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When Phillip and Karla were on a trip together, Karla decided she was going to make it her New Year’s resolution to go hiking more often. Philip was already an avid hiker and had lost 80 pounds through hiking, but Karla was not much of a hiker. She made an audacious goal to go hiking once a week throughout the year.
The 52 Hike Challenge, which encourages people to get out and go hiking once a week for 52 weeks, was launched in December of 2014 and has been growing ever since then, with over 30,000 people signing up since it began. There are tons of others who participate in the challenge but have not officially signed up. “We had no idea that we would have thousands of followers, tens of thousands of followers, and people that want to do it. So it’s been pretty awesome for us,” Phillip said. “It’s just been really a blessing for us to see so many people take on the challenge and change their lives, too.”
“There was a family this last year that ended up completing 100 hikes, and they have two little girls who started up a hiking club for kids,” Karla shared. “It was just so cool to see girls really embrace the 52 Hike Challenge and just go above and beyond. And they’re so cute.”
She also shared another inspiring story of a woman named Lesley Glenn who has metastatic breast cancer. Lesley used this challenge as a way to Climb Mount Whitney and help her get through her cancer life sentence. “Instead of going into this negative state of, ‘I have cancer. I’m going to die one day,’ but more like she has so many breaths and days left, why not enjoy them?” Phillip said. “And it’s really helped her in that shift of perspective, and she has been an amazing person. She’s been just a really good role model.” Learn more about Lesley's cancer journey and follow her hiking adventures on her blog.
People from all over the world are participating in this great global movement, including people throughout the United States. Internationally, there are participants in Venezuela, Europe, Australia, and South Africa, just to name a few.
Additionally, there is a whole community doing the challenge in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the northeastern part of Canada. "They go out and go snowshoeing,” Phillip shared. “The entire municipality is doing the challenge. They’re getting people outdoors. They’re in control of the parks up there so they’re taking a huge initiative. They’re providing snowshoes for people to get out and go hiking. It’s been awesome to see so many people get mobilized and get out.”
Go to 52hikechallenge.com, sign up for the challenge, and you can connect with groups in your community by looking at the “resources” page. You can also connect with others by following the new hashtag this year: #52hikechallenge2018. That simple hashtag creates a lot of awareness, inspiring people to get outdoors and go hiking.
When Karla first began hiking, she was using her Instagram account as a way of keeping track of her hikes, using #hike1, #hike2, etc. This helped her and got a lot more people inspired to get out and go hiking, too. This would be a great way to track your hikes and motivate yourself to keep going and not give up.
It is free to get involved with the challenge, but be sure to put in an email address before you get a password. This allows you to stay connected and receive their newsletters, as well as other information. Signing up is free, but there are also package deals available to be purchased, which include finisher medals, stickers, patches, and t-shirts.
To get started, go to 52hikechallenge.com, decide on your package, and sign up. Make sure you read the guide to the challenge and check out the FAQ page. Additionally, there is a ton of helpful information on the resources page. Everything will be laid out right there for you.
Karla shares her insight for first-timers: “I think the important thing is to have the 10 essentials and then to just take the first step to get out on a local trail whether they have some friends. We have a lot of resources, but it’s just taking the first step. That’s the important thing.”
“I think that having the accountability is really important. And it’s probably the most daring step to take,” Phillip added. “But to announce that you’re going to take this challenge and to announce it on social media where you tell your friends and family, then what happens is those family members say, ‘Oh I see that you’re committed to hiking once a week. I’d like to go hiking with you this weekend.’ And we’ve actually had a lot of people who have finished the challenge because they announced it on social media. And then their friends held them accountable and said, ‘Hey, I want to go hiking with you!’ They were thinking about chickening out, but their friends and family helped them complete the challenge.”
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