I signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge last week.

What? Another hiking challenge, Jessie?

Yes, yes indeed. After completing my first Hike It Baby 30 with Luke last month, I decided that a long-term challenge would help motivate me to continue making our hikes a priority.

52 Hike Challenge • twokidsintow.com

So, why hiking?

My love for hiking started after my first son was born. Before I became a mother, I loved trail running and kickboxing and yoga, and I made lots of time to do those things regularly. With a body forever changed by pregnancy and childbirth and a newborn who needed constant care, I quickly discovered that hiking was my ticket to physical, emotional, and mental wellness. Hiking not only served as a way to keep myself healthy and fit, but it also gave my son and I an incredible opportunity to bond. I hiked countless miles in those early months with him nestled warmly on my chest.

When Luke was a year and a half old, my husband had to leave us to work overseas for a year. It was in that year that I began to think of hiking and the time I spent outside as essential to my wellbeing. When I felt stressed or overwhelmed, I knew I could always find peace and relief by simply heading outside with my son. We hiked all over Washington in that year and made lots of fun memories on the trails together.

Today, my family is back together under one roof and living in a new state. I am expecting my second son and trying my best to prepare for the challenges that wait just around the corner. It’s easy to get sidetracked these days, with the demands of work, home, and family ever tugging me in different directions. Hiking is still my solace, my happy place, and it’s what I turn to when I need a break from the grind at home or a reset after a tough day. My sons are always along for the ride, one on my back, the other in my belly.

52 Hike Challenge • twokidsintow.com

I have high hopes for my 52 Hike Challenge. In addition to taking care of myself and fulfilling my need for regular exercise and exploration, I know I will continue to deeply connect with both of my sons as we learn and grow together in the great outdoors.