You read that title right. I finally completed the yearly challenge that I impulsively signed up for. I’m feeling on cloud 9 about this right now. I mean. Super content. The 52 Hike Challenge was a life-changing challenge I took on and it was amazing documenting it all through my social media and on here. I can see how I’ve grown within 12 months of hiking weekly in a few areas of my life. I can say that it was an accomplishment, unlike anything I’ve gotten through my life.
But before I jump into it, what is the 52 Hike Challenge? In my “The Ultimate Guide to Solo Hiking: The Benefits and The Do’s and Donts” article, I explained what the 52 Hike Challenge is and why I decided to join it:
The 52 Hike Challenge (https://www.52hikechallenge.com/) is a global challenge that encourages people to hike once a week (there are 52 weeks in a year), thus you’ll have to challenge yourself to do 52 hikes, but this is one of the best ways to gain the benefits physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Most people who do this challenge set it as a goal for themselves to create a personal journey and let it inspire or motivate them in a lot of those benefits that hiking provides. Upon signing up and doing this challenge, the idea of hiking 52 times is just beyond my imagination, but I’m excited to see where my journey will take me, and one of the things that will help me accomplish this is to embrace the idea of solo hiking. I also recognized that for the last year I wasn’t as active as I would’ve hoped to be. You can read my whole explanation of why I’m participating in this challenge here.“The Ultimate Guide to Solo Hiking: The Benefits and The Do’s and Donts” on From1Girlto1World.com
There you have it. The concept of the challenge is simple, but actually attempting to do the challenge? It can be daunting because life gets busy and it’s going to require you to really move your butt! But what the challenge mostly asks you to do is to commit to going hiking at least once a week. You can choose any day of the week to do it at any time. There is no set rule on that at all.
I admit, I did miss out on a few weeks by not hiking, but I made up for it by killing two within a week. The thing is halfway through this challenge, I FORGOT I was doing the challenge…
I was on that hiker’s high.
“You forgot about the challenge… like how?” That’s what you’re probably thinking right now haha. I mean, not literally, but as I kept making it a thing to schedule a hike once a week, I was choosing to go hike because it made me feel good. I wasn’t crossing off #Hike10 just to go hike. I was so occupied with wanting to get some exercise. I was on that “hiker’s high” (like “runner’s high”).
I learned in the last few years that I am not that motivated in the gym. I do like the machines and things that the gym has to offer, but the feeling I get from hiking in the outdoors is a connection that the gym can’t ever replace within me.
I felt different every time I got off a mountain trail and in a good way. I loved sweating and feeling tired, but then knowing I can keep doing it. I always felt good being on the top the most. I was hydrating myself a lot as I should.
I took advantage of being outside because… it’s free.
Being outside is free (and costs close to nothing – except, of course, some parks do offer admission fees) and that’s what I wanted so bad to feel: freedom. I’ve felt stuck all through high school and college because I had to do what I was told from society (go to class, don’t be late, go join that club, go find an internship, go work, work, work, go date). Of course, these are ALL necessities in life, but there should be an extent where I wanted to breathe and FOR ONCE take care of my mental health and physical health.
This journey was about taking care of my mental health and physical health.
Do you know what 5+ years bought me? I was starting to feel the early effects of being burnt out! I’m only in my early 20’s and it wasn’t helping that with burnout, I was starting to feel severe fatigue and more. According to Psychology Today, the signs of burnout are “physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment”. I needed to reverse those effects so I can feel more productive and ready to think of the next big thing.
Lack of accomplishment. That was a big one that hit me. Yes, I accomplished some great things in my life before: finally getting my driver’s license by 17, graduating from college, landing experience in my field before graduating, and being recognized with my blog. However, for some reason, I felt like there was a big empty space in my heart that needed more fulfilling when it comes to accomplishments. Sure, doing the 52 Hike Challenge is not an accomplishment like buying your own first home or paying off all your student loan debt, but I learned accomplishments can mean different for different people and this challenge definitely taught me people will go on their own pace in life.
Doing the 52 Hike Challenge was the best way to motivate me in goal-setting! Prior to the challenge, I wasn’t in my healthiest state. I wasn’t exercising as much as I should. I was not athletic. I was a beginner in hiking, even though I did it before as a way to bond with my friends and a way to explore a place. I found that hiking was starting to become my passionate hobby, not an obligation by convenience.
You can read my whole article here of the benefits I received from just making it halfway through the challenge. You’ll understand how I was before.
I inspired others.
It’s astonishing really when people tell me they want to go hiking now, even if they never have done it before or are inspired to attempt to do the challenge. It makes me feel really good that me speaking out about my journey could have an impact and as a blogger/writer, that’s always what we hope to happen.
I made a lot of my content based around my hikes from photos to writing about my stories! I think that’s a heck of a good outcome when it comes to doing weekly hikes.
I got chosen to become an ambassador for one of the nation’s biggest hiking organizations, Hike Like A Woman for 2019-2020. The community serves 40,000+ women through their social media channels and I’ve been honored to be able to help create content for them and share my stories and have exclusive membership to connect with like-minded adventurous women who love hiking and volunteering too.
I felt connected with the mind, body, soul, and nature.
The 52 Hike Challenge really does give you all the benefits you could ask for. Before this, I didn’t really have a form of meditation. I found myself hiking on trails, especially alone, that I can meditate and especially when I got to the top of a mountain and it was quiet, I loved being more alone to meditate there. Meditation helps you reduce stress, enhance self-awareness, help your attention span, and reduce anxiety.
When you’re out in nature, you will appreciate seeing what you’re seeing out there. Your eyes aren’t stuck to a piece of technology and distracted by a cat meme or a notification from your crush, rather you’re focused on nature, its wonders, and your footing. When you’re stuck indoors all day, you almost forget how real trees can look or how many plant species to find and learn what those plants are too for your safety. You don’t appreciate sunsets and sunrises as much from the indoors until you’re outside to see it.
