In January of this year, I embarked on the journey to 100 challenge. It’s a cool movement that challenges women to get out and go on 100 hikes. It doesn’t have to be done in a certain amount of time or anything like that. You set the time you want to finish the 100 by, and you set how long each hike is. This girl loves a good challenge, especially when it comes to hiking, so I chose to do it.
So, how does this play into hiking an entire state park? Well, here’s a little background: In 2017, I came across a beautiful state park. It consists of 21 trails that equal around 50+ miles, 2 lakes, and is 7,000 acres. As I began to hike more often, this is the place I would do it at. However, I would do the same handful of trails over and over again. Obviously, over time, the same trails all the time can become a little boring. When I came across the hike to 100 challenge, I thought, “why not also challenge myself to finish the whole state park?”. So, I did.
Before I began the challenge, I wrote all of the trail names and their length down in a book. This helped me to keep track of what trails I had already done, as well as plan ahead for what ones would be easiest to finish based off of their distance. While doing this, I went ahead and marked off the ones I had already done. By this time, I think I had finished about 5 or 6 out of all 21.
Even though I had already finished a few, it took a good bit of time to do them all. A couple of them were over 10-mile hikes. Unlike most, I’m more of a short distance hiker, so I had to prepare for those long ones. In the meantime, I was hitting up and checking off the shorter trails. However, even the 5-mile hikes took a couple of hours, so on a lot of the visits to the park, I would just have to go on trails that I had already crossed off the list for the sake of time. Throughout the week, I would hike trails I had already finished, unless I was intentionally going to mark off another one, since new trails meant there could be uncertainty about how long it would take, and no one wants to get stuck in the dark. If I was planning to check off another trail, I would have to plan ahead, so that I could give myself enough time to finish before dark.
I wish I could say this challenge was easy and without problems, however, that’s not the case. There was one trail in specific that I kept failing to finish. I tried 4 times to complete it, and each time something happened to where I would have to turn around and go back to the car early. The first time I tried, I got lost and ended up hiking 7 miles on a trail that was supposed to be 4! A few of the trails had upper and lower sections, as well. For those, I would have to do one half one day, and the other half another day, which added more time when it came to checking them off the list. Despite a lot of struggles, rainy hikes, cold hikes, muddy hikes, and hot hikes, I was marking off trails one at a time, or sometimes even two at a time! I began to know this state park like the back of my hand. If you were to ask me where a trail was, I would be able to tell you exactly where it was, and I still can. Ultimately, it took about 6 months to knock off the majority of the hikes.
Finally, at the beginning of June 2019, I was on my very last trail to mark off. The only problem was that it was listed as being 12.6 miles long. Like I’ve already mentioned, I’m not one for long distance hiking. However, on June 11, I took the leap and went for it. It was anything but easy. My body was aching before even reaching 4 miles. I literally wanted to cry. But, after lots of breaks and adding an extra mile from getting lost, I finished it at 13.6 miles – just in time for my birthday the next day!
Now, I just completed an entire state park over the last two years (but mainly 6 months). What did I do to celebrate this and my 18th birthday?! Well, I got a tattoo, of course! This state park is my most favorite place ever. It’s where I go in times of sadness, anxiety, and happiness. I’ve grown immensely amongst the trees and on the trails in this park. It’s where my love for hiking really took off. I’m so glad that I can forever have this place tattooed on my body, knowing that I gave my all to hike every square inch there. It’s so cool to know that I have been on all 21 trails, most more than once!
If you would like to see what my journey to completing this challenge was like, check out my Instagram where I documented it!