Finisher Highlights - November 2020

Maridy Carpenter
Being out on the trail is a time when I can just unplug from the stresses of life and enjoy the beauty around me. When I can push my body and let my mind relax. Hiking is my therapy. I always come away from it feeling better mentally than when I started. Happy that I did something that was good for me, both physically and mentally. But until I signed up for the Challenge, I was a fair weather hiker. I had no motivation or desire to get out normal hiking on the trails when the temperature dropped and the trails were covered in a few inches of snow or mud and muck. The Challenge changed all that. It "forced" me to set aside my pre-conceived notions of what was or was not going to be a good time. Because of the Challenge, I explored trails I never would have before, and took hikes in weather I never would have. And I loved every minute of it! (Well, ok, there were maybe a few minutes on the TRT that I was miserable, but that's just part of thru hiking 😆).
The 52 Hike Challenge gave me a reason to be out there hiking. A goal to accomplish. A reason to make hiking a priority, even after my thru hike training was over and my mini thru hike was complete, and even as we are busy building our house. I learned that any time on the trail is worthwhile. I look forward to starting a new round of the Challenge in 2021 and seeing just how far these legs can continue to take me!

Ann Huffman
The challenge motivated us to keep hiking despite the weather, time of year, and pandemic. The pictures from other members of the Facebook group got us excited about adding new trails to our future hiking list. Keeping a log of the distance, time and elevation of each hike helped us see what our limits were and how we were improving over time. Looking at the log helped us plan hikes by comparing the length and elevation of a similar hike. Our thought process was 'Well, if we were able to do that hike without much difficulty before, then this hike should not be a problem.'

Susan Boctor
I have done [the Challenge] the past three years, but this year was especially poignant. It gave me and my family some sense of normalcy, deeper purpose, and grounding. I am grateful.

Melissa Cawthorn
For me, the 52 Hike Challenge started as a reason to stay motivated to be more active. Over time, it became a wonderful way to spend time either reflecting or working on mindfulness. I also became really good friends with another lady, and for that, I’ll be forever thankful for what 52 hikes has given me.

April Boles
I haven't hiked in years and started hiking again toward the end of summer, 2020. Joining the original 52 Hike Challenge motivated me to hike as often as possible; I have no doubt that I would not have hiked as often without this challenge. It fed my hiking addiction in the best way, and I am looking forward to continuing both hiking and joining the other 52 Hike Challenges! The hiking has not only made me more physical fit, but has been so beneficial for my mental health as well, serving as an outlet for pent up frustrations!

Glee Mayer
“When I retired from teaching and coaching, I felt like I lost my identity. I needed a new direction and I needed some structure to it. Taking on the 52 HIKE CHALLENGE in 2019, and again in 2020, is just what I needed. I have completed hikes like going to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and Angels Landing in Zion, along with some through hiking . The variety in the yearly challenges has kept me busy planning, organizing ad traveling to my hikes. I have met so many new people and I have joined some hiking groups, both women only and coed. I have reached out to others and encouraged them to start hiking and its just been a fulfilling experience to see others challenge themselves and develop their own passion for hiking. I am looking forward to the Explorer Series in 2021. I am excited to find 52 NEW TRAILS to hike on.”

Lauren Hronek
Before giving birth to my son, I was an avid mountain biker. I hated hiking. This year I gained a huge love and appreciation for hiking, as it allowed me to get out and with my baby. I was most shocked to find all the places and destinations hiking can take you. I was constantly struck speechless with the beauty of a peak, or the sound of a waterfall, or the silence of hiking threw the forest or seeing a high alpine lake in solitude. I felt much more connected with nature and with myself in those moments. I loved participating in the 52 new trails challenge. I got to see so much of the state I live. There is so much more to exploring outside than just mountain biking. Hiking is much more inclusive, I found myself enjoying the outdoors with many more friends and family!

Kristen Rafajko
Hiking has helped me stay physically fit, especially during the pandemic and not having access to the gym most the time, but more importantly it helped me stay mentally and spiritually fit. As someone who has battled severe depression and anxiety, having to isolate alone and start working from home was a big worry for me. Being around people is what got me out of depression and out of my house and I was worried I would get back into pulls patterns and beliefs. But I would set on a hike everyday after work and I realized that I didn’t have to be stuck in my home or in my thinking. I could still live and adventure and experience life during the pandemic- and I can do it alone! I grew to love my adventurous spirit and my love for nature- more importantly, I grew to love myself- one step at a time.

Mike Haigh
It got me back into hiking and loving it. Along the way it helped me de-stress and work my way positively through 2020 which, let’s face it, was a hard year for everyone.

Amber Schall
I completed the Pet Series along side my late husbands Great Pyrenees, Georgia. We bonded over the process. I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else. We healed a lot of hurts in our time together on the trails. I'm so glad that when I look back over this period of my life that not all of it will be so sad. This part was actually a triumph. Hiking to heal is not just a phrase.

Jen Olsen
"I have always loved hiking, but often times didn't go because I worried about going alone. Due to the global pandemic my plans for travel were cancelled so I decided to really explore my state. With the travel, hiking, and motivation of finishing the challenge I have been able to see some of the most beautiful sites, push my own boundaries and do more than I ever thought I was possible of. I found solace and shared some experiences my family. This has been one of the best things I have ever done!"

Simeon Miller
"The 52 Hike Challenge has changed my life for the better because it took me from 'What can I do?' to 'What do I want to do?' It has boosted my confidence beyond the trail. I now live my normal life as 'What do I want to do?' Thank you for helping foster an inspiring challenge."

Carole Brown

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