National Take a Hike Day is November 17th! Hiking is a big passion for our Content Coordinator, Katie Ely. She decided to take on the 52 Hike Challenge this year and is here to tell you all about it.
The 52 Hike Challenge was created in 2014 when founders, Karla and Philip, wanted an individual hiking challenge. They each had a different inspirations for beginning this challenge, but the outcome was similar: a love for being active in the outdoors. Anyone is able to join and try the 52 Hike Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to "get outdoors and hike once a week for an entire year." It's as simple as that.
There are so many benefits you can get from hiking. First of all, it is such an easy way to get exercise and improve your physical health. It doesn't matter if the trail you choose is short or long, or whether or not there's a big elevation gain, you are still getting a full-body workout. Hiking can help you build stronger muscles and bones, and improve your cardiovascular health. Your stability and balance will also improve because of all the different types of terrain you're navigating through.
Time in the outdoors has always been known to improve mental health. There has been a lot of research and studies that prove that being in nature helps with people's mental health and wellbeing. Nature has a way to just make you feel happier and less stressed. I know that I always feel better after spending some time outside. Hikes are extra special to me for improving physical and mental health. My body always feels great after a hike and I have an appreciation that my body is able to take me to some cool places. The appreciation for my physical health combined with the appreciation I have for the beautiful nature I'm hiking through both help with my mental health.
I found out about the 52 Hike Challenge when my mom did it a couple years ago. When I made the move from Michigan to Utah last fall, I knew I had to take on the challenge myself since I was surrounded by such amazing scenery. The second 2022 started, I began my 52 Hike Challenge. The technical rule of the challenge is to hike once a week all year, but I decided to just try and hit 52 hikes in a year, not worrying about when I complete them. I also decided to challenge myself and not repeat hikes. Not repeating hikes makes me explore even more around Utah, which has been exciting. I am so lucky to live in a place that has so many different trails accessible to me. If you happen to live in an area with less outdoor recreation accessibility, don't fret! You are still able to complete the 52 Hike Challenge. This is how they define what is considered a hike. "A hike in your local park, an urban hike, a snowshoe hike on flat land (for those who are in colder climates), a trail run, a climb in the mountains, etc. If a measurement must be made, we will say a minimum of 1 mile each hike." The reason why they are not strict on the rules is because they want the 52 Hike Challenge to be accessible and attainable by anyone and everyone. Remember that the main goal is to just get active in the outdoors!
So far, my favorite hikes have been the Wall Street + Peekaboo Loop and Hat Shop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is my favorite National Park, so these hikes were extra special to me. Wall Street + Peekaboo was absolutely stunning with all of the hoodoos surrounding me. Hat Shop Trail was a less-populated trail, so there were a lot of moments where no one else was in sight. It was so quiet and peaceful, and I loved it.
On hikes, I like to make sure I am prepared for anything. For safety, I bring a small first aid kit, pepper spray, and a whistle. I think it's especially important to have safety gear when I am hiking alone. If I am on a snowy trail, I wear microspikes on my hiking boots for traction. To track my hikes, I wear my Garmin watch and connect it to the Strava app.
The end of the year is approaching, and so is my 52 Hike Challenge. I am so close to finishing it, and I am excited to be able to say I've completed the challenge! As I am writing this, I have completed 39 hikes. My total milage so far is 123.75 miles. That seems like quite a bit, but I honestly thought it would be more at this point. Looking back at all my hikes though, the average length was only about 3 miles. There are so many longer hikes near where I live, and as someone who loves hiking, I'm shocked that I didn't go on more lengthy hikes. I am going to challenge myself to complete longer hikes in the future. Shorter hikes are nice when you don't have a ton of time, but still want to get outside. I enjoy longer hikes because it feels like a great escape from the world. I love keeping my phone in my pocket (except for taking pictures) and just really taking in and appreciating the beautiful nature around me.
Regardless of what my total milage comes out to be, I am proud of myself for taking on the 52 Hike Challenge, and I am excited to keep getting outside and finding new trails!
Photo by Emily Trombly
Photo by Emily Trombly
Many Liberty Mountain employees enjoy getting out on the trails! This summer, some employees from our Utah location got together for a morning hike before work. We hiked up Sunset Peak, and it was awesome to get some steps in and see some beautiful views before heading into the office.