As you all know, we love our Special Hikers here, and even still after doing so many of these in the time I have been a guide, I still love all the folks I meet.

imagine dealing with this:

Edie has a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos that makes her muscles, ligaments and tendons much more flexible than they should be, even having 4 foot and ankle surgeries in the last 5 years to provide stability so she can still walk. Due to this, she wears braces on her hands and feet to prevent or attempt to treat the continual tendonitis that she suffers from.

“The safest way for me to get around is with my wheelchair,” she explains, “I also have an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis in my hips and spine called ankylosing spondylitis, so the best thing for that condition is movement and stretching. My body constantly fights itself between these 2 conditions.” Edie also suffers from chronic migraines, dysautonomia, SVT and POTS which affects her heart rate and blood pressure and can get worse with exercise; not also to mention she has had her share of surgeries, including her most recent recovery from having her gallbladder removed.

what made her want to hike with us...

“I entered the contest because I saw your post on Facebook and thought it was amazing that you were wanting to help make getting out into the woods accessible for more groups of people. Prior to my injuries and disabilities, I used to love being in the woods and I've felt like I couldn't anymore. It's been almost a decade since my last hike. I had convinced myself it was no longer for me - that it was too dangerous or hard and I was excited at the thought that maybe there was a way to get back there.”

So, more than anything, our hike was an undertaking within itself by overcoming a lot of conflicting medical conditions as well as a healthy dose of negative self-talk. “The night before the hike, I almost talked myself out of going because I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it!” Edie shared; but it also served as a hearty reminder for myself that all hikes don’t necessarily need a destination.

We hiked, but we also took a few breaks to really soak in the trail, which was an incredible treat for the both of us We couldn’t have been blessed with better weather that day, so it became a treat to sit and watch the water rush while the sunlight filtered through the trees. Catawba Falls, although a highly populated trail now that the Forest Service has put so much work into making it truly accessible, offers a few nice spots of respite. Luckily as guides, we know the sweet snack spots!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...did it help?

Even as a hiker, I do love my moments of crushing miles in order to chew through some of the limiting thoughts in my head, but I think it can be even more difficult to just forgive yourself and allow yourself more time to be a part of nature. Forest bathing, a concept created by the Japanese (shinrin-yoku) offer this concept as nature as a healer by just allowing the body to be present in the forest, no mountains to climb and no trail to crush. Just the forgiveness of the silence of the woods, and really allowing all five senses to be enveloped by nature. As the average American spends 93% of their time indoors, just being in nature is sometimes all that is required to get back to ground zero. In Edie’s case, she found it to be incredibly helpful.

"Stopping along the way to rest, enjoy a snack and a chat together and simply listen to the water was one of my favorite things about the entire day. It was as if nothing else mattered except feeling the woods around me and hearing the sounds of the river. My brain constantly feels overloaded and in that moment I was able to simply enjoy the moment. I honestly don't remember the last time that has happened." Now that's what it's all about! 

  “I was able to do a lot more than I expected and was excited to          push past the mental limits that have been standing in my              way. It was amazingly helpful to have Sarah to encourage and        help me the entire way. We were just able to enjoy the woods          together. I'd never considered a guided hike before this, but            now I know it's something that exists for me as a way to learn        about new areas I can safely explore.”

   If looking to heal and get a better grip on your stress levels,             there is no better place to be than the woods….and hopefully           a guide who is determined to get you out there on your own            terms, at your own pace, and meets you where you are at.  

    If you feel like this may be a great fit for you, then don't                  hesitate to give us a call...we like hiking, in any weather, with          any condition, and know firsthand how incredibly valuable it          is. 

Edie and I at the bottom of Catawba Falls! Let's congrats Edie on a 3 mile round trip hike depsite the limitations she faces daily!