Last week I read that some injured soldiers were tackling the Overland Track in Tasmania as part of their recovery strategy and this got me thinking about the mental as well as physical benefits of hiking.
Last year I had the opportunity to tackle the Great Ocean Walk at a somewhat stressful time in my life. My job was up in the air as I was waiting for my contract to be extended, I’d gone through a looong period of failing to fall pregnant and I felt like I needed some time out. Five days of fresh air, beautiful views, very few encounters with other people on the track and a moderate amount of physical exertion was good for the body, mind and soul. I ditched my earphones. No music, just the sound of nature. One foot in front of the other, alone with my thoughts was like undertaking hours and hours of meditation. It was exactly what I needed at that time.
These soldiers hiking the Overland Track had various injuries in the line of duty and had served in Afghanistan, such as Private Craig Armstrong who injured his knee during a field exercise. He was chasing his dream to join the SAS. The walk for him was much more than about testing his knee for six days over the 65km course, it was about helping him deal with the psychological after-effect of his injury. This I can understand. His dream was ripped from him. Where do you go from there? On a big long hike, apparently!
The Army has a Soldier Recovery Centre, which organised the Overland Track hike, and if the hike is deemed a success, it could become a regular activity during the rehabilitation of injured soldiers in the future. Two of the twelve soldiers having to be airlifted out with minor injuries. It must be incredibly disappointing for those soldiers to not be able to complete the course. I wonder if that will have a detrimental on their overall recovery and will prevent the activity from being deemed a success?
Here are links to the news stories on the ABC news website:
- Injured soldiers walk towards recovery on the Overland Track
- Chopper rescues soldiers injured on Tasmanian bushwalk
- Soldiers complete their walk to recovery
Last modified: November 26, 2016