52:Later225.31 miles 479,333 steps 34,315+ elev Look at that fat bastard (photo love from Chris Van Loan). Motivation for a change came from that photo, taken in mid-December of 2015. Denial is a place I rarely visit, but it was in full force then. I’d been quietly ignoring the inches gradually being added to my jean size for a couple years. In my twenties and early thirties I wore a 32 comfortably, by December 2015 I was barely squeezing into a size 35. Change came in the form of the 52 Hike Challenge, which I stumbled upon from my friend John Graham’s Instagram feed when he finished his challenge that month. He started his second series, the 52 Hike “Adventure” Challenge, and I hit the trail for my regular challenge on January 5th, 2016. A year later I weigh in at the same 180 pounds I did when I started, but it’s all muscle now. I’m back comfortably into a size 32. More than that, having to consistently hike that frequently was the push needed to get “over the hump” and finally get out on foot and cover some real distance—an ability I’ve desired for decades. Lugging 50 pounds of gear for several miles to get the shot just doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. Health aside, that’s the gain I’m most grateful to have achieved. #Beyond52 Will I do another 52 Challenge? Probably not, but I’m glad I did this one. I’m also glad it’s over: I’m looking forward to hiking on my own schedule now, for the sake of the hike, and not because I need to hit an arbitrary target…I simply enjoy hiking too much now to place that kind of stress on it.… NSFW · Explicit
52:December57.12 miles 121,073 steps 8,633+ elev 41. Top of Quartz Mountain, via Wolverton from Highway 89: 7.75 miles 42. Prescott Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting Ceremony, and a bit of antiquing: 2.4 miles 43. Classified Location—location scouting and photo shoot: 2.15 miles 44. Red Bridge Trail: 7.65 miles 45. Centennial Trail: 1.99 miles to see thousand-year-old graffiti on a rock in a gated community 46. Unknown Trail: 4.24 miles 47. Granite Mountain: 8.67 miles, 1,819 feet of climb over two miles, and one celebratory pint from Granite Mountain Brewing 48. Christmas Eve Snow: 3.34 miles, 6 inches and counting 49. Christmas Snow Hike: 1.7 miles chasing the headwaters of Willow Creek, through 18″ of snow 50. Falcon Hunting (photographically speaking): 3.57 miles 51. Javalina Firewater: 4.19 miles 52. Spruce Mountain: a very foggy 9.47 miles A Hike Every Other Day Well ok, 31 days in December, it isn’t quite that much. The Twelve Hikes of Christmas? Regardless, my 52 Hike Challenge is now complete, and I’m never hiking again. Just kidding. In fact, I’m probably going again tomorrow…… NSFW · Explicit
52:November17.87 miles 37,878 steps +2,459 elev 38. Sierra Prieta, easing back in with familiar terrain: 4.62 miles 39. Bell Trail / Wet Beaver Creek; Rimrock, Arizona: 7.15 miles 40. Sierra Prieta, first snow of the season: 6.1 miles Tendons Get Better With Age? All that momentum in September pushing me one hike shy of caught up. One early November morning revealed the tell tail sign, blood surfacing to the skin near my hip joint. A few hours later the pain arrived, hip and knee…no hike for me that day. We caught it early, fortunate there was no serious damage, and after a few weeks taking it easy I’m back on the trail. Three hikes down this week, five weeks left to finish a dozen more. Let’s do this.… NSFW · Explicit
52:September31.35 miles 65,541 steps +5,241 elev 32. Spruce Pack Trail, Sierra Prieta: 5.35 miles 33. All of the Sierra Prieta trails I’d not done before…and a nap: 9.5 miles 34. Pott’s Creek Trail #327. Because, rain…and forests: 5.29 miles 35. T37 Purgatory: 7.48 miles, uphill both ways 36. Abandoned fort, location classified: 1.62 miles 37. Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, Prescott: 2.11 miles Efforts & Expectations I’ve been self-evaluating heavily this month, dwelling on that ever-evolving concept of excellence and striving to purge anything that doesn’t make the cut—such things become ritual when your religion is “curator.” The latest mass culling has included things like unused gear, designs that lack that “pop,” photos that are only “good enough” (I carry the heavy DSLR on hikes now), poor vendors (oh, hey there Wells Fargo), and any perceived slothfulness in the day-to-day. That last one is tough to measure using less-than-excellent gear: I’ve been hiking harder and faster to push past unexpected exhaustion on recent hikes: hikes with cumulative elevation gains supposedly in the mere hundreds of feet. I mean, I live a mile above sea level, and started out this 52 Hike Challenge thing with hikes featuring thousands of feet in gain…the fuck is wrong with me? My inner nerd was screaming “Is the cable plugged in?” so I decided to do some testing. Low and behold: MapMyFitness has been “recalculating for accuracy,” supposedly from USGS source data, and cutting the cumulative elevation gain from my routes by an average of 40% (my last hike was logged at a whopping 20% of the actual gain). Sorry MMF, but your super-accurate “correction” method sucks. What doesn’t suck? The results achieved when you bite the bullet, put the point-and-shoot away, and haul that heavy DSLR kit ten miles up the mountain in the rain:… NSFW · Explicit
