The 52 Hike Challenge – Completed

When I started the 52 Hike Challenge I had intended to write a post about each hike.  I kept up for the first couple of months, until I started hiking multiple times a week.  Once I fell behind I couldn’t seem to catch back up.  With the start of the new year I resolved to do better, I would write my post after each hike and catch up with the missing posts.  I don’t think that lasted a month.

My lack of motivation in writing about my hikes however, had nothing to do with my exuberant motivation in completing my hikes.  When I started the My 52 Hike Challenge I was a reluctant hiker and honestly was unsure whether I would be able to complete the Challenge or not.  But once I started hiking regularly, and more importantly, once I started hiking solo I quickly evolved from a reluctant hiker to an enthusiastic hiker and completed the Challenge in 7 months!

The 52 Hike Challenge was a catalyst for a lot of changes within myself over the last year and I’m not satisfied having the posts floating around in writers purgatory.  So here they are, each of my 52 hikes, 217.2  total miles!!!

Hike 1:  Badger Springs Trail ~ Aqua Fria National Monument with the husband and dog – July 30, 2016

I’d hiked Badger Springs before but didn’t know about the petroglyphs. We spent time cooling off in the river while we were there as well.

Hike 2:  Phoenix Mountain Preserve with the Phoenix 2-Hour Beginners Hiking Group – August 4, 2016 

Stepping way out of my comfort zone and hiking with a group, for the first time without the husband.

Hike 3:  Glendale Memorial Cemetery – Solo Urban Hike – August 17, 2016

After stopping to pull a dead dog out of the middle of the road so it wouldn’t continue getting hit by cars an early morning urban hike in a local cemetery seemed appropriate.

Hike 4: 100 Trail Part 1 ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve – Solo – August 19, 2016

This was the first time I’ve ever planned to go hiking any real distance by myself. It was scary and liberating all at the same time!

Hike 5:  Martha’s Butte ~ Petrified Forest National Park with B – August 26, 2016

On the surface this appeared an unsuccessful hike, we didn’t reach our destination, and that was frustrating. So we took a break, I released my feelings of frustration and looked at what was successful. This was the first ever hike for my 9 ½ year old foster dog. It was a successful solo hike outside of my local area and without an actual trail to follow. And I had my first actual wildlife sighting, a Pronghorn while on a trail, not counting lizards and birds.

Hike 6:  Blue Mesa & Painted Desert Rim Trails ~ Petrified Forest National Park with B – August 27, 2016

Rained out of our planned backpacking trip, we explored the park and completed two short hikes on established trails. This is the Blue Mesa Trail.
Taking in our surroundings on the Desert Rim Trail.

Hike 7:  Badger Springs Trail ~ Aqua Fria National Monument with my mom, the husband, and the dogs – September 10, 2016

Mom came for her first visit and wanted to go hiking. We went back to the Agua Fria because it offers a little of everything Arizona has to offer.

Hike 8:  Montezuma’s Castle and Well with mom – September 11, 2016

Hiking and history while exploring Indian Ruins.

Hike 9:  100 Trail Part 2 ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve – Solo – September 24, 2016

The date of this hike is a very significant date for me and I made a point to go hiking specifically for the opportunity to clear my head and have some alone time. After rounding a particular corner I felt compelled to stop. The view here was not any different from any I’ve seen before, but there was something different about this spot.  I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds me every day of my life and overcome by an immediate sense of peace, and I knew at that moment that my friend, my guardian angel was there on the trail with me. And then I started to laugh, because he would hate hiking!!!  I stayed in that spot for several minutes talking with my friend and reflecting on how much my life has changed in the almost 11 years since I’ve lost him.

Hike 10:  Apache Wash Loop Trail ~ Phoenix Sonoran Preserve – Solo – September 25, 2016

I’d been battling an upper respiratory plague that hit hard the morning of this hike and I didn’t want to get up early, but with views like this I’m happy I did!

Hike 11:  Mayflower Bocawina National Park in Belize with the husband and resort mates – October 7, 2016

When I started this Challenge it never occurred to me that any of my hikes would take place outside of Arizona and certainly not outside the United States, but here I am hiking in the Belize jungle.

Hike 12:  100 Trail Part 3 ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve – Solo – October 11, 2016

The day after returning from Belize I happened to drive past the trailhead for the next section of the 100 Trail and thought to myself that I should have brought my hiking gear… I immediately went home and got it!

Hike 13:  Esplanade/Badger Brawl Loop ~ Phoenix Sonoran Preserve – Solo – October 22, 2016

I am not a morning person, but desert sunrises sure make getting up early worthwhile.

Hike 14:  100 Trail Part 4 ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve with the dog – October 24, 2016

As she gets older the heat affects her more, it finally cooled down enough that I could take her on a non-water hike.

