We learned about the 52 Hike Challenge close to a year ago. Our annual trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park seemed like a good time to start a new hiking adventure, so we took the first steps of an incredible journey during the first days of September. The next few months would take us to waterfalls, the top of a volcano, natural bridges, and more. Do we have your attention now?
We have had a lot of questions about what the challenge is and how it works. The 52 Hike Challenge is one of the easiest ways to change your life and improve every aspect of your health. Just take a hike. Take one hike of at least a mile in distance each week for a year. We are willing to bet that you’ll start to add distance and seek harder hikes as you go. You get to document it all on the spreadsheet that you are sent when you sign up for the challenge. You’ll see your time improve on the go-to local hike that might have been difficult in the beginning. You’ll see your mileage increase and the difficulty rankings of chosen trails go up as you reach out of your comfort zone to seek new hikes. This is just your first round.
Every hike will open your eyes to the world around you and increase your sense of adventure. You will be inclined to protect the trails that you walk and pick up litter as you go. While you love your local trails, you will begin to seek out the trails that are home to history and grand physical features. Finishing one round of 52 hikes won’t be enough, so, like us, you might choose to graduate to the Adventure Series.
At least half of our hikes took place at National Park Service sites (national parks, national monuments, and national military parks, and more.) We also became Wild Keepers for Keep it Wild in the spring. Realizing that many of our hikes already met some of the objectives for the Adventure Series has made for an easy decision to try it out for our second round, which we just started yesterday. We took a local hike and were able to gather some friends, which, it turns out, is one of the objectives. We’re on our way to success!
Speaking of success, the folks behind 52 Hike Challenge recognize that taking 52 hikes in a year can be a big deal when living in a world that is pulling us in so many directions. They have awesome medals that you can purchase to commemorate your achievement! It was awesome to slip our medals on as we completed our final hike at Devils Tower National Monument. The best part was having a complete stranger ask about what I had received a medal for and excitedly asking to shake my hand after hearing the explanation. There will be weeks where you are tired, when the weather is less than ideal, or you just have a lot going on and won’t want to hit the trails. You can always draw from the incredible Instagram community when inspiration is lagging. Just check out #52hikechallenge to see men, women, and families who are working to make healthy lifestyle changes, experience local sites, explore national parks, stick it to cancer, overcome stereotypes about disabilities, or beat addictions with every hike. You will never be alone for this. You can do it. Your FINISHER medal is waiting!