I hiked 12km today on Hunt Lake in the Whiteshell area of Manitoba with a group of 6 people, including myself. The terrain is quite rugged with jagged rock and 100 foot drops high above West Hawk Lake.
While returning from our half hour lunch break after hiking 6km, I began to experience anxiety. While I put my pack on to hike back with the group, I realized that I had not written in my journal and I began to feel sad. I decided internally that I was going to take my time, stop for more breathtaking views, take pictures and maybe make a video about my new hiking shoes.
Instead, I pushed on to keep up with the group as my mind drifted back to the cold water at the lake that I had my feet in while eating my lunch. I yearned to return for a little longer. I passed people sitting on rocks overlooking the lake. I wanted to sit with them.
I had two anxiety attacks on the return hike. My mind didn’t want to walk. I wanted to journal, close my eyes, and meditate. I wanted to sit under a tree in silence with the cool air of the lake on my skin.
During my second anxiety attack, I ripped off my pack and threw it down in an effort to breathe. I couldn’t get air into my lungs. I forgot how to breathe. My face was soaking wet from tears. I kept trying to remind myself that I hike for my mental health, that I am here because I chose not to drink alcohol anymore, and I am conquering mental illness one trail at a time. I wanted the hike to be done. I didn’t like what was becoming of my serene, soulful experience.
It dawned on me in that moment that I am better suited as a solo hiker. My pace, my mindfulness, and my reflection in silence. Or I will hike with someone who knows up front that some of my time will be spent sitting on a rock with my nose in a book.
I sent the group ahead and my best friend stayed back with me and we hiked at my pace. I stopped a lot more often to take in the views that I felt I missed on the way in. The hike became what I needed my hike to be.
Hike my own hike. I live my life by a compass, not a clock. I’m looking forward to venturing to Hunt Lake again and laying on a giant rock while the sun beats down on me and maybe turning 6 hours into 9.
I made a video when I returned to the trail head to go along with this post.