In December 2017 I was on the hunt for a hiking goal after having completed a solo hike across Isle Royale National Park. As I researched trails and hiking groups, I happened on the website for the 52 Hike Challenge. As I read through the site, I knew I’d found my next goal. The idea is simple. Take one hike a week for a year.
I signed up for the basic, free option and announced my goal on my Facebook page. Putting it out there made it real. I knew that if I posted a little about each hike I’d be more accountable. I knew that my family and friends would ask me about it which would also help me stay accountable.
As I hiked through that first year so much changed in my life. I also looked for a like-minded community of hikers since many of my friends think my adventures are a little nutty. It’s not their thing. I found Women Who Hike and joined as a Christmas gift to myself. While I was doing this, my mom’s health was slowly declining. She had worried about my solo hiking so was glad that I had found a group of ladies to who I could hike with. As I got further into the year, challenges came along. Work, more issues with mom’s health, my son was starting to look at colleges. Sometimes I’d go a couple weeks without hiking.
But as I kept to the challenge as best I could I found that when there wasn’t a hike on my schedule I got a bit more crabby. I didn’t sleep well. So I squeezed those hikes in wherever I could, sometimes doubling up. Then it was building vacation around how many hikes I could get in over a week. When I traveled for work, I’d figure out how to work in a hike. I started taking pictures and drawing again. I hadn’t done that in years. I hiked on beautiful summer days, on days so cold that all you could see was my sunglasses because of the layers I needed to keep warm. I hiked in the rain and mud.
Along the way, I’ve made a whole crew of new girlfriends that are right there ready to hike. I’ve hiked with my son in so many beautiful places. I’ve gained confidence and strength physically and mentally to deal with whatever life throws at me. I hiked the day before my mom died and in the days after. I shared my 52nd hike with a small group of family and friends that included my dad who I had never hiked with before.
This simple challenge has given me a place of strength and solitude, friendship and fellowship, it pushed me to add another goal – to hike in all of the 67 hike-able Minnesota State Parks. It’s fueled a crazy patch obsession. It reconnected me with a college roommate. Best of all, when life gets a little too much a hike in the woods restores me.
Has the challenge changed, me? Definitely. In the best ways. So if you want to try out a hike sometime, let me know. I’m happy to share my adventures with you!
For more information on the 52 Hike Challenge visit www.52hikechallenge.com. There are so many ways to participate. All you have to do is start.
To learn more about my current challenge status, head on over to my 52 Hike Challenge Page.
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