2019 was filled with many new experiences for our family and it all started with one goal in mind completing the 52-hike challenge. When we had made this commitment early in the year, it seemed like we have a defined planned of completing the hikes, but the plan changed as the seasons passed. We hiked all winter (thanks to our Metro Park system for leading the way), spring brought rain, summer was hot and fall was beautiful, but school was back in session. All in all, 28 of 52 hikes were completed and that was OK with us. Along the way, we discovered new interests in our kids, finally purchased a camper that we talked about for years and really explored our home state of Ohio from top to bottom. We even added puppy to our adventures in the summer, which added another dimension to our family. While, we did not accomplish the hiking goal (this year!), we have many new memories and experiences together as a family.
Our hiking journey started January 2019 with kids in tow. Not the most ideal time to start hiking in the middle of winter, but we made the commitment and wanted to start off the year on a good path. We made sure we had all the warm weather gear we needed and were lucky to find that our Metro Park system put together a winter hike series. The hiking series consisted of 13 hikes all at different parks. This is just what we needed to kick start this journey. The hikes varied in length and at the end of each hike was hot chocolate, soup and some treats. This was a big deal to the kids and gave them the motivation to keep going!
As the winter hikes progressed, there were mornings that we struggled to get out of the house because of the cold or just didn’t feel like putting on another layer or heavy boots. We started to bring hot chocolate with us and snacks to eat along the way which helped, but also required more planning. After a few hikes in, we started to get our rhythm, and near the end, we had our routine down. Hiking during the winter brought its own challenges (like rain that turn to sleet then to snow all in the course of an hour), but also brought many rewards. Mornings that would be spent in front of cartoons, were now turned into family time outside and accomplishing another trail. We competed all 13 hikes and we all earned hiking sticks from the Metro Park.
With the end of the winter hike series, the planning was all on us and was more challenging than we thought. Some of the other areas that we wanted to explore, were more than a day trip or contained multiple trails that would require more time. For many years, we have causally looked at campers, but never made the decision to purchase. The timing this year was different. We knew we wanted to keep exploring, but also wanted a basecamp that we could come back to at the end of a hike. After searching and narrowing now the options, we ended up purchasing a small camper for our adventures.
The hikes now turned into long weekend camping trips with hikes mixed in here and there. However, the spring weather was hit and miss. The first few trips out it rained every time, and the trails were muddy. However, with the all the rain, it was a good time to see a few small waterfalls that normally would not be flowing as fast. This seemed to be more luck than planning!
Before we knew it, the kids were out of school, summer was here, and it was hot! Summer took on a whole new schedule and allowed us a little more time to plan longer trips. Again, hikes were mixed with camping trips. We tried to plan at least one hike on each trip, but sometimes that didn’t happen! We were really enjoying camping and all the other non-hiking activities that camping allowed us to do together. We also had a new puppy that we started to take with us camping and hiking. While we couldn’t leave the puppy behind, the hiking trips got shorter and more time was spent training him.
Fall came and school started, with yet another schedule change. School activities started to pick up and the camping season seemed like it ended abruptly. We ended the camping season with six trips from the bottom to the top of our home state of Ohio. Fall weather was beautiful, and we were able to fit in a few short hikes here and there.
While, we wish that we would have completed the challenge (28 out of 52 isn’t too bad!!), looking back at the year, we accomplished more than just hiking. We had many new experiences together as a family, explored new places that we normally would not have, and discovered new things about our kids. The hikes were the catalyst that got us going and it really took us on a whole new journey together. Looking forward to 2020, we do not have a defined plan as specific as the 52-hike challenge, but there will be a whole new set of hiking and camping experiences to share together.
Cheers to new adventures!