Here we are, New Year’s Eve 2017! The year is coming to a close and I have completed 68 hikes! Can you believe it? I know I am still processing it, and probably will be for a while.
If you are just joining me, in December 2016 I set a lofty goal for myself. I wanted to hike 52 hikes in 2017. Inspired by the 52 Hike Challenge, I didn’t know what 52 hikes I would complete or how I was going to do it. When I started, I wasn’t sure if I would even complete the personal challenge. I was going to just start with hike #1 and see where the year took me. But, here I am to tell you that over the last 365 days I have hiked 52 different trails, summited 20 different mountains, admired numerous waterfalls, and hiked with 89 different people! I hiked in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Minnesota and Aruba. I hiked 18 solo hikes where I was able to reflect on everything from why I hike to my own happiness. I hiked with family, friends, strangers, children, folks nearly three times my age! I hiked to heal myself, find myself, and love myself. I hiked to explore what nature has to offer. I hiked to hike!
This past year not only changed my way of life, but changed my entire perspective on life. I was able to take some people on their very first hike, get others to mountains they had yet to explore and conquer a mountain I was quite afraid of. I laughed with humming birds, quickly admired a bear cub, shared the forest with many squirrels, dodged one beehive and saw many moose prints. I learned the names of several plants and noticed the wildflowers change throughout all four seasons. I learned a rabbit print in the snow looks a lot like a moose print, yet not as deep. I saw nature from an entirely new perspective. I slowed down and used all my senses to admire all there is in the woods.
Now, let’s back up a little. You may be wondering, why did I want to do this in the first place? When we first moved to Maine, Jeff and I were stoked to live a rural lifestyle, yet we were quickly distracted by our new jobs. I barely hiked in 2015 at all. In 2016, I hiked a few times, but not enough. I started a hiking group, Northwoods Wellness Collective. My goal here was to hike with folks, friends and strangers and ultimately erase my fears of hiking alone. I wanted to not only hike for my own health and wellbeing, but also for my new community. I wanted to hike to tell our guests about all the local gems! I wanted to become a local! If you haven’t caught on, I wanted a lot. I knew I could get it from one simple thing, hiking!
Over the past year, I have met so many locals! They have started to join me, share my adventures and let the whole community know about not only the hiking group I started but the lifestyle I have chosen to live. They have inspired me to hike year-round! We had twelve people show up for our first hike after the winter began. I couldn’t believe it!
Many have started to ask me, what now? What is next? I have decided that in 2018, I would like to explore the state of Maine that I have just started to call home. I moved here in 2015, yet still called Massachusetts home. The mountains, trails, lakes, and streams have welcomed me over the past year and I can finally say I feel at home in the huge state of Maine. However, this state is massive and I have been primarily focused on mountaintops and trails, even more specifically on Moosehead Lake. I will still be hiking, yet I also hope to do some fun “Maine” adventures such as kayaking in Casco Bay, riding on a dog sled, whitewater rafting down the Kennebec River and so much more! Share your ideas of the best Maine Adventures with me! I would also love it if you joined me!
To see ALL of my photos from my hikes, visit my photo album HERE. There are over 1000 photos, so make sure you have some time!
To see exactly where I hiked, check out this map!