52 Hikes ... I can do it!
Have you seen those ads on Facebook talking about the 52 Hike Challenge? I have been seeing them for a few months now, but this month I decided to actually click on the link to see what this whole challenge thing was about. The 52 Hike Challenge is a community working together to motivate others to get outside and put foot to the pavement (or dirt), as well as a place "where you will gain physical fitness, mental well-being, make new friends, explore new places, and connect with family, friends and yourself through nature". Sounds pretty good! I love hiking and getting outside, but sometimes the old lazy side of me wins out and I end up staying at home sitting on my phone instead of getting outside. This community would help to keep me accountable and give a goal to work towards. Seems good to me!
The big question is, how exactly do they do this? Well, I scoured their site and they have quite a few resources. For the most part the community and challenge are free. The only paying portion is if you would like to purchase a patch, stickers, journal or a medal when you complete the challenge. I did purchase a patch because I love patches, but it is not required. I just feel that purchases help to keep the website going, so I do not mind supporting them for a good cause. On the free side you get the following... They have several online communities on Facebook which include the main group and local groups. This is where you can go to support each other working towards the same goal and maybe meet a friend or two if you have a local community of participants. They have several ways you can track your hikes to keep you motivated and to tally miles hiked, time hiked, elevation hiked, etc. They have a weather tracker to check conditions before you head out on the trail. They also have a lot of basic hiking info for beginners just starting out... which would be most people that join this challenge, as well as more advanced information for those that have already finished the challenge or just want to get more in depth with their hiking. The best part is that all of this is free to anyone wanting to participate!
The information on the site actually is not anything that you could not find elsewhere, but I do love the concept and any reason to get out there into nature. I do not NEED anyone to cheer me on, but it is nice. I do not NEED a chart, a patch or a journal, but they make it fun. What I really love is knowing there are programs like this that motivate people to get out of their home and see what nature has to offer! I actually would love to have this for my kids because they are on their phones way too much, but that is a whole different story. You cannot make someone change. They have to make that choice themselves. I do like to nudge them though. The 52 Hike Challenge does have a chart and ideas geared just for children, so I might work that into our daily life to get them out more. Have you heard about "The Last Child In The Woods" by Richard Louv? I am also reading that which talks about our younger generations not getting out into nature enough and its affect on them. I will let you know how that is once I finish the book. It's a good read so far though!
MY "FIRST" HIKE
Date: September 14th 2021
Location: Wonder Valley Lower Hills
Miles Hiked: 3
So, my first hike for the 52 Hike Challenge was on September 14th 2021 and it did not go well at all! I was determined to start on this day. I look forward to my hikes, especially my hikes that involve sleeping out under the stars. Well, the day before this hike I could feel myself getting sick. I could feel the doom setting in and I knew it was going to happen because everyone else in my house got sick so far except for me. I tooted my own horn and owned it up to my having a great immune system. Then the virus laughed right back at me and slapped me with a cold. Boo! That did not stop me though. I was determined to hike... and so we did. David and I headed out on the trail after he got off work and we could tell from the start that this was a bad idea. From the beginning we could tell the hike was harder on our bodies. Normally we are fine, but from the start we were struggling. We only got a mile and a half in before we decided to drop our things and set up camp. This was good enough. Even then, I could feel my cold getting worse. We set up our hammocks, ate dinner and went to bed. It was the worst night ever! I tossed and turned. My head pounded and all I could think about is how I wish I had brought some Tylenol with me. By about 2 am I was done. I had not slept at all and I wanted to go home. I was tempted to ask David to hike back home at 2am... but I did not. I waited till morning to talk about the horrible night I had had. Little did I know that he too had a horrible night. He too wanted to ask me to hike back home but did not. We skipped breakfast, packed up and headed home. On the way home he did tell me that he woke up to a family of wild boar walking by. I wish I would have saw that! Maybe next time. So, the lesson learned from this hike... Do not hike when you are sick!!!!
MY SECOND HIKE
Date: September 19th 2021
Location: Wonder Valley Bathtub Falls
Miles Hiked: 5
My second hike was so much better! By that weekend I was feeling more like myself, so I decided to wake up early and head out on a short solo hike. I hiked up the same neighborhood trail that I had hiked up with David last time, only this time I hiked up a bit further to get a few more miles in and to explore a location that I want to camp at on our next hiking trip. This location is about halfway up our local mountain range and has a beautiful view of our neighborhood. The weather was perfect with a nice crisp breeze once I reached my goal destination. I really did not know exactly where I wanted to end up, but I knew I was looking for a location near what I like to call, Bathtub Falls. This is a location where rain water will generally flow in the winter down the mountain and for that reason, a bathtub and water trough were placed here to hold water for the free range cattle. It is really a funny site to see, but I understand the purpose. Just past Bathtub Falls I saw a cow trail lead off to the left and decided to follow this trail. I figure the cows must know all of the best spots to hang out and I was totally right! The trail lead me to a perfect spot that overlooked out little valley with perfect trees for David and I to hang out hammocks from. While here I also decided to test out my hammock rain fly since I have never used it before. The last thing you want to do is learn how to use your rain fly... when you actually need to use it. My rain fly is a WiseFly Lite from Wise Owl Outfitters. Amazingly it was really easy to set up! All you have to do is center the tarp over your hammock, tie the two guy lines off of the ridgeline to your trees, and then stake down the other two with the included stakes. I did not get it quite centered this time, but I know now how to do this pretty easily having done it once now. Luckily it does not rain much in California, but I feel better knowing how to set this up when I need to. All I need now are a few rain drip lines and I should be good to go! After setting up my hammock and rain fly I of course had to relax in this beautiful weather we were having. I laid there swaying in the breeze watching the blades of grass sway as the birds chirped in the distance. I wish I had my book, but I did not really have time to relax anyways. The kids would soon be up and wanting to do something fun, so I had to pack things up and head back down the mountain. Before heading out I did notice down the way a cow that had perished on the hillside. I wonder what happened. Possibly natural causes, but it looked like a coyote had chased it here causing it to slip, fall and break its back. That is totally my guess, but who knows. Still a really amazing site to see a full skeleton. I normally only see parts up in the hills.
So, those were my first two hikes for the 52 Hike Challenge. It will take me a year to finish, but come next September I will feel really good about such a great accomplishment! Who knows, maybe I will convince others to join me and get outdoors instead of sitting in front of a screen. Please comment if you decide to join. Maybe we can start our own little group to cheer each other on! You do not have to hike extensive miles to join this challenge. A mile in your own neighborhood is enough to log in for the week. It is all about adopting a healthier lifestyle. Think about it and let me know. Till next time Happy Hikers!