I finished my 52 Hike Challenge on New Year’s Day, 2017—what a way to start the year. Even though it was technically the first day of 2017, it was, in fact, the last day of the 52nd week of 2016.
I ironed out my 52nd hike on top of Flatiron, a protruding, iron-shaped rock formation in the Superstition Wilderness, with nothing but a cloudy, foggy, abyss below me. It rained the vast majority of the way up and started sleeting at the top.
Throughout the challenge, the words of Joe Dirt kept me going, “You can’t have no in your heart”!
Not only did I complete the challenge itself, but I also completed the 2016 Adventure Series, which consisted of the Original 52 hikes with specific objectives along the way. I am proud to say that for the challenge alone, I never hiked the same trail twice. I made it my personal goal to hike 52 different trails throughout the duration of a year.
A year ago, I made a commitment in an uncertain time in my life; a commitment to myself doing something I loved and fell even deeper in love with along the way. It was during hike 15 that I looked out at the mountains and had a moment of, “Wow, I live here.” Before I had truly explored Arizona, I was never able to say what I can wholeheartedly say now: I love Arizona. I now feel at peace knowing that no matter where life takes me, Arizona and I are on good terms because we are now so connected through our experiences.
All in all, I redefined my meaning of “home." I love the mountains, the desert, where the two meet and the fact that my fingers can go completely numb on top of a rock 40 minutes outside Phoenix. I changed my life one step at a time last year and I can’t wait to see where my legs and tenacity continue to take me this year. I can proudly say I am a 52 Hike Challenge Finisher. I hiked approximately 184.55 miles and spent approximately 102 hours throwing down those 184.55 miles last year. When I look at the mileage number, I am not impressed, as it seemed to me like I accomplished more than that. However, I tallied up all my elevation gain and I gained approximately 41,548 ft in elevation.
41, 548 ft is taller than Mount Everest is high and the ocean is deep. I’ll take it!