Hiking is the one form of exercise that has never failed me. Or maybe I should say I’ve never failed hiking. I’ve never had to force myself to go on a hike. I’ve never cursed hiking while I was hiking and just wished hiking wasn’t a thing. (I’m looking at you running. And yoga. And burpees.) Until very recently, it was the only form of exercise I truly enjoyed.
I love being outdoors. I love the distraction of the scenery. I love the conversation with my companions. If I’m alone, I love that the time is mine to reflect or to listen to whatever I want. I love the friendly greetings from other hikers and mountain bikers. I love that moment when you make eye contact and smile and acknowledge without speaking that you share something in common. I love the reward of the vista or the waterfall or the quiet meadow or grove of trees that you didn’t know was waiting for you.
I’ve often tried to identify another form of exercise that I might fall in love with the way I have with hiking. It would have to be outdoors. It would have to be something that I would get absorbed into the act of so I wouldn’t think about how hard my body was working. I considered skiing or kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, but those things require even more time and a lot more gear than hiking. I came to the conclusion that there is just simply no good substitute for a hike.
In the past two years, I’ve made more time for hiking, but I’m still not going as often as I’d like. We have a few books on hikes in San Diego County and Southern California that we use to find new trails. I also follow several great hiking Instagram accounts, which is how I stumbled upon the 52 Hike Challenge. I went down the Instagram rabbit hole to learn more about it and found a whole hiking community in my backyard that I didn’t know existed but am excited to be a part of. I knew instantly that it would be on my 40 Reasons to do list. Boiled down to its simplest terms, you hike 52 times in one year (at least a mile), or once each week.
The goal is to make hiking a part of your weekly routine. At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to find the time to hike so often. It’s a time consuming choice of exercise and most of us struggle with packed schedules and lives. I live really close to a lot of trails and it still takes a minimum of 20 minutes to get to a trail head. And then the hike itself is typically going to take 90 minutes to 2 hours, if you’re doing a short one. But for me, making the time for a weekly hike has been so worth it. See paragraph A. There’s just no good substitute for a hike. There’s no better way to stretch your legs, open your lungs, and find the space to clear your head. If there is, I haven’t found it yet. But if you know about it, you must tell me. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to 49 more hikes with my friends, my husband and little one, and MYSELF and the joy of exploring on foot. Holler at me if you want to join me!
Learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge here!