Alta’s Own “Hopeful Wanderer” Finds Solitude in the Mountains
With the rising awareness of mental health in today's world, many are looking for ways to improve their own mental health, and Alta's "Hopeful Wanderer," Peggy De Veny provides herself with her best way to fix her mental health; hiking in the great outdoors.
As proven by this past year’s quarantine mental health is a growing concern for many people. It is becoming more discussed and it is gaining insights and perspectives on how to improve one’s mental health. English teacher and Hope Squad adviser Peggy De Veny has her own method of improving her mental health; hiking.
“I go on hikes for a lot of reasons, one of them being for my mental health,” De Veny said. “It has helped with my anxiety along with other things. It’s also an amazing exercise, it is a total body exercise, strengthening your cardio. And I have been able to see some truly amazing things.”
De Veny, who uses the Insta Moniker ‘The Hopeful Wanderer,’ tends to hike alone because it provides little solitude and quiet. “I have noticed a great change in my own mental health after my hikes and I 100% recommend them for anyone struggling with their own mental health,” she said.
Recently, there has been an exploration for alternatives to therapy and medications to better one’s mental health. One of these ways to go about this is self-care.
De Veny said that anxiety and depression are something that she has dealt with since high school, both with therapy and medications.
“Since moving to Utah, I have been able to reduce my anxiety and depression,” De Veny said. “I have been able to reduce them, not eliminate though because they don’t simply just go away since there is still a need for them. But activities such as hiking explore the alternatives for mental health, such as self-care ideas.”
De Veny said that her peace and increase of her mental health originate from the beauty of nature. “It’s the cycle of nature that provides me hope. How things grow, how they die, how they provide life for other things when they die, and the constant sense of renewal.
“But then there’s also this stability between nature when you look at things like mountains that have been there for millennia or, this past summer, I went to Great Basin National Park where Bristlecone Pine trees grow and they’re some of the longest living organisms in the world.”
She uses this tree as a symbol of hope, saying that it has seen so much and persevered through so much that if it can make it through the hardships of life, so could she.
When it comes to hiking, De Veny knows what she’s doing. She hikes 3-4 times a month during the school year and hikes 6 days a week 5 miles a day over the summer. She is a hiking expert, especially when it comes to hiking in Utah.
“I would recommend a hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon called Willow Lake which leads you up to this pretty little lake surrounded by Aspen trees, it’s gorgeous in the fall and altogether an easy hike.”
There’s a hike up in Suncrest called the Lupine Trail. It’s new and it’s nice for beginner hikes. And Catherine Pass up at Alta is beautiful because it crosses over into Brighton Lake. “But my absolute favorite hike that is local is Red Pine Lake, which is up Little Cottonwood Canyon, and that one is about 8 1/2 miles round trip and it has about two thousand feet of elevation gain and about a thousand of that is in the last 3/4 of a mile so that one is a butt-kicker,” she said.
For more hiking trails De Veny recommends the AllTrails app which gives great hiking trail locations.
“There is no ‘hiker type’,” says De Veny. “Most people look at me and think that I’m not the ‘hiker type’ but really there is no type.”
De Veny reminds people that you don’t have to fit some physical stereotype to be a hiker or to enjoy the outdoors. “If you like to be outdoors then you should go out and immerse yourself in it. There is no ideal hiker look, anyone can be involved in nature. Just make sure that you do some research and stay safe. Even for experienced hikers accidents can happen.”
With the rising awareness of mental health in today’s world, many are looking for ways to improve their own mental health, and Alta’s “Hopeful Wanderer,” provides herself with her best way to fix her mental health; hiking in the great outdoors.