Why Participate In A Hiking Challenge
They say the best exercise you can get is the one that you stick with, and for me it is hiking. There are plenty of people who love the gym, and if that is what is right for you, do it! Everyone needs physical activity to stay healthy. For me though, I get no enjoyment or motivation by being on a treadmill in a gym on a literal road to nowhere- and looking at the back of someone’s head on the row in front of me, who is also on that same road that will take us nowhere. I like for my paths to take me somewhere beautiful. I don’t always know where, or what I will see on the way, but that’s kind of the exciting part about it! By being out in nature, on a path that could be taking me to see beautiful flora and fauna, allowing me to feel the breeze of a fall morning, and hear the sweet sounds of the birds in the distance, I get rejuvenated and motivated. Nature also tends to bring me a feeling of peacefulness and inspiration. I feel so much excitement that I don’t even feel like I am working out. How could I be? This is actually fun! Whatever your form of exercise though, it is important that you stay motivated and keep pushing yourself. That is one thing I like about a challenge. It pushes me to do more. While I do go hiking when I can anyway, a challenge keeps me focused on an end goal, and completion of that goal offers a sense of accomplishment. That feeling of “I DID IT!” is a pretty cool feeling!
Aside from motivation to stay focused on hiking regularly and stay physically active, another thing I like about the hiking challenge is that it forces you to get out and see new things. Sometimes I get stuck just going to my favorite trail, but there is a joy that can’t be explained the first time you see something new-maybe it’s that cascading waterfall, or that amazing view from the top of a firetower. Let’s face it though-we all have so much going on in our lives that sometimes we take for granted what is right there in front of us. We don’t know the treasures that await us, until something pushes us to get out and explore. Sometimes those explorations show us things that we are in awe and wonder of, and sometimes they give us transformational experiences that change us as a person. There is definite value in getting out of the day to day hustle and bustle routine, and seeing new things.
So yes, this fall I am participating in two hiking challenges-at the same time. Am I crazy? Debatable. But is it possible? Yes! I have found a strategic way to do it, and wanted to share it with you. First, let me tell you about each challenge I am personally participating in.
Dates: This started on September 22, 2021 (the first day of Fall) and is an ongoing program-you can take as long as you want to complete it
The hiking trails and the challenge: There are 10 trails included in this challenge. The journey of this challenge will take you to a state park, a national park, through beautiful forests with well groomed trails, to a historic firetower, to amazing bluffs with some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see, and up, down, and around scenic cliffs. There are 5 trails that are trails created by the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association, trails at Wind Creek State Park and Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, a trek through Russell Forest, a hike through an Alabama Power Nature Preserve, and a walk through the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex.
What I think is cool about it: One of the most awesome things about this challenge is that the majority of the trails are a part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. That means you have a really good shot at meeting some new feathered friends on your journey. You don’t even have to complete the entire trail. Many of the trails offer different options within the trail, and one for instance gives you different options for everything from a one mile hike to a seven mile hike. By just completing even a portion of each trail, you get to count it on your hiking log. It’s a great way to get out and see new things and stay within your own physical abilities, as some of the trails do have some challenging parts to them. While it is great to challenge yourself, just please be aware of your own physical abilities and comfort levels.
Logging your hikes: There is a log set up here where you just add in the date that you explore each of the trails. If you can’t download it, you can have one mailed to you. Once your hiking log is complete, you either email it or mail it to Lake Martin Tourism Association.
Your reward: As if discovering some cool new natural places wasn’t enough, there is indeed a little something extra you get at the end. Once you send in your hiking log, you will be mailed a custom patch and certificate.
How to brag about it on social media: #LakeMartinHikingChallenge #LakeMartinAlabama #LakeMartinTourism
Where to get more info: ExploreLakeMartin.com/Hiking
Cost: $19.95 or $29.95 (one package includes a cool T shirt)
Dates: October 1, 2021-November 30, 2021
The hiking trails and the challenge: This challenge lets you hike any trails you want to hike! There are no limitations and you can hike anywhere you like around the world! The goal is to hike 50 miles in a period of 2 months. However, the hike has to be on an actual trail (not a street or a sidewalk unless it just connects part of the trail), and each hike has to be at least 2 miles long. That part is nice because it does help you stay focused on the endurance of doing at least 2 miles. Since this one is mileage based, I downloaded a free phone app to keep up with how many miles I hike on each trek.
What I think is cool about it: Well this one does come with a T shirt I liked, so I can literally say, “Been There, Done That, Got the T Shirt!” With this one having no limitations of where you can do it geographically, you can do it with a friend who is out of town, and complete the challenge together, but separately. You can also include hikes when you go out of town and really diversify the trails that you explore. They also make a donation to plant a tree once you complete your challenge, so that is awesome too. It’s just a little extra motivation. If you finish the challenge, you get to make the world a better place. Just remember that when you are on mile 48 and trying to push through!
Logging your hikes: There is a log sheet that you can download here, and you are asked to email it in once you have completed the challenge.
Your reward: Depending on the package you choose, you could get things like a patch (while supplies last), a T shirt, and stickers.
How to brag about it on social media: #Fall50Challenge #MyAdventureChallenge #AlabamaOutdoorAdventurer
Where to get more info: https://myadventurechallenge.com/pages/fall-50-challenge
How to be strategic and complete both hiking challenges at the same time
So it may seem like a lot to complete both challenges at one time. However, by doing both simultaneously, I am actually doing some hikes that I can count toward both. Am I double dipping-I sure am. But-I am still following the rules of each. Each time I complete one of the trails on the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge, I make note of how many miles I hiked on that trail, and for the ones I have hiked after October 1, I am adding those hikes and miles to my log sheet for the Fall 50 Challenge. So yes, I am getting credit for both in some instances.
The trails that I hiked prior to October 1 or after November 30 will only count toward my Lake Martin Hiking Challenge. I did start that one on the first day it started because I got so excited and just couldn’t wait. I knocked out a couple before the beginning of October, but those that I am doing now, I am counting toward the Fall 50 Challenge.
Since October 1st, I have also taken the opportunity to hike a couple of trails out of town, and for those that are not the specific trails that are a part of the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge, I only count the miles toward my Fall 50 Challenge.
So, as you can see, the two log sheets aren’t total duplicates, but there is some overlap, and by being strategic, I am confident that I will be finishing both challenges by the end of November. What I do know is that by that time I will have been to a minimum of 10 awesome places, and hiked at least 50 miles. When you break it down over a couple of months, that is not that difficult. Keep in mind too, that while the Fall 50 Challenge ends at the end of November, if you don’t finish the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge by that time, that is totally ok. That is on ongoing program, and you can make multiple trips to the area to complete that one on your own schedule.
Now you know my secret of how I am completing two hiking challenges at one time. And you may ask why? The physical activity, the beautiful fall weather, and the opportunity to discover and explore new areas is something that excites me. Having that goal-or in this case-goals-to work toward, is something that is motivating and inspiring to me also. I like to be able to have that achievement. The patches are nice, but that feeling of completion and the experience itself means even more. Hoping that I will see you out on the trails too!