By Vee Floros, CMHC Intern

 A study on exercise and self-esteem by Sonstroem and Morgan (1989) found that “The idea of personal competence, or feelings of capability to master and control oneself and aspects of the environment, is concluded to be an essential dimension of self-esteem” (p. 330). For me, an activity that instills competence as well as a feeling of peace with my environment is hiking.

Trail magic transformed my understanding of my own competence, mental and physical strength, and resiliency

I discovered the empowerment of hiking the summer between my junior and senior year of high school when, with no previous experience I signed up for a summer camp program to hike the 100-Mile-Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail from Monson, ME to the trail’s terminus at Mount Katahdin.

Those two weeks full of sweat, tears, and trail magic transformed my understanding of my own competence, mental and physical strength, and resiliency. This pivotal experience has shaped many of my decisions, including opting to spend the summer before college on a 28-day wilderness expedition with the Appalachian Mountain Club, majoring in Adventure Education in college, completing 3 internships with the Student Conservation Association, and becoming a Ranger for the National Park Service.

Dreaming of the Trail

The demands of graduate school over the past 3 years has meant that I spend a lot more time indoors, and travel less. I have still gotten out hiking but feel that sometimes I forget how powerful of a reset and boost it can be for me. It is back on my radar now, as I have a new hiking buddy with 4 long legs and a lot of energy to burn. 

As the weather gets warmer and graduation approaches, I find myself daydreaming of spending weekends hiking in the Uinta’s unplugged from technology, wading in alpine lakes, eating snacks from Trader Joes, and reconnecting with what makes me feel strong, alive, and grateful.

Some Places to Consider

Are you interested in hiking? Here are some of my go to (dog friendly) hikes all within a short drive from Red Willow:

Avenues Twin Peaks
Emigration Canyon Miners Trail
Millcreek Canyon (multiple trails within the canyon)
Wild Rose Trail
Bonneville Shoreline Trail (multiple trailheads)
The Living Room Trail
Neffs Canyon Trail

*Make sure to research before you go to find a hike that fits your needs including accessibility, difficulty, parking, and fees. If you are new to hiking also make sure to research tips on how to prepare including proper footwear, layering, maps, gear, first aid, food, and water.

Sonstroem, R. J., & Morgan, W. P. (1989). Exercise and self-esteem: Rationale and model. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 21(3), 329–337.