Yesterday was hike 1/52 for me, the start of my 52 hike challenge. This isn’t the first year I’ve actually completed this challenge, but it has been several years. Back when I completed it the first time, I was brand new to hiking. Boise was my brand new hometown, and I had joined a hiking group that planned weekly hikes. I didn’t have to worry about where to hike or how the trail conditions would be. I simply showed up and followed someone else’s lead.
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Four years later, life has thrown its share of ups and downs, and I don’t get out as much as I did back then. My goal this year is to make hiking a priority, one week at a time. This time, I’ve learned that hiking with big groups is not really my thing. I prefer to hike with just a few others. Stopping to enjoy the views, catch my breath, and take pictures is part of what I like about the journey.
I don’t care about reaching a summit. It doesn’t matter to me if I even reach the end of the trail or finish the loop. What is important is that I push myself, clear my mind, and relish in the positive mindset and stress relief that the trail provides. It is important that I improve my health, physically and emotionally. I have a hunch that this hiking challenge will help me accomplish those goals.
Hike 1/52 Charcoal Gulch, Idaho City
Today I traveled with two friends from Boise up into Idaho City. Our actual hiking goal was Whoop ‘Em Up Trail, about an hour past Idaho City. We made the drive, but as the snow kept coming down, we decided to stay with the safe route and turn back to Idaho City. Charcoal Gulch is a 5.1 moderate hiking trail just inside the city. It was moderately crowded, but plenty of parking, and bathroom facilities onsite. The snow was falling steadily, and temperatures were in the low 30’s.
This first hike of the year was made more challenging by the fact that we were actually snowshoeing this trail. We strapped on our snowshoes, layered up our clothes, and headed for the trail. I have only snowshoed twice before: once each prior year. So, I didn’t expect to complete this whole trail, especially as it inclined almost 1,000 feet before turning around.
The trail started flat, and pleasant, and the swishing of the snowshoes and poles was steady and methodical. The snow fell gently around us, adding a fresh layer of snow on top of the layers that had previously fallen. The area was pretty, pine trees rising around us as the trail began rising up and down gently on a well trodden pathway. The snow was fairly compacted, as the trail was popular.
It became apparent very quickly as the ascent began, that I would need to hike slowly and focus on controlled, even breaths. I was no stranger to asthma and respiratory issues. From experience, I knew that early inclines caused my issues. I needed to start slowly, and my friends knew this and let me take the lead. Guilt still overwhelmed me. It was normal for me to worry that I was slowing others down, which is why I stopped hiking with large groups.
The snow began to fall more steadily, and as time went on, the weight of the snow and the snowshoes made it more and more difficult with each step. We stopped often to enjoy the views, adjust our snowshoes, and even take some pictures. As the weight of my snowshoes grew heavier with each step forward, it was apparent that it was time to turn around. My companions agreed that they too were feeling the weight and moisture, and we turned back for the descent.
In the end, we hiked about 4 miles, in the snow, up an incline, in snowshoes, which I rarely wore. It was not an easy hike to begin the challenge. But I was satisfied with accomplishing this first hike.