Hike 15:  Toothaker/Butterfield Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Solo – October 27, 2016

With this hike I begin the Maricopa County Parks 100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge.

Hike 16:  Lake Pleasant Regional Park – Ranger Led Group Hike – October 28, 2016

Prior to the 100 Miles Challenge I had no idea there were hiking trails at Lake Pleasant, let alone Ranger guided hikes.

Hike 17:  Gray Fox to Ironwood Trail ~ White Tank Mountain Regional Park with the dog – October 31, 2016

At this point in the Challenge I reached the point where I was no longer trying to fit hiking into my day, rather I began trying to fit my day around hiking.

Hike 18: Quail/Rainbow/Baseline Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park with a friend – November 4, 2016

Stepping out of my comfort zone again to meet and hike with another Challenge participant.

Hike 19: Coldwater/Gadsden/Butterfield Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Solo – November 5, 2016

I had a lot of time to ponder on this hike and I realized that the more I hike the more I WANT to hike! This comes as a big surprise to me since I have always had a love/hate relationship with hiking. I’ve always loved being outdoors but I hated the physical activity of hiking. I’ve always associated hiking with summits and because of respiratory issues even the slightest incline has me breathing like a fish out of water. But since I’ve starting hiking solo I plan hikes without summits. This has been revolutionary!

Hike 20:  Beardsley Trail ~ Lake Pleasant Regional Park – Solo – November 6, 2016

Feeling tall as I realized that in just 3 ½ short months I went from wondering how it would ever be possible to hike just once a week to now hiking 3-4 times per week.

Hike 21:  Wild Burro Trail ~ Lake Pleasant Regional Park with the dog – November 10, 2016

We didn’t see any wild burros but we did see a coyote with its lunch!

Hike 22:  Cottonwood to Yavapai Trail ~ Lake Pleasant Regional Park – Solo – November 11, 2016

This time I did see the burros!

Hike 23:  Pipeline Trail ~ Lake Pleasant Regional Park with the dog – November 17, 2016

National Take a Hike Day

Hike 24:  Multi Trail Loop in Sedona with Women Who Hike – November 19, 2016

I almost cancelled this hike because of my social anxiety. I’m so thankful that I didn’t. It was a great hike with a group of amazing women, several I am happy to now call friends!

Hike 25:  Multi Trail Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Solo – November 20, 2016

A short solo hike to recover from all the stimulation of the previous days group hike was just what I needed.

Hike 26:  Yavapai Trail ~ Lake Pleasant with the husband and dog – November 25, 2016

This is how we spent Black Friday.

Hike 27:  Mule Deer and Wildlife Trails ~ White Tank Mountain Regional Park – Solo – December 1, 2016

Since I’ve started hiking regularly my stress level is at an all time low, not just when I’m on the trail but all the time. Hiking has become my therapy!

Hike 28:  Go John Trail ~ Cave Creek Regional Park with the husband – December 4, 2016

The husband prefers mountain biking over hiking these days, but when his bike is in the shop he’ll come hiking with me.

Hike 29:  Rainbow/Toothaker Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Solo – December 9, 2016

Let’s not become so preoccupied with our destination that we forget to stop, look around, and enjoy our journey.

Hike 30: Baseline Trail ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park with the dog – December 14, 2016

We find time for those things that are important to us. My and my dogs happiness is important to me and we find happiness on the trail, so despite a full day I made time for a short hike.

Hike 31:  Oak Creek in Sedona with the husband and dogs – December 17, 2016

Because sometimes you just have to hike in your cookie monster jammies!

Hike 32:  Ford Canyon/Mesquite Canyon Loop ~ White Tank Mountain Regional Park – Solo –      December 23, 2017

I hate this day. I had hoped that a hike would pull me out of the past and bring me some peace, unfortunately the gloomy weather and damp coldness of the day only accentuated my mood.

Hike 33:  Circumference/Ridgeline Loop ~ Deems Hill with co-workers – December 29,  2016

My schedule finally worked out so I could attend one of the monthly group hikes organized by my work unit.

Hike 34:  Courthouse Butte Loop in Sedona with friends – January 3, 2017

Impromptu trip to Sedona to meet a fellow Hike Like A Woman Ambassador.

Hike 35:  State to Flume Trail ~ Cave Creek Regional Park with the dog – January 5, 2017

She’s not always fun on a leash, but her smiling face during hikes always makes the struggle worthwhile.

Hike 36:  Bajada and Black Rock Trails ~ White Tank Mountain Regional Park with the dogs –           January 13, 2017

I don’t usually take my older dog hiking, she doesn’t have the endurance for it, but we recently discovered she has separation anxiety when left at home without her sister (we’ve only had her since August).  However, having just had a tumor surgically removed from her chin I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her home alone.  And I didn’t want our other dog to miss out on her hike, so I opted for two short hikes, with a break between them, with both dogs.

