“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees,” this quote by Henry David Thoreau sums up the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Going for a hike is not only a fantastic way to connect with nature, it also helps us to unwind and recharge our batteries.
Whether you are hiking with a sighted partner, while using a cane, or with your guide dog the experience can help lift your mood and improve your overall well-being. Though you may enjoy the peace and solitude of hiking alone, others may enjoy the opportunity to bond with friends who share similar interests. Either way there are few things better in life than feeling the sun or wind on your face, smelling the fresh clean air, listening to birds, or hearing leaves under your feet or a stream in the distance.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to take on a complex mountain path; it is easier to start with a well-worn walking path and work your way up from there. And who knows, you might end up joining the ranks of Erik Weihenmayer and Trevor Thomas. Erik is the first blind person who has climbed the Seven Summits, the highest points on every continent, and yes, this includes the mighty Mt. Everest. Trevor is an accomplished hiker himself, who completed the Appalachian Trail and who has hiked the Colorado Trail. These two people are living proof that you can accomplish anything you set your mind on.
Before you rush out the door, keep in mind that safety should be your number 1 priority at all times. Therefore, it is a good idea when you are just getting started to go hiking with a sighted guide, while using the help of a white cane or a guide dog. You can also check for local groups to join. Before you hit the trails don’t forget to grab your sunglasses to protect your eyes on sunny and cloudy days.
Resources and experiences:
Outstanding Effort – by Emily Coleman
How I Enjoy Hiking With Vision Loss – by Ashley Nemeth
Touch the Top – Erik Weihenmayer website
Trevor Thomas Blind Hiker – Trevor Thomas website