Every now and then I get an idea stuck in my head that I know is crazy but nevertheless I can’t let go. The latest such idea is the 52 Hike Challenge. I don’t recall exactly how I first came across the challenge but I can assure you I was not seeking it out, not consciously anyway. But once I saw it I couldn’t get it out of my head. This of course is crazy because as I’ve mentioned before I have a very love/hate relationship with hiking, more hate I think. But I love being outdoors. This summer specifically I’ve had a craving for nature, a need to just get away, turn everything off and recharge my batteries.
The 52 Hike Challenge “is a global movement to inspire and encourage individuals to step outside their comfort zone in order to achieve the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits that are gained from getting outdoors”. The guidelines of the Challenge are pretty basic, get outside and hike 52 times within a period of 52 weeks. Each hike should be a minimum of one mile and they’ve even generously included local parks and urban areas as appropriate hiking locations for those that live in wilderness challenged areas. So a minimum of one one-mile hike a week for 52 weeks. On paper that doesn’t seem so difficult. But lets look at my hiking history.
When I was young, between the ages of 6-10ish, we traveled from Michigan to Tennessee a few times a year and while there would go on nature hikes ranging anywhere from 1 to 7 miles.
Between the early 1980’s and 2009 the only other hiking I did was a 2o mile backpack trip as part of a school program in the 6th or 7th grade, which I completely forgot about until I was editing this post for publication. About the only thing I remember from that trip was that it was cold, it was rainy, my backpack felt heavier than I weighed, and I hated every single step of it.
Here is what my hiking has looked like since 2009:
2009: 1 hike; 3 miles – notice the jeans and lack of water (we had one bottle to share)
2010: 2 hikes; probably less than 2 miles each
2011: 1 hike; probably less than 2 miles
2012: 33 hikes; this was the first year we backpacked the Grand Canyon but our average hike was 3 miles
2013: 19 hikes; average hike 5 miles, we planned to hike Havasu Falls but cancelled the trip due to severe flash floods
2014: 8 hikes; average hike 2 miles
2015: 7 hikes; 47.9 miles including Havasu Falls
2016: Almost eight months into the year, 7 hikes: 14.6 miles
After seeing my hiking history laid out like that you may be asking yourself, I know I still am, why. Why are you doing this? The easiest answer, I have no clue. As I said, sometimes I get an idea in my head and I can’t get it out. The more difficult answer lies somewhere within the reasons why I can’t get the idea out of my head in the first place. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been looking for ways to be healthier without traditional exercise but need accountability. Perhaps it’s because I have a very stressful job and just need to get out of my head for a while. Perhaps it’s because I’m overwhelmed by the hold technology has on our lives and I want to unplug. Perhaps it’s the additional opportunities to travel, even if only locally, that finding new trails with provide. Perhaps I’m looking to find something within myself or an answer to a question I don’t know yet. Or perhaps it’s simply for the sake of the challenge itself.
Regardless the reason, I have committed to this challenge and I look forward to sharing the journey with you, all the ups and the downs!