It's Time to Get Out and Enjoy Hiking Around Walla Walla

It is that time of year again –the time where I am checking my weather app constantly to see if there is sun in the forecast. In my childhood (and admittedly, even up into my early adulthood) I was under the false impression that winter was December. And I loved December (for all the holiday festivity.) But as it turns out, I have come to realize that December is just the beginning of winter… and after the fun and festivity… there are TWO MORE MONTHS of these dreary, cold, dark, days… with no festivities to break them up. (Side note: Why don’t we put the holidays in February, as a celebration of winter survival? That would make so much more sense.)

I decided this year that I would do a 52 Hike Challenge – which basically means I’ve committed to hiking 52 hikes in 52 weeks. On the most basic level, the 52 Hike Challenge is about taking advantage of where I live and seeing all the beauty I dreamed about seeing. One of the nice things about this project is that it’s not really a marathon kind of thing– it really is about just getting out in nature, and moving. The only requirement is that you do something longer than a mile. And yes, you’re allowed to repeat hikes if you want. This is all good news, as Bennington Lake is a familiar hike, close to home. While I have been using the project as motivation to encourage me to find new trails, I’m still happy to go back and visit the basics. Sometimes we push ourselves, sometimes we keep it simple. And that’s ok, too.

I’ve always enjoyed having a project, and in many ways committing to doing this was about just that — having a project. But I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that so many people have sought out natural settings when they’re drifting through a season of transition.

I think using movement as a form of therapy is a more instinctive practice for some people – but it was not for me. Using music to process emotions was about as physical as I usually got. Although, I have always enjoyed taking a walk. And it shouldn’t be surprising that this is a great way to help with emotions –we all know that movement can have really positive therapeutic effects on our body (due to endorphins and whatnot.) Furthermore, in recent years there is even legit research being done into something called Shinrin-Yoku – or in English, forest bathing. The kinda basic concept here is that you use immersion into nature as a means of providing stress-reduction. And it is showing positive results. That’s just one more reason to hit the trails.

I would also add, that I am intentional about what I’m doing. I’m not sure if it would have the same benefit if I wasn’t making a point of using it the way I am. In order to accomplish this, I have set an intention in hiking, to process things that are on my heart. I hit the trail with intention, and I think in doing so, it has become a really powerful (and affordable) therapeutic support. When you can’t talk your way out, maybe you can hike your way through.

Elle Berry is a Walla Walla nutritionist, storyteller, and businesswoman who believes passionately in the power of real food to nourish and better lives. You can learn more about her by following her on Instagram at @a_wellness_story and visiting her website, A Wellness Story.