Finding Paths to Happiness

How do people who battle anxiety and/or depression find peace and happiness?

I have found answers to this question through reading the wisdom of some brilliant writers whose works I have featured here. (Click on “more books” in the menu to see them.)

But I have found some of my life’s most enjoyable times on the long-distant trails in Europe. My story about my first such journey became an adventure memoir, Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

I am finding this happiness again in England on the South West Coast Path. Sue and I are about a third of the way through our 260-mile trek from Minehead to Land’s End. Here are a few scenes from England.

The Salt Path: A Book Comes to Life in England

The path plunges and rises with the valleys, over and over.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then walking the South West Coast Path is indescribable.

I am reading Raynor Winn’s best-selling book, The Salt Path, while walking in her footsteps on England’s South West Coast Path.

Except I am hardly following her lead.

Winn walked after she and her husband Moth lost their home in a business deal gone sour. Plus, he had just gotten news that he was dying from a neurological disease. They camped, mostly, and she wrote that they lived off 48 pounds a week. In two segments, they trekked almost all of the 630 miles.

Sue and I are fortunate that we are healthy and will return to our Oregon home. We have a shower, warm bed, and pub meals at the end of each day. We are carrying everything we need on our backs, sans the tent, sleeping bags and stove. Finally, should our script play out, we will hike “just” 260 miles from Minehead to Land’s End.

But, like Raynor and her husband and all who venture here, we are astounded by the glory of England’s southwest coast. The steep path challenges, but our senses bask in this experience.

Mont Blanc: A Climb That Took Everything We Had

We knew the third day of our 110-mile trek around Mont Blanc would be our most challenging backpacking test ever. But were we ready? Our first long-distance trek, Spain’s Camino de Santiago, had taught us to be prepared for surprises at every corner and over every hill.

We climbed all morning, 4,317 feet, to an altitude above 8,000 feet. When Sue reached the snowy mountain pass, or col, she was greeted by cloud cover, which closed in quickly, along with a chill. And then came a realization that reminded us of our climb to O’Cebreiro in Spain. But the bad news in France’s Alps was worse than what we faced on the Camino.

We were one col short. Another climb, on slopes steeper than they look in the photos, loomed. Reg was anything but a happy hiker when he turned sideways in the bottom photo to look back at Sue. The path led up, into dripping clouds, around and over rock and ice. Our rubbery legs and aching knees then faced more than 3,000 feet of descent to our hostel in Les Chapieux.

So how have we learned to endure such difficult times? Our lessons began in Pamplona, Spain, as we took the first steps of our monthlong pilgrimage. We tell and illustrate our story in our book, Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows. Click on “trekking slide shows” in the menu to view Sue’s short slide shows from each of our treks.

I would love to hear from you.