52:August27.53 miles 58,376 steps +4,800 elev 25. Devil’s Slide, Pacifica: 1.98 miles 26. Land’s End, San Francisco: 1.99 miles, 2437 stairs 27…was a bust: the “trails” were roads, but at least the Foz got some dirt time. 27a—Searching for White Rock Water: 0.17 miles; 27b—Glen Oaks Mine: 0.29 miles; 27c—Mount Francis Summit: 1.1 miles 28. Willow Creek to Granite Basin #347: 2.36 miles 29. Poland-Walker Tunnel: 4.32 miles 30. Watershed Trail / Deer Lick Spring: 6.13 miles, 13 tadpoles 31. Groom Creek Loop: 9.19 miles, and one fantastic sunset Perspective It’s taken over a decade, but I might just be over my desert phase. There are some trees—some greenery—up here in Prescott, but each trip out I’ve been wandering toward taller and taller mountains, wetter and wetter climates. Running up the coast this month didn’t help, I feel the grey skies and cold mist of the sea calling me home. I’m not sure where we’ll end up next, but I sense a change in the wind coming…… NSFW · Explicit
52:July16.45 miles 34,876 steps 3,190+ elev 22. Venezia #381: 3.25 miles 23. Spruce Pack Trail aka West Spruce #264, via Porter Spur #300: 5.67 miles 24. West Fork Oak Creek, Coconino NF #108: 7.53 miles Reflection A photog friend of mine once gave me a tip on shooting sunsets: “Don’t forget to turn around.” It’s good advice, whether taking pictures or applying it to life in general. Not dwelling in the past—just taking a quick glance to make sure you’ve held on to what’s most important, and are living up to your own goals.… NSFW · Explicit
52:June12.16 miles 28,905 steps 1,915+ elev 19. Woodchute Mountain: 7.4 miles 20. Sierra Prieta #327: 2.64 miles 21. Sierra Prieta #366: 2.12 miles Moving Forward I planned ahead when I started this thing. This is Arizona. We may have trees and water up here in the highlands, but in the summer heat I want to be sitting in a brewery with an ice cold pint, not watering said trees with sweat while I climb eight miles up a mountain. During the winter I was getting an extra hike in each month, saving up as it were for the summer months—it simply wasn’t meant to be. Motivation to catch up through the summer heat will have to come from the enticements of my hiking partner and stunning sunset vistas.… NSFW · Explicit
52:April4 miles 8000 steps 549+ elev 15. Watson Flume Trail: 2.0 miles 16. Downtown Prescott: 2.0 miles Distractions A time for work, a time for health: it’s a balance I’m still learning to maintain, something I barely have a handle on when things are going well. At the beginning of April I was faced with the decision between letting a company die, or picking up someone else’s slack. 80+ hour weeks ensued and fitness goals went in the bin. Lesson learned: always have a backup plan—especially when relying on others—and always include room in that plan for maintaining your own goals.… NSFW · Explicit
52:March24.11 miles 51,134 steps 3,447+ elev 11. Wolverton Mountain via Aspen Creek on Prescott 48: 4.59 miles 12. Wandering the Sierra Prieta via Prescott 366, FR9707T, 327, and FR9401J: 7.42 miles 13. Prescott 393 and 327: 8.58 miles 14. Prescott 37: 3.52 miles Horizon Views like this remind me why I left the city. That’s not haze, nor dust or smog. It’s distance…some 80 miles of it between Wolverton Mountain where I’m standing and the snow-capped Humphrey’s Peak outside Flagstaff. With no traffic on the road it would take almost two hours to get there…or 30 minutes in a Subaru.… NSFW · Explicit
52:February13.46 miles 29,049 steps 1,856+ elev 06. Watson Lake, Flume Trail: 1.4 miles 07. Little Granite Mountain Loop: 7.06 miles 08. Aspen Creek: 1.2 miles 09. T37 Sunset Timelapse: 1.7 miles 10. American Adventurist Desert Rendezvous Trash Cleanup: 2.1 miles and immeasurable squats Increasing the Load Somewhere along the line the bright idea to start shooting time lapses on these hikes became default. I’m not one to tie up the DSLR for hours on end, so this involves hauling a whole other set of gear up Prescott’s particularly mountainous terrain. I’m glad I started this while there is still snow on the ground. Difficulty Bonus: February’s hikes were done with an extra 20 pounds of gear. I still haven’t decided on a backpack…… NSFW · Explicit
52:January14.82 miles 31,443 steps 1,933+ elev 01. Watson Dam, Flume Trail: 1.8 miles 02. Constellation Trails: 1.13 miles 03. Willow Lake, Red Bridge Loop: 3.85 miles 04. Mount Union: 6.94 miles 05. Pioneer Park, Unexpected Hike-a-Bike: 1.1 miles Onward and Upward Unfamiliar with the 52 Hike Challenge? You can read all about it here… For me, it helps maintain the momentum of motivation necessary to burn off that growing gut and stay in shape. It’s also good way to balance out the other exercise I do (like running and biking), and finally start exploring the local trails. I’ve been in this town five years, but until Hike #4 I’d never seen this view…… NSFW · Explicit