Blissful Hiker on day 100 of the Te Araroa, Mount Cook shyly peaking out behind the clouds.
hike blog

how do you nourish your body and soul?

Walking is how the body measures itself against the earth.

Rebecca Solnit
Blissful Hiker on day 100 of the Te Araroa, Mount Cook shyly peaking out behind the clouds.
Blissful Hiker on day 100 of the Te Araroa, Mount Cook shyly peaking out behind the clouds.

I was asked earlier this week to participate in the Minnesota Women’s Press August “Body” issue by answering this question in 500 words or less, “How do you nourishes your body and soul?” Here’s a preview of my answer and I look forward to those of my fellow Minnesotan sisters!


There’s really no trail from Royal Hut to Stag Saddle. Instead, in typical Kiwi fashion, it’s a pick-your-way between orange markers on soggy, tussocky humps of grass, back and forth across a boulder-strewn stream, and straight up from one false summit to the next. The sun is hot in a bluebird sky and the route is steep. I’m glad I have hiking poles.

Yesterday, the trail got the best of me. I sat down to rest and immediately started crying, ready to quit and go home. Today is day 100 of a thru-hike of New Zealand. I put life on pause to walk this, a risk I was willing to take before my arthritic feet impeded my “full time pedestrian” status.

I’m known as the Blissful Hiker and one would assume it’s walking that nourishes my body and soul. That’s true, of course, but it’s only part of the story.

My earliest memory is of looking down at my feet in wonder as they moved me up to the back door of our church where my father was the minister. Up there, was nursery school! I can still see the dappled light on the sidewalk, roly-poly caterpillars in brown and black, my arms swinging, propelling me along. The moment is indelible because it was the first time I felt in charge of my being, drunk on the power of the simple act of moving myself forward with my legs.

guest post

GUEST POST: The Healing Power of Hiking by Kieran James Cunningham

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

Rachel Carson
I made a promise to myself: to give life one year to prove it could be something other than the s**tshow that had led me to my current whereabouts.
“I made a promise to myself: to give life one year to prove it could be something other than the s**tshow that had led me to my current whereabouts.”

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer and writer for My Open Country based in the Italian Alps. He’s climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always. As someone living with bipolar disorder, he is passionate about the mental health benefits of time spent in nature.


September 2006

I was home visiting my parents in Scotland and due to return to work the next day after a month of sick leave.

I’d gotten out of my second self-induced coma in as many years a few days previously. All signs seemed to point towards the fact that my suitability for existence on this earth had run its course.

That night I made my way to the shed at the bottom of my parents’ garden, my grandfather’s Smith and Wesson revolver in hand, resolved to finish off the job I hadn’t quite been able to accomplish with a cocktail of pharmaceuticals.  

The world, however, looks a whole lot different with a gun in your mouth.