You may also see what wildlife lives out there more. I always get excited about seeing an animal that I do not come across often outside. But, it may also be scary such as hearing a pack of coyotes howl on that mountain or an animal growling behind a bush. This is when you know, it’s all real. You’re taking risks but it’ll build your bravery more and helps you be aware that you gotta make sure you’re super prepared.
I faced my fears and prepared for the worst.
The challenge did challenge me in some ways but these were incidences I learned from being a beginner hiker. Some were just inevitable, but you can avoid so much of the effects when you prepare yourself better. Here are some crazy things I had to highlight during my hiking journey:
- I got dehydrated/heat exhaustion once on a trail (which I ended up completing the trail months later).
- I got pricked by a cactus, not once but twice. The second time, I developed a bacterial infection called cellulitis.
- I did my first solo night hiking on October 11th. (I was so scared to run into wildlife since we have wild ones out here in Arizona haha!)
- I went through a trail once where so many bees were around and all you can hear is buzzing. I couldn’t see what kind of bees they were, so not sure if they were Africanized bees or not.
- I saw a rattlesnake hiss in the middle of a trail from a few feet away (the same trail I was dehydrated on).
I’m so glad I came out okay from those experiences and that I never gave up the idea of hiking. It didn’t make me want to quit, instead, it made me more fired up to continue. Things do happen, you know. Here are the main reasons that hiking can scare you if you haven’t done it ever – when in fact, you’re actually stronger than you think you are!
If you can do the challenge, you can do anything else.
This wasn’t something I was particularly aware of until I started saying “Yes” more to things. Those things were things I never believed of myself trying. But going hiking (especially solo hiking) has challenged me to get out there and try things at least once.
For example, I tried Bazilian Jiu-Jitsu that one of my best friends introduced me to for a few classes. My sister also encouraged me to try yoga so we went to a class together and I went to more classes after myself. I never did yoga before that and now I’m encouraged to try practicing it by myself! I did not think yoga was too hard since I already gained a better balance from all my hiking. I also never went roller skating before and never went camping in the desert before too until after the fact I started this challenge.
I also have plans to try to do other new big things once they work out. I got comfortable just having myself and being there for me. I feel that I can face things more without hesitating. Sure, every new thing you do can be nerve-wracking, but it’s a thrill too that adds to your life and can reward you in the long-run.
I looked better.
I wasn’t only feeling healthy from the inside, but from the outside too, and it showed. I felt my skin had improved (it may have to do with the loads of water I was downing from before, during, and after hiking too). I just felt I had a glow to me that wasn’t there before for so long.
Of course, in sunny Arizona, I got plenty of Vitamin D. I breathed in plenty of fresh mountain air. These are all elements from our planet that radiates goodness towards our body like Vitamin D helps gives us necessary vitamins. The fresh mountain air helps with how we breathe oxygen and have healthier hearts.
My weight was being maintained and with hiking, you will essentially lose weight. I had so much fat on my legs but it turned all to muscle tone!! I had problems with my self-esteem towards my appearance for most of my life, but I’ve never felt more confident in my skin until I did this consistent hiking.
It all started with a vision.
I didn’t know anything about the 52 Hike Challenge until I found it from one of the travel-niche followers I follow on my blog’s Instagram. They were tagged and I looked at their Instagram and thought how cool it seemed that people decided to go hike once a week. Their awe-inspiring photos hooked me in!
This was shortly just 3 months later of me moving over to the state of Arizona from the east coast. I knew absolutely no one in this state except for my family and a lot of locals would mention to me about how there are so many mountains and if I have seen them yet. Albeit, I did see mountains from afar but never truly explored in one. I thought maybe if I did the challenge, I could really take advantage of getting to know my new home state.
Well, I did. I probably hiked more than some locals have, to be frank, haha. I just started envisioning myself being on mountains that I would pass by and see from the distance in the cars. After all, I have been traveling back and forth since 2018 when my parents moved here. My vision was also that I would become a badass version of myself and I’ll learn what self-care is really about. I accomplished that.
Before these hikes, I was exploring national parks and that gave me the idea of how grand nature can look. I just needed to find a way to get closer.
By the way, did you know I came from a family who wasn’t outdoorsy at all? I also suffer from vertigo, fear of heights, and motion sickness. Part of what I was trying to vision was to be an outdoors person and to overcome all those things that made me feel weak, scared, and sick when I was young.
The results from my 52 Hike Challenge
I talked about the changes I’ve seen physically, mentally, and emotionally. Now, let’s get to the statistics. How many miles did I end up hiking in all in 2019-2020? What’s the sum of elevation gain did I conquer? Well, using the downloadable Hiking Log provided by the 52 Hike Challenge, I was able to record when I hiked and how much I did.
Sum of elevation gain in 2019-2020: 25,420 feet
Sum of miles in 2019-2020: 138.84 miles
Number of states hiked in: 6 (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, New Jersey, Texas, California)
WOW! What a year. Now, what does this mean after I finished the 52 Hike Challenge? Well, I can have the option to do it again for 2020-2021, but I think I’ll just relax a bit with it. I will, however, KEEP on hiking because I love it! I’ll also keep writing about my hikes and I will continue to see what progress I’ve made for Beyond 52. 🙂
So, that cliche saying “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”? I can tell you that with my testimony, I feel that. Along with trying to set a goal (which is completing the challenge as the big picture), you’re actually going to run into some milestones with yourself. Tie your hiking boots, get outside, and move your butt guys because it can get pretty fun out there! You may also feel yourself up for a challenge. 😉
“The harder the work, the greater the satisfaction in accomplishing it.”Anna May Wong
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