Hiking For Mental Clarity

By Lisa Mae
When it comes to mental clarity, there are few better activities than hiking. Here’s how hiking has helped me become more centered.

When I made the decision to move west I knew one thing: that I needed a mix of urban and nature.

Living in Chicago in my early twenties made me appreciate all of the conveniences of living in a metropolis: the food, nightlife, public transit, people, the opportunities! But my nature-loving soul was missing something. I needed to be able to get away every once awhile, to get a little lost in the wild.

Growing up, I went on a bunch of camping trips with my dad. A truck driver, he saw more of America than most. Whenever he could, he’d load our dog and me into our van and we’d live out of a tent until he had to get back to work. We’d hike for miles, make meals at camp, sleep, and do it all again the next day.

When I visited Denver in 2013, I knew right away this was the city for me. The city views with the mountain backdrop still takes my breath away. I could live in Colorado all of my life and never see it all, and I absolutely love that.

Colorado was always “too crowded” for my dad, so I had never hiked the Rockies until I lived there. He preferred the more remote mountains in the Pacific Northwest — where he is now retired.

Hiking the tallest mountains in our country is a completely different task, though, when compared to family camping trips.

Everything is harder at altitude, and the mountains can be brutal and unforgiving. But, if you respect their power and plan accordingly they can also reward you with unbelievable beauty.

The silence of the woods and the awesome power of nature is my happy place.

Sometimes my hikes are fairly easy; sometimes they test my mental and physical strength to the limit. I always learn something when I go out for a hike, and I am always grateful. Even on the hikes when things go “bad” I leave a better version of myself.

I am currently working towards hiking my first 14er — summiting some of Colorado’s highest peaks. To complete these hikes requires training, conditioning, planning, and incredible determination. You don’t want to get caught in a storm at 14,000 feet, or realize you didn’t pack enough water.

When looking for mental clarity, there are few things better than hiking. It's become my ritual that restores my sense of well-being. And you don’t have to be in the mountains like me. Even when in Chicago, I found great hikes just outside of the city. So, if you find yourself needing a little peace of mind, or are just itching to leave technology behind for a while, take a walk. It’s great for nature, and even better for your sanity.

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