I want to invite you to join me in a challenge. The 52 Hike Challenge. But before we discuss that, let me tell you why I’m even considering this challenge.
I’ve always loved being outside. It doesn’t matter what type of weather – sun, rain, snow, windy, even sleet. The only weather that can keep me indoors is really hot and humid days. But, for the most part, being outside is what helps keep me grounded and recharged.
I don’t think I realized that until late 2015 while we were living in Singapore. We were supposed to go on a trip to Munich for Oktoberfest that was pushed out a year. I was so deeply disappointed and knew that I really needed a vacation…a proper long vacation. At the time I travelled a lot for work and in general from one densely populated urban location to another. And while most of these locations had parks and gardens I would wander around – the great outdoors wasn’t really a part of my world during this time.
Realizing that his wife needed a break, my husband booked us a last-minute guided hiking trip around Mont Blanc in Europe. This would be a 13-day journey starting in Switzerland and then meandering through France and Italy. We were most definitely not in the best shape for this trip as we had not had any time to train in elevation, but we packed up our gear and headed out for the adventure.
I’m not going to lie…the first week was rough. I was most definitely out of shape for this kind of hike, and I struggled. But as tired as I was, I was also strangely energized. The air was so clean, the scenery so breathtaking, and working my way in and around and over the terrain deeply satisfying from a personal accomplishment perspective.
By the second week I had my hiking rhythm (and breathing) and could enjoy myself even more. On one of the last days, we found ourselves at an overlook of the mountain ranges around us. It was a beautiful sunny day. I took a quiet moment and just breathed it all in. I think it was the most that I had felt like myself in several years.
And then the trip came to its end; as all vacations do eventually. When my husband and I made our way through the gauntlet that is international airports and sat down I just started to sob. I couldn’t imagine going back to the land of concrete and traffic. In this moment I recognized how important it was to me to have regular opportunities to connect with nature. It couldn’t be just a once every 2–3-year type of thing.
So here I am today. It’s eight years after that trip. And that need to connect with nature has become an important part of how I live my life. We’ve moved to an area that gets us “into the woods” within 15-20 minutes. I’ve started an edible garden in our backyard “oasis” which keeps me connected to nature in a different way. An area that you can often find me working from in the spring and summer. Plus, I enjoy taking a walk when the cherry blossoms are blooming, a run during the first snowfall of the season, and not letting the rain stop me from heading outside.
So, this year, when a friend of mine posted that she was taking on the 52 Hike Challenge I had to find out what she was up to. The goal of this challenge is to get people outside at least once a week to take a hike for an entire year. And to make it as inclusive as possible, a hike is anything 1 mile or more and it can include a walk around your neighborhood, a trail, or even a snowshoe adventure. It’s all about committing to getting outdoors and moving. They even have a log that you can download to keep track. And the bonus…it’s FREE. They of course offer merchandise you can purchase if you’d like including a completion medal. And some of the trails you go to might have entrance or parking fees – but that’s your choice.
The challenge was created by Karla Amador who was navigating an emotional time in her life including a divorce and was inspired by Phillip Stinis and his weight-loss journey through hiking. In 2014, Karla decided to hike at least once per week for a year to achieve 52 hikes as her New Year’s resolution. Together she and Phillip completed the challenge in 8.5 months seeing some amazing sites and traveling to some wonderful destinations as well. They decided they needed to share this challenge and to inspire others to take on the challenge and experience the personal healing and growth that can be found in nature.
It’s now March 2022, and my husband and I just did our ninth hike of the year this past weekend. Sometimes we take the dogs and other times it’s just the two of us. We’ve already discovered some gorgeous hikes that are no more than 30 minutes away from our home that we didn’t know existed. So not only are we getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors; we’re also exploring more of the great city and region we live in.
Because of this, the 52 Hike Challenge officially makes our “Things We Love” list.
Let us know if you join in and share some of your pictures @ The Corner.