The beauty of hiking – Le Guilfordien
With COVID restrictions easing and spring fast approaching, students are looking for a safe way to spend time outdoors with friends. A Cleveland Clinic article mentioned that hiking in a less traveled area is a COVID-friendly way to get fresh air.
When walking up a trail with a friend or pet, you may hear the rustle of leaves and small branches from people ahead of you. As you continue walking, you approach a mini waterfall, where families walk through the waterfall to feel nature’s cold water on their overheated skin. When you reach the top of the mountain, you can feel a relaxed feeling from the gentle breeze.
According to the National Park Service, “hiking is proven to have many health benefits, from the physical exercise you get while on the trail, to the emotional or mental relief that comes from being in nature. “.
Findings from a 2018 Stanford University study show that being outside in nature can help you feel better and improve your mental health. Spending meaningful time in nature relieves stress, reduces anxiety, and can minimize the risk of depression.
“The first time I went for a casual hike was in the state park in the town I grew up in and we used to go there all the time,” said environmental studies professor Tony VanWinkle. and sustainability in Guilford, remembering his first casual hike at the state park in the town he grew up in. “We used to go there all the time,” said VanWinkle, who has spent most of his life in Tennessee.
“Another place in my home area called the Big South Fork is a national river and recreation area just because I was interested in exploring it and they had more trail systems for hikes from long distance,” he said.
“I really enjoy hiking because I feel energized and I think it’s very calming yet equally challenging,” said freshman Olivia Herron. “I often hike with my mom and hiking with someone is always my favorite part because it keeps me engaged and it’s nice to share the hiking experience with another person,”
Elder Luis Lopez shared how he was introduced to hiking.
“When I moved here, my family and I were thinking about what we should do over the weekend and my uncle had mentioned hiking,” Lopez said. “He has lived here longer and since my family and I have never hiked, we decided to give it a shot.”
VanWinkle said the hike had a positive effect on his mental and physical health.
“Physically getting out and moving is better than not…unless there’s absolutely a reason I have to be inside, I’d rather be outside,” VanWinkle said. “For my mental health, being outside and enjoying the sun is essential. I wouldn’t survive without it.
Like many others, Guilford students and faculty associate hiking with fond memories.
“Hiking has been an important part of my life…. (I would) go with my kids when they were younger,” VanWinkle said. “When they were young, taking them on hikes was great; we’ve done that a lot.
“It was great to be in contact with my children in this way. It was nice to be able to share that love of both the hike itself and the love of nature in general.”
“The best memory I can think of would be when my mom, godmother and I hiked in Utah and went to about three different national parks in one week,” Herron said. “It was particularly memorable because I took a photo of my mother standing in front of the Great Salt Lake, and it was oddly inspiring.”
“My fondest memory was the first time I hiked, at Hanging Rock State Park,” Lopez said. “That same day, my cousins and I tried to compete to see who would get to the top without stopping, which led to me tripping over a rock. After the hike, we noticed some picnic tables. had a grill and decided to cook dinner here. My family enjoyed the day and that’s why I’m going to… (hike) today.