Hike 37:  Butterfield/Gadsden Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Solo – January 15, 2017

The clouds did not look this ominous when we started out. Somehow I made it through this hike without getting rained on.

Hike 38:  South/Mule Deer Loop ~ White Tank Mountain Regional Park – Solo – January 26, 2017

It was cold and I had all but given up on hiking for the day, but the husband kept nagging me to go. So I went. It was exactly what I needed to boost my energy and my mood.

Hike 39:  The Wave Cave ~ Superstition Mountains with the husband and a friend – January 28, 2017

We attempted this hike last year and never made it to the cave. This was the first and so far only time I’ve ever not completed a hike. It was SO gratifying to reach that cave… even if we did lose the trail and have to bushwhack for a bit!

Hike 40: Toothaker/Butterfield Loop ~ Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Solo – January 29, 2017

100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge Completed!!!

Hike 41:  Waterfall Trail ~ White Tank Mountain Regional Park with coworkers – February 2, 2017

Checked off a hike with my coworkers that I normally avoid because of how busy the trail is, but if I’m already with a group…

Hike 42:  Lookout Mountain Circumference/Summit – Solo – February 20, 2017

Lookout Mountain was the first mountain I ever summited. It is now also the first mountain I’ve summited solo.

Hike 43:  Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area – Ranger Led Group Full Moon Hike – February 10, 2017

Over 100 people showed up for this group hike, yet somehow the numbers didn’t seem overwhelming… must have been the full moon magic!

Hike 44:  Shadow Mountain with the husband and dogs – February 12, 2017

It’s a rare treat when we all go out hiking together!

Hike 45:  Lonnie’s Loop ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve with Phoenix 2-hour Beginners Group –       February 15, 2017

The anxiety of group hikes is less by cover of night.

Hike 46:  1A Loop ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve – Solo – February 16, 2017

I didn’t expect the steepness of this hike, but the views within this canyon were worth the work of getting there.

Hike 47:  Shaw Butte Loop ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve with the husband and dogs – February 22, 2017

The weather was perfect so we took the dogs out for a short hike.

Hike 48:  Esplanade/Badger Brawl Loop ~ Phoenix Sonoran Preserve – February 23, 2017

Went to the desert with a 6 and a 9 mile option with no idea which I was going to complete until I came to the turn off. The desert was alive with spring so I went the full 9 miles.

Hike 49:  Spur Cross/Metate/Tortuga Loop ~ Spur Cross Conservation Area – Solo – February 25, 2017

I was to meet a new friend for a hike but she had to cancel, I went on the hike anyway.

Hike 50:  Shaw Butte Circumference/Summit Trails ~ Phoenix Mountain Preserve – Solo – March 1, 2017

Exercise-induced asthma is the reason I struggle so much with inclines. I’ve got an inhaler now, I still struggle, but it’s time to start challenging myself a little more.

Hike 51:  Spur Cross/Dragonfly Loop ~ Spur Cross Conservation Area with the dog – March 9, 2017

HIGH snake alert on the trail almost had me turned around before we even started. Reluctantly I went ahead anyway. My anxiety was too high for me to enjoy the hike, but the dog sure did.

Hike 52:  Dixie Mountain Loop ~ Phoenix Sonoran Preserve with the husband – March 12, 2017

For my final hike of the Challenge I chose a trail with not one but two summits, just to prove I could do it!
As I sat atop this, the second summit of my final hike in the Challenge, all alone, I had plenty of time to think about all I’d accomplished during my 52 hikes.

When I committed to doing this Challenge I really wasn’t sure why I was doing it.  Was it as simple as getting a crazy idea stuck in my head?  Or was it that I was looking for ways to be healthier without traditional exercise but needed accountability?  Or was it just needing to get out of my head for a while so I could let go of the built up stress from my job?  Or was it that I was overwhelmed by the hold technology has on our lives and I needed to unplug?  Or was it the allure of exploring new areas that finding new trails provided?  Or was it that I was looking to find something within myself,  an answer to a question I didn’t know at the time.

The answer is yes.  To each and every single one of those questions, YES!

During the Challenge there were moments of discomfort as I moved outside of my comfort zone, but without movement there can be no growth, and without growth we become stagnate.  The 52 Hike Challenge gave me the push I didn’t know I needed to get outside.  Getting outside helped me to discover a completely different person inside of me, a confident and capable outdoors woman!

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4 thoughts on “The 52 Hike Challenge – Completed

  1. I’m impressed with all of your hiking! Don’t know if I could do 52 in one year, it’s too hot! Also love the pic with your dogs tongue hanging out! Haha cute

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    1. The heat here in Phoenix makes hiking in the summer difficult, so we either get up super early, go where there’s water, or travel north where the temps are a little more tolerable! Bertha’s tongue always hangs out, here previous owners neglected her and most of her teeth are worn way down, it’s one of the many reasons we love her so much!

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