The Ups and Downs of Mountaineering as Remedy

When Brandon Kuehn returned from fight responsibility in Iraq, one thing was incorrect. He’d been discharged after being wounded in battle and struggled to return to life as a civilian, dwelling along with his spouse and son in Washington. He’d seen horrible issues at battle, seen individuals die that he knew properly. Kuen was wracked with unsettling ideas: Why not me? Why had been others killed however I lived? The chaos and cruelty of all of it weighed closely on Kuehn.

Alcohol and drug abuse turned fixtures in Kuehn’s life. He spiraled right into a cycle of anguished nervousness and a deep melancholy. In 2014, he tried suicide and survived.

Brandon Kuehn, soothed by the wild. All pictures courtesy Spruce Tone Movies.

Whereas recovering, Kuehn got here to know that he was affected by PTSD. As he labored to place his life again collectively he started spending extra time exterior. Mountaineering, spending time in nature soothed his nervousness, calmed his nerves, brightened the perimeters of melancholy. Kuen turned so enamored with mountaineering, he determined, as many individuals do, to try a thru-hike of the PCT as a type of reset, a problem that might assist show to himself he might overcome something.

The beneath movie, Fixed Ideas, is a profile of Kuehn and a glance into his try on the PCT. It additionally exhibits that restoration isn’t so simple as simply going for a months-long hike. Kuehn, totally ready bodily for his PCT journey, abandons the path early on in his hike. It’s a robust second when he decides he’s not going to proceed, and a reminder that it takes greater than merely mountaineering to heal from deep psychological wounds. That there are ups and downs to any type of remedy.

Kuehn, proper, and fellow PCT hiker on the path’s starting.

However Kuehn discovered sufficient to understand how essential it was for him to embrace nature and wild areas as a crucial technique of therapeutic. Although he wasn’t profitable on his thru-hike, by the top of the movie he’s determined to pursue coaching as a forest remedy information to stroll with others alongside his similar path.

Impressed by the movie, we spoke with the filmmakers Palmer Morse and Matt Mikkelsen about how they heard of Kuehn’s story, and what it was like attempting to inform such a robust, however delicate story. The movie might be seen in its entirety beneath the dialog.

AJ: How did you initially hear about Brandon’s life?
We met Brandon just a few years in the past whereas taking pictures one other quick movie for the Nationwide Parks Conservation Affiliation in Olympic Nationwide Park. We spent just a few days with Brandon, and in that point we had been in a position to witness him discuss in regards to the impact that spending time exterior had for him and the way severe he was about it. We additionally discovered about his plans to hike the Pacific Crest Path as an final check of this concept of out of doors remedy, and we knew then that only a few days spent with him wasn’t sufficient to seize everything of his story. We stayed involved with Brandon, and some weeks later requested if he was thinking about having us make a movie about him, and he instantly mentioned sure.

Have been you initially planning to hike the entire approach with Brandon on the PCT to movie that? Or did you already know he hadn’t completed the hike and also you recreated the backpacking scenes?
The movie was shot in “real-time,” so we had no clue once we started filming that he wouldn’t end the PCT. He had each intention of mountaineering the entire path, and we had each hope to comply with him alongside the way in which. We truly spent weeks planning out how it could work. Touring out of a van, our plan was to drive alongside the PCT and meet up with him when the path crossed a street and comply with him in for just a few miles, or a day or two in some instances. From day one, we knew that he might not end. When Brandon determined to tug off the path we had been there to seize the second. Brandon recorded himself and saved audio diaries alongside the way in which as properly, which led to among the extra intimate moments of the movie.

Reminders of a earlier life.

Have you learnt how far into the method to develop into a forest remedy information he’s?
Brandon can be taking a course with the Affiliation of Nature and Forest Remedy in April of 2019. The ANFT is a extremely unimaginable group that gives programs everywhere in the world and expeditions for these trying to deal with themselves via forest remedy. He in the end hopes to assist others who’ve skilled trauma by bringing this data he’ll study again to the veteran therapeutic farm he’s now dwelling and dealing on in Jap Washington.

Does Brandon have any plans to strive the PCT once more?
Sure, most undoubtedly. Simply the opposite day he texted us and mentioned “March 2025, PCT” What’s essential to understand about his journey, and this movie, is that the path was by no means actually a villain however relatively a backdrop for the various challenges he confronted internally. Brandon is definitely hoping when he makes an attempt it once more that his household can comply with alongside in a camper, and possibly his son can hike parts with him. If something, this goes to indicate how essential trails like these are for people like Brandon and the way entry and conservation of our public lands and out of doors areas are so essential, not only for veterans like Brandon, however for the enjoyment of all individuals.


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