Do You Hike to Heal?

Dec 6, 2021 | 0 comments

Girl Campers are known for going places and doing things. Hiking is sometimes included in our achievements.

Yesterday I had an incredible conversation with a friend I thought had been on vacation. In fact, she was in the hospital and nearly died. She experienced intense abdominal pain for a month and they scanned for gal stones. Nothing showed. And then she had to call for the ambulance because the pain was overwhelming. Turns out, the gal stones weren’t visible because they had moved to the kidney channel and her kidneys were shutting down. She had two surgeries. The day before I talked with her, she had gone for a hike/run in the park and the experience assured her she was going to be okay.

We talked about the moment when you know you might die, but then you think: no. Not like this. That would be ridiculous. For me it was being trapped under a truck on Christmas Eve. It was eight degrees and the truck “park” function didn’t hold because of the cold and that truck ran over me twice before stopping against the snow berm with the driver’s side tire on top of my leg between the knee and ankle. A young PG&E worker found me and drove the truck over my ankle to release me. Walking and then hiking again was an amazing victory for me because two weeks later the same thing happened to a neighbor and both his legs were broken and he was in a rehab facility for six months. The kicker: we were both run over by our own vehicles. It turns out, this happens on a fairly regular basis when the temperature drops below 10 degrees.

By some miracle, my legs didn’t break. Within two weeks I could walk without hiking poles. Then I could dance again. Then I could hike again. I was okay. When the doctor looked at my x-rays he exclaimed my bones are like “boy bones”, surprisingly thick “for a woman your age”. Hilarious. I’ll take the comment with gratitude.

Which Trails are Close To You?

Here, on the West Coast, our trail of fame is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I think it’s interesting to note that no single female is recorded to have hiked this trail until 1976. Two women hiked the trail solo that year, one hiking from Canada to Mexico, and the other hiking from Mexico to Canada.

I am fortunate to live within a few miles of one section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hiking to Humboldt Summit, in this section of the trail was a momentous day for me in my recovery from a horrible automobile accident. I was a passenger in the car and it took years for me to hike again because I was left with a brain injury and a hip injury, both of which will be with me for the rest of my life. I had slowly been building up my strength and experimenting with different shoes and hiking poles, and one weekend I knew the time had come: I asked a friend to go up to the PCT intersection with me and hike to the summit, a three and a half mile round trip hike, and one that involves elevation and rocky terrain. For me, it was a major personal victory. I was back!

From Humboldt Summit on the PCT you can see for miles in several directions.

There are typically sections of these trails you can explore for day hikes. I enjoy going up to the PCT to consider all the people who have walked the trail, and give sandwiches to through hikers (people hiking from Mexico to Canada or vice versa). I like hearing their stories and learning how they come by their trail names. One day I was on an off-road ride with my friends, and two through hikers asked me for a ride to the highway because they had run out of water and they were short on food supplies. Can you guess which one had the trail name of, “Cave Man?”.

After eating some of our fried chicken and drinking a beer, Cave Man dozed until I left them at the drop-off point.

How Does Hiking Inspire You?

I recently recalled another time hiking was a significant milestone in my life. Two weeks after getting a divorce, I saw a flyer at the post office about a group of women meeting the next weekend to hike Broke Off Mountain in Lassen National Park. The elevation was beyond my capability and I knew it – but I decided to go anyway. I don’t enjoy physical challenges with people I don’t know. And yet, I was driven to go.

Brokeoff Mountain Elevation 9,500 Feet – Lassen National Park: Trail Head Starts at 6,500 Feet.

It was an amazing day; at the top, with the path narrow and steep drop offs on either side, I had to get on my hands and knees in front of people I didn’t know because of vertigo. But I made it to the top and I loved the feeling of achievement. All the women were terrifically supportive!

A victorious moment with Kerry, one of the women who helped me to the top.
It was good to share this moment on top of Brokeoff Mountain!

Enough About Me

Have you heard of Heather Anderson who achieved the triple crown of hiking in our country? She faced incredible life change, including leaving her husband, and set out to hike her way to her future. She has several books out about her incredible achievements:


Take a lesson from Cheryl Strayed in, “Wild” and don’t go out unprepared!

If you would like to learn more about America’s great hiking trails, here’s a book for you:

America’s Great Hiking Trails:

You’re never too old! Take time to read another Chapter Guide article here and be inspired by this amazing Great-Grandmother who hiked the Appalachian trail more than once!

Now Let’s Hear From YOU!

Please share your hiking victories in the comments. I know your story will inspire other Girl Campers!

Article written by: Catherine Goggia, Northern California Chapter Guide

To see the complete list of my articles, click here:

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