About Darren Edwards

Why I started hiking – My Story

Where do I start? The reason I started hiking was to improve my mental health. Life had become too much, too hectic and hiking helped me to find myself again.

My name is Darren Edwards and I have been running my own design agency, by myself, since 1993. I had built a solid business with a good mix of regular clients and had plenty of work to keep me occupied for more hours each day than I had hoped for. So much so that I often had to compromise my family time in order to keep ahead of the work load. Over time, I started to become resentful of my work but had to keep soldiering on as I needed the work to fund a few investment properties we had purchased along the way. I had created a giant wheel and I was the little mouse keeping it going and could not get off. I guess a lot of people feel this way in life, that we live to work.

black dog of depression
The dreaded black dog of depression

One day my world came crashing down. I was beside myself with grief and felt overwhelmed by everything in my life. I could not understand what was happening to me as my life had been so great. I had fallen into a deep depression. A depression so deep, that I felt nothing but despair. I just didn’t know any other way out and was in so much pain. I know people who have lived with depression, but until you have experienced the black dog for yourself you will never know or truly understand the absolute darkness that surrounds you or sickening pain that enters your heart.

On reflection, I think it was the feeling of being trapped by what I had created that made me feel depressed about my life, although I did not realise at the time. I just thought that everything around me was falling apart and I started to think that I would never get out of the hole I was in.

At the time I lived on the edge of a state park in Melbourne’s west so one day I dragged myself out of bed and went for a walk by myself in the bush. I returned quite a few hours later feeling more alive and refreshed than I have ever felt. So the next day I did it again, then again, and again.

hiking solo
Me exploring alone. Little River Gorge, Victoria

For the following two years I hiked by myself every weekend (sometimes both Sat and Sun). Sometimes I stood on the edge of a cliff, contemplating the reasons for life, sometimes I stayed away from the cliffs, not knowing what I would do. Despite having these thoughts I kept hiking as it gave me purpose, it seemed to give my life meaning and ultimately it allowed me to somehow clear my mind of all the negative thoughts that were continually racing through it. I felt like I could relax, that no-one was watching me, judging me, questioning my decisions or expecting something of me. I was at peace in the bush and above all, I felt really insignificant and connected to something greater than myself. That may seem like an odd feeling to rejoice in for someone with depression but when I was at my worst I felt like the world was revolving around me and the feeling that I was but a mere spec on this earth made me stop and realise that there is more to life than just me and what I was going through. It made me stop to consider my family, my friends, my two lovely boys.

hiking with my sons
Me and my amazing sons. Jatbula Trail, NT

Hiking saved my life

I know that hiking saved my life and brought me closer to my family, so I do it as often as I can. I do still prefer to hike alone but being the organiser of Australia’s largest hiking groups and developing the Trail Hiking Australia site means I still need to hike with other people. It is a lot more noise and doesn’t offer me the same level of relaxation but I understand that I need to be social so push myself to do it.

As this was all such a personal journey for me I started to think that maybe hiking could help other people who are suffering as I was. Not knowing how to help, I did what I do best (as I am a web developer) and built this website. Initially the site was filled with only the hikes I had done and within two years had over 150 trails throughout Victoria. I felt like I was limiting the site based on geography so started a three year project to get the site to where it is now with over 3,200 trails throughout Australia. I don’t know if what I have built has helped others but I like to think that it has.

Part of me has always wanted to share my journey in the hope it would encourage other people to silence their mind and heal their heart through hiking but I was not sure if my story was too personal to put out there for the public to scutinise. But I guess I feel ready now to share how much hiking has changed my life, in the hope that it will change at least one other persons.

frenchmans cap in a whiteout
Me at the summit of Frenchmans Cap, Tasmania

It is for this reason that I am passionate about our wilderness and are passionate about this site. I started hiking to escape from the real world and my own head for a while to reconnect with nature, switch off from the hustle and bustle of life and disconnect from technology.

I hope my journey can help you.

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Darren Edwards | [email protected]

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16 thoughts on “About Darren Edwards”

  1. thank you for creating this forum and also sharing your story. hiking is my way of remembering who i am and continuing to build the person i want to be without all the noise of life as a distraction and detraction.

  2. Hi Darren,
    Loved your story, I can certainly relate. Sometimes some of us build up a “trap” without realising. Hiking is like a breath of fresh air, or as I like to say chicken soup for the soul.
    Is there somehow I can make contact with you direct?

  3. Hi Darren, we have just found your website and love it. Hiking the Victorian alps and your website makes it a lot easier. Great info on it. Thanks for sharing your story. Well done for encouraging people to connect with nature. We wish you all the best

  4. Hi Darren, we have just found your website and love it. Hiking the Victorian alps and your website makes it a lot easier. Great info on it. Thanks for your story. Well done for encouraging people to connect with nature.

  5. Thanks for the site Darren. Likewise one foot in front of the other has been a solid foundation for wellness in my life. I came across your hike planning Wilson Prom walk over Easter. I am working on a slightly different trail walking site. Would love to connect.

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