I finished up my very first 52 Hike Challenge early last week. I’ve had a few days and a long, relaxing weekend to let it sink in and really think about what I’ve learned out on the trail in those 33 weeks.
Hike 8: Mount Cutler Trail

The biggest takeaway from this challenge can be summed up in two short words: “Don’t wait.”

I have to admit that when I first learned about the 52 Hike Challenge, I immediately thought, “I can’t do that right now.” At the time, I was about halfway through my second pregnancy and although I had moved past being sick all the time, I was still pretty tired a great deal of the time and plagued by sciatic pain that was made infinitely worse by stress. I had a toddler with limitless energy who needed to be either carried or chased down the trail, and the very thought of doing that carrying and chasing him on 52 hikes initially made me want to crawl right back into bed.

The morning of October 9, 2015 was a rough one. Luke and I had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that day and I simply had to get out of the house. I loaded us up in the car with water and some snacks and drove east, headed for a park I’d seen photos of on Instagram earlier in the week. Merle Haggard on the radio, I laughed until I cried as I drove, feeling frustrated and stuck. When we finally made it to the trailhead, I felt a little bit better.

As we wandered the trails of Paint Mines Interpretive Park, I realized that I needed this challenge and I needed it now, no matter how slow the pace and short the hikes. I needed to figure out how to comfortably hike while pregnant and how to encourage a delightfully stubborn and independent toddler down the trail. I needed a challenge that would help me feel like I was doing more than simply treading water in this intense stage of parenthood.

Hike 1: Calhan Paint Mines Trail
Hike 1: Calhan Paint Mines Trail

I snapped a photo of Luke as he looked down at the hoodoos below us and decided not to wait anymore. I decided not to wait for my second child to be born or for Luke to be a little less dependent on me to explore some of the beautiful trails near our home. I decided not wait for a more convenient time to invest in myself and nurture my love of hiking and photography. I decided not to wait to find a fantastic group of outdoor loving friends to share the journey with.

I signed up for my 52 Hike Challenge later that evening, energized and excited from my hike with Luke at the Paint Mines. I had no way of knowing it then, but that was the beginning of a wonderful adventure I know I’ll continue to reflect on for many, many years to come.

52 Hike Challenge Stats

Number of Hikes

Total Distance (miles)

Total Time (hours: minutes)

Total Elevation Gain (feet)

Top 5 Favorite Hikes

Contemplative, Roundup, and Red Rock Canyon Trails Loop in Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Contemplative, Roundup, and Red Rock Canyon Trails Loop

Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Blackmer Loop Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Blackmer Loop Trail

Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Mueller State Park Loop in Mueller State Park

Mueller State Park Loop

Mueller State Park
Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park
Hogback Nature Trail in Lathrop State Park

Hogback Nature Trail

Lathrop State Park

Onto the next challenge: The Adventure Series!