Hi there. Yes, you, the one who keeps wondering when your next hike will be and where. It’s already the second month of a not-so-new year and it’s about time you finally tick off one of those hiking bucket lists before you start getting serious FOMO feels as you scroll through photos of nature scenes for the nth time.

It’s not hard to make your enjoyment of the outdoors a consistent reality. In fact, this week’s piece is all about one of the ways you can get yourself out there on the trails as much as you think you should. The question now is: Are you ready to rise up to the challenge?

Let’s be more specific: Can you start and finish a hiking challenge this year?

It’s not too late to begin. If you’re a stickler for timeframes, you can always include the first two months of next year as the tai-lend of this year-long hike challenge. That’s the beauty of such an endeavour – the finer details are all up to you. The main goal is to set up hiking dates throughout the year and go through all of them without fail.

The Whys

Before you chalk up your hiking strategy and timeframes, you must make it clear to yourself why you’re doing this challenge. Although you shouldn’t be wondering why a hiking challenge makes sense if you’re a nature lover and/or a mountaineer at heart, it’s very helpful for your perseverance to clarify your specific motivations for doing so. After all, no one goes on a hiking challenge with the same purpose. In fact, there are many reasons to do such a thing – fitness, photography skill enhancement, stress relief, meeting kindred spirits, seeing new places, maintaining a zest for life and living, becoming a better person, preparation for a major hike, and others.

That being said, make it clear to yourself why you’re challenging yourself to hike consistently this year by putting 1-3 intentions or objectives in writing and post it where you are sure to see it first thing every single day. You can put it on the refrigerator door or on your dresser mirror, for example. Or you can tack it on your bedroom door or pantry cabinet (the latter is especially when you’re doing the hike challenge for fitness reasons **wink wink**).

Revisit your objectives everyday so you keep your passion for outdoor adventures up and crackling, even through the coldest weather. Doing so will also help you anticipate your next trek with more determination, which will lessen the risk of you bailing out of the activity for some reason or another.

Frequency

faulhorn-and-mannlichen
Photo taken at Faulhorn and Mannlichen

You be the judge of how often you should hike this year. It’s important that you truly own the challenge, and part of that is calling the shots even on how many times you’ll be out on a trail.

You can make it a weekly engagement or a monthly thing. You can choose to hike every two weeks. You can even opt to try doing it every day for one month and declare 2017 a done deal. You can also proceed with a monthly hike for the rest of the year after doing it daily for a month. Or if you’re so inclined, you can continue doing it every day until the year ends. Shocked? You shouldn’t be – you can always hike at the nearby woods or hill, after all. More on this in the next paragraph.

Places

After figuring out your commitment on the frequency of your hikes, plot out the venues of such outings. If there are trails near your area, you’re in luck. It also means you’re expected to hike more frequently than once a month. But then again, you call the shots, right? Just making a suggestion back there (wink wink).

If you do have trails or hike paths near you, use those to practice for the more significant treks, which you should spread out at about even intervals throughout the year to keep your excitement up. It’s hard to stay on a hike challenge if you keep going to the same places and seeing the same vistas. You have to spice up your itinerary so you’ll end the year making that utterly satisfied smile rivaling that of the Cheshire cat.

You can research for the best places to hike at certain times of the year. Some trails, like those in the Swiss Alps, are seasonal, so take note of the best times to go there. You can also do it with a group or have a pal or two tag along to boost the fun factor. You can always check out group hike options for that purpose. This way, you’ll be sure to always have companions on your treks.

Declaration

zermatt
Photo taken at Zermatt

After you’ve laid out your whys and plotted out your hiking schedule, it’s time to make this known to your friends and family – people you trust and will help you stay committed to your hike goals. You can even share your challenge with us! Who knows, you might unwittingly entice other people to do a similar thing, and then the whole endeavour becomes easier! If others do seriously express their interest in doing a similar challenge, you can consider starting a small group and share the same schedule. It’s harder to mess up your challenge when there’s accountability thrown in the mix, don’t you think?

Last Things

If you’re still starting out, begin with easy, less frequent hikes. You also need to build stamina and strength by doing certain exercises before you go on challenging hikes to ensure you truly enjoy the whole thing and not constantly think about discomfort. That being said, always pick routes that are appropriate to your current hiking skill. Most importantly, get yourself checked and see a physician beforehand so that you won’t run into complications further along your journey.

We’d love to know about your own hike challenge experience. Share your enthusiasm and talk to us about it!

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