Our inaugural year of Over 50 Outside was a great success! From laughter on mountaintops to tears around the campfire, this inspiring group of women held back for nothing and conquered 52 hikes in a year.
To celebrate their outstanding accomplishment and highlight the power of getting outside regularly, we surveyed our community of women to hear about their 52 Hike Challenge:
- Their favorite part of the Over 50 Outside / 52 Hike Challenge program
- The most memorable moments from hiking throughout the year
- Top challenges encountered and how they overcame them
- Number of hikes and miles trekked
- And more!
In this recap, you will hear from the women themselves on how the 52 Hike Challenge impacted them not only on the trail but long after they stepped off of it.
First, you’ll hear – in numbers – how this program worked to change the lives of women all over the United States.
The Numbers: Over 50 Outside Milestones & Accomplishments
Vicki Woods Heck celebrating her Over 50 Outside adventures
As a group, the women hiked more than 22,000 miles in 46 states around the U.S. With over 3,700 total hikes completed among 150 women, that’s a lot of time spent outdoors!
With those numbers, it should come as no surprise that most women felt they advanced in their hiking abilities.
Check it out:
- Before starting the program, 23.1% identified as Beginner, 27.7% Intermediate, 33.8% Seasoned, and 15.4% Advanced
- After the challenge, 0% identified as Beginner, 12.3% identified as Intermediate, 33.8% Seasoned, and 53.8% Advanced
The most beautiful part?
Nearly every woman said she intended on continuing to hike regularly (92% percent to be exact).
As you can see, this program made a huge impact on so many women over the age of 50. But don’t just take our word for it – keep reading to hear from the women themselves.
How Has Over 50 Outside Impacted Your Life?
Meg Pelley on-trail during the Over 50 Outside hiking challenge
“Hiking brings you closer to the friends you spend time with on a trail. I’ve deepened treasured friendships over this last year. We’ve laughed, cried, prayed and solved world problems all while pushing ourselves to greater heights on a trail. It’s cheaper than therapy. Actually, it is therapy. I never feel more like myself than when I’m on a hiking trail.” – Meg Pelley
Leslie Morgan during the Over 50 Outside hiking challenge
“So much has changed because of this program. I was on a journey to say yes more to adventures like this after finishing nursing school. However, Over 50 Outside gave me so much more than I ever could have predicted. I hope I can put it accurately in words. I developed a lifetime network of friends and a sense of belonging that I haven’t had before. I have a feeling of pride and accomplishment like never before. I have had adventures that I never dreamed of before. And I am addicted to hiking now. So grateful. Thank you!” – Leslie Morgan
Lucy Hannigan-Ewing taking in the view and reflecting during an Over 50 Outside hike
“As I think about this incredible challenge coming to an end, I am grateful for all that I have learned about myself. I've never done much solo hiking before and the first time I pulled in at a trailhead on my own, I wasn't sure I wanted to get out of the car and hit the trail by myself. But I did! I discovered that I am stronger and braver than I had previously given myself credit for. I also stepped outside my comfort zone when I asked women to hike with me that I didn't know very well. I worried that they would want to hike faster than me or that I would get lost on the trail or that I'd trip on a tree root and fall flat on my face in front of them. None of those things happened and I made some new friends as a result.” – Lucy Hannigan-Ewing
Over 50 Outside hiker Melinda Mingus during the 52 Hike Challenge
“While I've always loved hiking, the Over 50 Outside program inspired me to get outside at least once per week, no matter the weather, no matter the chaos going on in my life. Fifty-two weeks later, I feel that I am better able to cope with whatever life throws at me. I've been inspired by the stories and pictures from all the other participants. And, I've inspired many of my friends and family to get outside, with nature, on a regular basis. I've learned so much from the other participants and the Over 50 Outside programs. Many thanks to Karla & Phillip for creating this awesome program. And many thanks to all the sponsors: Osprey, Oboz, Outdoor Research and others.” - Melinda Mingus
Igniting a Passion: Facing Fears Through Hiking Regularly
Michele Finnegan on top of a mountain during an Over 50 Outside hike
Some of the women said stepping on-trail helped them step outside of their comfort zones and find a deeper sense of connection with themselves and their fellow hikers along the way. With this newfound empowerment, they accomplished more than they could have ever hoped for.
"I have traveled to Arizona and hiked the Grand Canyon with 8 other women from this group. We never met in person so flying to another state to meet women and hike the Grand Canyon for the first time was something I never thought I would do. I am so glad I did. I meet the most inspirational and amazing women. Shared stories and laughs. We all went in as strangers and came out with lifelong friends. I will be forever grateful to the 52 Hike Challenge for this opportunity. I wish it didn't end. I will be hiking in September 2023 with the same 8 women, and I am so excited." – Christine Immel
"I am also now fabulously equipped so should I come across a situation or other hiker in trouble, I am pretty sure I could pull it all together and get through it. Love that sense of self-reliance!" – Shawn Drennan
Breaking Stigmas: Finding Confidence Through Hiking
Many women reported feeling more seen and connected to their over 50 community. In a world where the media prioritizes young women, this program gave women over 50 an opportunity to reclaim their voice and their power.
“This program gave me more confidence to hike in the backcountry because I feel much more educated. I solo camped for the first time with my new confidence. I plan to continue going on backpacking trips which I had not done for many years before this program” – Monica Calhoun
"By your definition I was a "seasoned" hiker at the start of the challenge; I lead hikes, birding & botanizing outings, I backpack, camp... But my relationship with my SELF grew during this challenge. I spent MUCH more time solo on the trail and in camp, and my comfort and confidence grew, as did my sense of centeredness and well-being. And, through the support and generosity of ALL the sponsors of this challenge, I feel more valued and "seen" as a capable woman in her mid-60s who HIKES!" – Lorraine Smith
"Being part of this community not only encouraged me to hike more, but it gave me a connection to other women like me. Being over 50 used to mean it was time to slow down and retire, but this group has only ignited my passion to prove that we are only getting better as we age and slowing down isn’t really a requirement! I feel stronger and more confident in myself now than ever before. I know this program helped push me to this level and for that I am forever grateful. I will continue to tell others about the program and all that I gained from this experience." – Becky Frazier
Congratulations, Ladies, You are Amazing!
Growth, strength, confidence and connection are just a few words to sum up how this hiking challenge affected the 150 women who embarked on a journey of 52 hikes. Their stories are worth celebrating. Help us congratulate these incredible finishers of the Over 50 Outside / 52 Hike Challenge program in the comments!
Are You a Woman Over 50 Who Loves the Outdoors?
You could be sponsored for the 52 Hike Challenge Program + Ultimate Package!
Are you looking to build your community of more powerful women over 50? The Over 50 Outside campaign was created just for that.
OVER 50 OUTSIDE IS A COMMUNITY BUILT FOR YOU — women over 50 who are passionate about the outdoors.
Over 50 Outside is a way to motivate, empower, and ignite your spirit so you build confidence and well-being by getting out on the trails weekly with the 52 Hike Challenge.
If this sounds like you, we encourage you to apply for a sponsored 52 Hike Challenge Program. We will partner together for a year-long commitment to hike weekly and share in our communities, both locally and virtually.
Program sponsorship includes:
- "52 Hike Challenge Ultimate Package”
- Monthly inspirational check-ins
- Gear advice and fun perks from community sponsors Oboz Footwear, Outdoor Research and Osprey
We aspire to make this one of the most impactful programs you'll be a part of. The value is hundreds of dollars, but the experience will be priceless!