It was 2007 when a friend invited Ingunn and her husband on a backpacking trip to Shi Shi Beach in Washington state’s Olympic National Park. They accepted the offer despite that the trip was “way out of my comfort zone,” she recalls.
Stepping out into the wild
“I was fighting to get out of a major depressive episode, and I made a promise to myself to start actively participating in life instead of just sitting at home on the couch.”
After a long drive, a confusing pile of permits and a muddy hike, they reached the coast and Ingunn was awestruck by its beauty.
“Never mind that it was raining and my cotton clothes stayed drenched all weekend,” she reminisces. “Nothing could wipe the grin off my face.” Now she hikes, snowshoes and backpacks at every opportunity.
Finding confidence and purpose
“I was not in a good place back then, but my discovery of hiking gave me goals to reach and a sense of purpose,” Ingunn says. “The biggest change I’ve seen in myself since I started hiking is that my confidence grows every day. Before that trip to Shi Shi, my self-esteem had hit rock bottom, but with every little challenge I conquer, I feel like a stronger person.”
“I call hiking my therapy — the endorphins, sunshine and beautiful views work together as an immediate mood-booster. Being out in the wilderness alone allows me to really clear my head and gather my thoughts. When I’m out there with others, it strengthens our bond and allows for honest communication. I guess that makes it excellent couple’s therapy, too,” she adds.
I call hiking my therapy — the endorphins, sunshine and beautiful views work together as an immediate mood-booster.
A love for the wild
A native of Norway, Ingunn found herself in Washington state because of a great career opportunity for her husband, but they have both fallen in love with the state and hope to never leave.
“The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is my favorite, along with Mount Rainier and the North Cascades,” she says. “I also try to get out in nature almost every day on our local trails in Redmond. I treasure the protected greenbelts we have in our urban areas. It’s such a great way to unwind and get away from everyday life for a bit.”
She adds, “The Pacific Northwest climate can get rather gloomy, but when the sun comes out, I remember why I love this place so much.”