In January 2021, I signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge. The challenge is to complete 52 different hikes in 1 year. The bigger goal is to gain the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits you can get from consistently spending time outdoors and exercising in nature. The concept is fairly simple, but the actual achievement can be daunting because life gets busy! My year-long trek left me with some important lessons that I’d like to share with you.
Preparation is Key
No matter the length or difficulty of the trail, it’s always important to be prepared. That means good shoes, sunscreen, a hat, water, and a versatile bag to carry any essentials with you. I learned quickly that just because a trail is a certain distance, you still have to account for many other factors like weather, proper hydration and being in good enough shape to complete it.
The Accountability of the Challenge can be Applied to Anything
I was consistent at the start of the challenge due to sheer motivation and eagerness to get out there and hike. But the longer I was doing it the less it felt like a challenge, and the more it just felt like my weekend plans. I didn’t have to begrudgingly get myself out the door like I do when I go to the gym because it was a unique workout that I looked forward to.
I think the roots of the challenge can be applied to any New Year's resolution or wellness goal. If you can find something that excites you so much that the commitment feels easy, the progress will come readily. For instance, this next year I am hoping to commit to the adventure challenge. Instead of committing to 52 hikes, I can commit to 52 new adventures- whether it be rock climbing, attending a cooking class or visiting a National Park.
Solo Hikes can be scary, but incredibly rewarding
Hiking is so much fun with a buddy- if you partake in the challenge, I highly recommend having a friend or partner participate with you. My mom and sister joined me in the challenge which was a HUGE part of holding myself accountable. When they couldn’t go with me I would beg and bribe my friends, but eventually they had to tell me no.
I began opting for solo hikes and I grew to absolutely love them. At first, I was a little terrified at the sounds of my lonely footsteps and random rustles in the bushes. But the more I hiked solo, the more I appreciated the quiet. Being alone with nature truly allows you to explore your thoughts and feelings. You’ll find yourself feeling renewed and de-stressed before you return to the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day.
There’s nothing quite like a Hiker’s High
You know that feeling you get after a really good sweat session? Take that feeling, and put it on top of a mountain or hill you just climbed- it is so gratifying. I love applying Sweet Sweat before I hike to really increase my sweat and make the mileage that much more worth it.
The views you take in at the top or even just reaching the end of a hike is extremely rewarding. Reaching a peak or a finish line is important because it reminds you that you did something for yourself today. Moving your body outside, sweating away your stresses and feeling confident about yourself are all reasons why this challenge was so beneficial. The endorphin release and sense of accomplishment is what makes hiking so rewarding and worth your time.
I highly recommending challenging yourself this year. Remember, there is nothing you can’t do!
To learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge, visit: https://www.52hikechallenge.com
Written By: Natalie Anzivino ; @natalieanzivino