Reflecting on 52 Hikes
I'm sure some of you have heard of the popular 52 hike challenge. It caught my eye around January 1st of this year, due to lots of people posting on social media about it. Since, coincidentally, I started out my year with a small hike as well, I decided to loosely follow along with the 52 hike challenge. Disclaimer- I am in no way affiliated with the official 52 hike challenge folks. You can look them up and get all the official info if you want to. I really did not follow all the "guidelines" of the challenge. For example, I didn't tag all my hikes with challenge hashtag on social media. I also counted each and every hike I did, even though some were on the same day. They were different trails, so why not count them separately? Some may have been "non-traditional" hiking in cities or partially on pavement. I'm also not going to submit my info as a finisher or get a medal. For me, it's not really about recognition because it's an ongoing process. I don't plan on stopping any time soon.
By the end of April, I had done 30 hikes already so James was like "hey, if you keep it up you could get to 52 by the end of June". So that became my new challenge. And yes, I DID IT. On June 30, 2018, I hiked my 52nd hike. In past years, I've hiked quite a bit but never kept track of too many details. Sometimes I wrote about it on my blog; sometimes I didn't. If I had to guess, I would say I hiked 20-30 times a year in the past, including going to trails at local parks. I tended to only write about or really focus on "big" hikes and was really hard on myself if I couldn't get up to the mountains every weekend to hike (which was many weekends).
So what have I learned by actually focusing on hiking at least once a week and keeping detailed statistics? A lot, actually. So for starters, here are some statistics:
- Over 50% of my hikes were on weekdays or weeknights
- About 36% of my hikes were repeats: Little Ridge Park 9x, Indian Seats 5x, Bowmans Island 3x, Preachers Rock 2x
- About 60% of my hikes were near water
- James came with me on 22 hikes
- I did 44% of my hikes alone
- 63% of my hikes were under 3 miles
- I hiked in the following geographical areas: All over North Georgia, metro and suburban Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, South Carolina, and Southern California
- I hiked the most frequently in June and the least in February
- My highest mileage month was May and lowest February
- My total mileage was 127.41
So first of all, I feel like a failure with only 127.41 miles over 52 hikes and 6 months. But for most of those months (not so much in May and June), I was also going to the gym 4-5 times a week. Need to get back to the gym lol. But ultimately, what you can see from this is, you don't have to put off hiking until the weekends. If I had not focused on hiking whenever and wherever I could, I wouldn't have been able to do this. I have hiked at sunset, sunrise, in the rain, in freezing temps, in the mountain, and in the desert. I used to think hiking in the mountains was the only thing that mattered, but I'm not always in the mountains. Sometimes I'm in Augusta, walking on a flat, gravel path. Sometimes I'm really lucky and in San Diego. A lot of the time, though, I'm in Cumming walking along the trail at Little Ridge Park or Sawnee Preserve. No matter where I am, I try to get out and explore.
Secondly, quantity really does not matter. Ultimately, I would like to stick with the goal of hiking once a week, but I do want to focus on higher mileage hikes. While I have enjoyed doing 3-4 "little hikes" every week, it's not increasing my fitness or really challenging me physically. When I hiked 9.5 miles of the AT in May, I felt like I had a breakthrough. I really want to do more hikes of that nature and that will probably be my focus for the remainder of the year. But I'm sure I'll still end up hiking all those little hikes too... Hiking this frequently did, however, challenge me to spend my time differently and focus more on writing, in addition to hiking. I have also now connected to others in the hiking community, such as Atlanta Trails and Girls Who Hike.
Here are 50 pics to represent my hike. Hike #51 was at Little Ridge Park and I have more than enough pics included to represent that. BUT WHAT WAS HIKE #52? You'll have to wait for that, although if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know.