I completed my final hike for the 52 Hike Challenge Adventure Series in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. It was on the Mt Britton Trail, which though just only 2 miles round trip, was challenging because of the steady uphill climb for the first half. I love Puerto Rico, I love the Caribbean and I was really excited that I got to do my final hike in one of my old stomping grounds. At 29,000 acres, El Yunque is one of the smallest forests in the National Forest System and the only tropical rainforest. Despite its size, the NFS rates this forest as one of the highest in terms of biodiversity. It is home to hundreds of plant and animal species, with some endemic ones in the mix.
My first hike for this year’s 52 Hike Challenge Adventure Series was on January 5th in Los Angeles; my 52nd was on August 14th in Puerto Rico. Training for a 60 mile walk helped me to reach 52 before year end.
The 52 Hike Challenge Adventure Series has special challenges, so my 52 hikes included:
- 5 around waterfalls
- 1 in a forest
- 1 in a National Park, Monument, Preserve, Recreation Area or Historic Trail
- 2 around bodies of water like a lake, river or ocean
- 1 for stewardship (trail maintenance, pick up trash, restoration project, etc.)
- 1 with a group that was not my usual hiking group so i could meet new people
- 1 hike where I introduced someone to hiking
- 1 at sunrise or sunset
- 1 from my bucket list
- 3 reflection hikes where I journaled (or in my case blogged) at the beginning, middle, and towards the end of the challenge
And boy were my hikes adventurous! I took thousands of photos along the way. See some of my favourites below.
I hiked in my neighbourhood …
And ‘right in my backyard’.
In other places near and far in California.
In other states and territories. On the east coast of the US and the west coast of the US.
In another country. On another continent. In the European Union.
In the Caribbean.
I walked in the path of African Americans, Native Americans and Alexander the Great.
I hiked in national parks, a national seashore and in other NPS units. I hiked in national forests. In a range of natural sites, historic sites, state parks, city and municipal parks, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
I hiked at the crack of dawn, the ass crack of dawn, at midday, at dusk, and at night.
I hiked on paved trails, rough trails and paseos.
Above ground and below ground.
I hiked through water as high as my waist going to the Bridge to Nowhere in the San Gabriel Mountains.
I did short hikes of just over a mile to longer hikes of 9, 11 and 13 miles. I once did 2 hikes in one day. I hiked before and after indoor cycling classes. I averaged a little over 4 miles per hike, approximately 210 miles for the 52 hikes.
I hiked alone, with my sister, with friends (thanks Jennetta!), and with strangers.
I hiked with my SCOBA tribe, the Sierra Club, and Outdoor Afro.
I hiked with someone 7 years old and someone 81 years young.
I hiked in 50 degree temperatures and in 90+ degree temperatures. I hiked in rain, in mist, and in desert. In dry heat and in humidity.
I hiked in running shoes and hiking boots.
I hiked in clothes I loved and some I tolerated. I hiked bare headed, hatted, capped, beanied, and scarved (bandanaed?).
I did spontaneous hikes and well planned hikes. I hiked on each of these four trails more than once.
There are many trails I want to hike again.
I hiked to see native plants, wildflowers, and wildlife. This plethora of photos is especially for my sister.
I hiked next to elk and snakes. I saw bison and deer. I saw bees, birds, and butterflies. And cottontails of course.
I hiked in bear territory and mountain lion territory but saw neither.
I saw rainbows, and falling, running, trickling, and still water.
I did day hikes and hikes while camping, kinda glamping, cabinning, and hotelling.
I hiked in sites as old as time, some protected for more than 155 years, others for less than a year.
I hiked in wilderness and heavily hiked areas.
I once hiked while my friends biked.
I drove to hike and flew in airplanes to hike. I hiked while on pleasure travel and on business travel.
I hiked in an oasis, in an agora, in an acropolis. I hiked to nowhere and to somewhere.
I hiked amongst ruins and to Olympic stadia.
I hiked at small sites of a few acres and large sites up to 768,000 acres.
I hiked sites from my bucket list and some I’d never heard of.
I bought books, plants, seeds, magnets, pins, patches, honey and more at sites where I hiked.
I got my national parks passport stamped at NPS sites and at an NFS site.
I donated to sites where I hiked.
I watched videos, historic reenactments and toured exhibits where I hiked. I listened to various docents and rangers; I sometimes laughed at their jokes; I sometimes wondered about their scripts.
I pondered on trivialities and intractable problems. I wrote copiously. I had many, many interesting conversations – in my head and with others. I expanded my knowledge. I bonded with friends. I laughed a lot. I sweated more. I ate plenty of tasty meals after hiking; I ate the worst pancakes of my life en route to Yosemite. I relished most of the moments I spent on these 52 hikes. They reminded of how much I love … nature, the natural environment, hiking, taking photos, traveling, the written word. I am recommitted. I am grateful.
52 hikes in 8 months
LAX Dunes, El Segundo – Stewardship
South Fork Trail
Baldwin Scenic Overlook – Sunset
Bailey Canyon Trail to the Old Foundation – Waterfall
Lost Palms Oasis Trail in Joshua Tree National Park
Greece: Agora and the Acropolis in Athens – Reflection
Greece: Nemea, Mycenae, Epidauros
Greece: Mystras, Ancient Olympia
Greece: Nafpaktos, Dodona, Ioannina, Metsovo
Greece: Dion Archaeological Park
Greece: Delphi and Athens walking tour
Greece: Modern Olympic Stadium in Athens
Neighbourhood walk X 4
Bridge to Nowhere – Waterfall
Wildflower Trail at Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants – Introduced Abby to hiking & native plants
Bridgeport Marketplace to & from Cycleup X 3
Mentryville in Santa Clarita Woodlands Park – Reflection
Stoney Point Park
Ed Davis Park at Towsley Canyon – Group hike
Franklin Canyon Park
Old Sacramento and American River X 2 – Bodies of water
Lagoon Valley Park, Vacaville
Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore – Bodies of Water
Central Park, Santa Clarita
William S. Hart Park
San Francisquito Creek Trail X2
San Francisquito Creek Trail to Santa Clara River Trail, Valencia X 2
Santa Clara River Trail, Canyon Country
San Francisquito Creek Trail from Iron Horse Trailhead
Rainbow Falls Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Waterfall
Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek in Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
Mammoth Cave National Park – Bucket list
Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument – National Parks, etc. – Reflection
Cycleup to Copper Hill via McBean Pkwy
San Francisquito Creek Trail & McBean Pkwy X 2
Newhall Ranch Road Path, McBean & San Francisquito Creek Trail
Wapama Falls in Yosemite National Park – Waterfall
Mist Trail to Vernal & Nevada falls, then John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park – Waterfall
Mt Britton Trail in El Yunque National Forest – Forest