It’s now approaching one full year since the emergence of Covid-19 entered the U.S., and the media relentlessly painted a dark picture of the end of the world right before our very eyes. Was that fear message rightfully so? That’s not for me to determine. Each of us is entitled to our own opinion. For me, I personally learned something new during this time. I became more aware of how I received, interpreted, and processed the media’s information. I took the time to research information from all points of view and then use my own rational thinking and common sense to find a well-thought-out conclusion. What I tried not to do was to let emotions, or ego, get in the way. One piece of wisdom that many of us seemed to have forgotten.
As we approach one year since mandatory lockdowns, shutdowns, masks, social distancing, obsessive hand washings, and such, we find that the world is still spinning, but at what cost to overall humanity? I’ve said it before, that your own perception creates your reality. And it may not be mine, as everyone has different circumstances. However, one thing is for certain, the lock down had negative effects on our mental health across all walks of life. Mental health has no boundaries, no rules, no limitations, it affects the young, the old and is not selective to gender, race, religion, or color. It’s one of the things that the media still fails to address in their reporting on the effects of “Lock Down”. In my opinion, in the midst of painting the dark picture of COVID-19, the media fell short on creating an outcry for those who suffer or fell victim to the increases in domestic abuse, divorces, suicides, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and so forth.
In March of 2020, I did what I was asked to do, and I put my dream on hold to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail(AT). I still question myself today if that was the right choice? At that time maybe it was, refer back to my blog post “To Flip or Flop”. Based at that time and the lack of real information, I felt obligated to do my part and “Stay Home, Stay Safe”, until the unknowns of Covid-19 started to sort themselves out from fear, fiction, fact, and common sense. However, in June of 2020, my mental health was once again getting tested. I had to go, I had to get on the trail, even knowing that the experience of the trail would be different and that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) advised against it. So, on August 16th, I got on the trail, I had to for my own sanity, even without knowing what challenges laid ahead of me.
Hiking the AT will wreck your life…SAY WHAT? Just kidding! Once you’ve hiked on the AT for an extended period of time it has the power to change your life forever. I’m so glad that I went, even though I didn’t complete a personal goal and Flip the section from Harpers Ferry to Springer. However, I made 161 miles of the most amazing memories, and I got to meet some of the most amazing people while on the trail, and in the sleepy trail towns along the way. The ATC had it all wrong, these small towns thoroughly still welcomed the hikers with open arms and they were all well equipped to handle the sanitary practices, social distancing, etc. And there was also plenty of toilet paper along the way. I felt safe and so did they!
I’m so blessed that I got to fully experience life, the freedom, and the simplicity of living with everything I need right in my backpack. I’m so glad that I went, because my mental health was nurtured and uplifted by the kindness and humanity of people. The memories of this adventure will stay with me for a lifetime, but the calling to return is strong. Backpacking the AT has become a gateway to my soul for healing, growing, living, and expanding my Universe as I continue on the path to finding my “Purpose”. So, in a nutshell, what’s next? I must return to start a section hike in early May and to seek 100+ miles from Springer Mountain, GA to Franklin, TN. I’ve updated my “Trail Journals Page” with more details about this section hike, and once I’m on trail, will record the daily accounts as connectivity permits.
As for mental health, my campaign to collect $2,193 dollars (2020 AT mileage) on HIKE for Mental Health has reached $1,083. I don’t plan to stop fundraising for such a worthy cause until I’ve reached my goal. You can find a link to my personal page on my home page or click here for my personal “HIKE for Mental Health” link. Just don’t dream about the life you want, make it happen because you, and only you, are in control of your destiny and you deserve the life that you dream of. However, sometimes you may need a little help along the way. No shame, no judgment, and there are many amazing organizations that are out there and willing to support you to Be_again!
HIKE for Mental Health is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded on the vision of a world in which everyone, including those who suffer mental illness, can find the simple joy of living. Our mission is to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted by mental illness, eliminate the associated stigma, and foster responsible use of wilderness trails. As an all-volunteer organization, we distribute 100% of contributions raised by our hikes.