50 First Hikes: Intro to This Hiking Challenge

My friend Tikima and I created a challenge for ourselves this year: #50FirstHikes. This challenge requires us to hike 50 new-to-us trails throughout the course of 2021 – roughly one trail per week, with two buffer weeks built-in. The goal is to hike more often but also to go out and explore. Since we’re mostly stuck at home, we’ll be exploring a lot of trails in our community, hopefully finding some new favorites along the way!

Why 50 Hikes?

The number sounded good? Frankly, I wanted a cutesy play on “50 First Dates,” and I like the way 50 sounds versus 52. I don’t know! 

Are There Any Rules for Which Types of Trails You’ll Hike?

We aren’t limiting the types of hikes we’re doing. The only rule is to find a different trail each time – something that will surely get more challenging the more often we hike! To identify these new-to-me trails, I’ll be using this book (affiliate link), 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C., coupled with All Trails and websites for Montgomery County (Maryland) Parks and Maryland Department of Natural Resources
While I prefer natural surface trails, paved trails aren’t completely out of the question. Further, it doesn’t matter whether the trails are two miles or ten miles; sometimes, you only have time for a short hike before the sun sets (looking at you, winter!). 
The trails don’t have to have a lake or mountain or any specific “sights” or historic landmarks. 
Again: The only rule is that it’s our first time hiking it!
Of course, there will be times where we will be hiking separately, so I will keep track of all of the trails I hike on my own here and on my Instagram page, but you can find all of the trails we hike on the 50 First Hikes Instagram page. 
I also think I may want to run some of these trails – especially as the weather gets warmer and I tend to want to run a bit more. I’m going to count these are hikes because, honestly, what’s really the difference between trail running and hiking besides speed? And as slowly as I run, it’s probably the same pace as some people walk it!

Is There Anything You Will Do on Every Hike?

Yes! So glad you asked!
We will begin each hike with a land acknowledgment. I had never heard of doing this until I went on a hike with Black Girls Trekkin out in Los Angeles County. That really opened my mind to taking some time at the beginning of the hike (and because I love research, before and after the hike as well) to acknowledge the history of the Indigenous people who were forced out of these lands and their ancestors who reside there today. It’s really important for me to understand this painful history and to learn more about how I can support Indigenous communities.  
I will use Native Land Digital’s map resource to identify the Native lands upon which we hike. Learn more about how this resource works. In my blog posts, I’ll share some of what I learn about these Indigenous communities throughout the course of this year. 

Are You Going to Rate or Review Trails?

Yes! I will be sharing information about the terrains, trail difficulty, distance, and more. If there’s anything I’ve learned over all of my years of hiking since Google has been around, it’s that there is not a ton of accurate information about directions and distances when it comes to trails in my area! The D.C. Metro Area has tons of excellent hiking trails, but some of the information available online can be a bit challenging to navigate.

What If I Want to Participate?

Don’t let me stop you! If you decide to take on this challenge, make sure that you travel safely and get approval for hiking from your doctor. If you post on social media, use the hashtag #50FirstHikes so that we can give you a little love!

Final Thoughts (For Now)?

I’m really excited about all of the hiking excursions I will complete this year. I can’t wait to get out and explore my community and learn about history at the same time!

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