Whit’s End: 52 hikes in 52 weeks? Bring it on | PostIndependent.com

Whit’s End: 52 hikes in 52 weeks? Bring it on

Carla Jean Whitley
It doesn't matter how many times I visit Delicate Arch. I'll probably always want a cheesy group picture.

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Learn more at 52hikechallenge.com.

As we arrived at the expanse of red rock that serves as a viewing point for Delicate Arch, I spotted a woman who completed the hike on her own. I asked her to take our group’s picture beneath the arch, and we offered to do the same for her.

That’s an ordinary exchange at Arches National Park. So, too, is the arch as some accomplishment. Because of its stunning view and relatively easy access, Delicate is often surrounded by people from the world over.

This was, indeed, a special hike for our volunteer photographer. She hadn’t traveled much farther than we had — from the Front Range — but this hike marked a victory. It was her 52nd hike in a year.

She told us about the 52 hike challenge, a do-it-yourself movement that immediately piqued my interest. It’s as easy as it sounds: Hike once a week for a year. Of course, it’s also as difficult as you allow it to become.

I signed up when we returned home and began my year of hiking seven days into 2018.

There are several things I hope to gain from the experience. Hiking helps me keep things in perspective; the minutiae of my days doesn’t seem so overwhelming in the wilderness. It’s also an easy way to instate discipline. I work hard and often, but I also enjoy sitting on my couch. A lot. Besides that, I welcome the physical benefits, of course, and it seems a great way to explore new trails.

I invited a friend on my first hike, partly for company but also accountability. We failed to find the trailhead for our intended outing. Were I on my own, would I have given up and headed back to my sofa? Fortunately, I can’t know. We headed to Mushroom Rock instead, and along the way I enjoyed one of the most beautiful back-roads drives I’ve ever experienced.

I hope the next year is full of such surprises and beauty. With so much striking terrain to explore, how could it not be?

Carla Jean Whitley loves hiking, once she convinces herself to put down the book and get off the couch. Send her hiking trail recommendations at cj@postindependent.com.

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