Several years ago, I read the book The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence William. This book has inspired me to spend time outside nearly every day and it has helped me to push myself to get into better shape. Yes, I have had that lifelong battle with my weight and I need to get outside and move as often as I can.
And the book has also inspired me to find unique outdoor experiences, like the Volksmarch to the top of the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, a non-competitive, but pretty challenging 10K. And I met up with some friends to walk up the rough path with steep inclines and at an altitude that I just was not used to as I live in a state with its highest point at 812 feet. By the 2nd checkpoint, each of my friends had given up. When you look at the walk from about halfway, I understand, but I was not giving up and realized I could not do this alone and needed help from others on the trail.
I was able to get motivation from all of the walkers around me: four sisters from Oklahoma (one sister was 85 years old), a family from Colorado, a local Girl Scout Troop, two elderly Korean War Veterans from New Mexico, teens from the Rosebud Reservation, and some folks from the Pacific Northwest. They kept me company, encouraged me as I struggled at times, and pushed me when I did need to rest along the last part of the walk. If you ever do a Volksmarch, you will find people of all different ages and abilities and when I could not rely on my friends, all of these strangers lifted me up that mountain. Here are the pictures from the top where the face of Crazy Horse is 9 stories high and then at the finish line after my walk down. I carried a prayer to say at the top from one of my friends who works to bring the problem of missing indigenous women into public knowledge and for their safe return.
I may have completed one of the toughest Volksmarches in the country, but what I learned along the this trail was the goodness of people who offered support when I really needed it. I will keep finding these Volksmarches as I try to get my nature fix.
“One of the underappreciated benefits of venturing into remote landscapes is that we are often thrown into connecting with each other.”
For more information about the American Volkssport Association, which is a non-competitive walking organization that sponsors events all over the country, you can find it here: American Volkssport Association.