Nora Sibley Denker

ON THE RIGHT PATH

Nora Sibley Denker
ON THE RIGHT PATH

^ PHOTOGRAPH by NSD

Deciding to take on a #52HikeChallenge in 2019 is definitely a little bit daunting for me. First of all, I am not known as a particularly regimented person. Sticking with a routine has never been a strong suit of mine. However, even though I haven’t been hiking regularly in the last 10 years or so, it was definitely an enjoyable part of my childhood. I spent a couple summers as a “trekker” at the Cottonwood Gulch in New Mexico and when I wasn’t busy challenging the authority of my counselors, haha, I was thoroughly appreciating the adventures and ability to see beautiful views of the mountains and canyons that only a trail outing could provide. When I was 14 years old, a close friend asked me to join her family’s trip to Mt. Assiniboine, a backcountry lodge north of Banff in British Columbia. The lodge is so remote, guests are helicoptered in! We spent a week at this glorious place hiking daily loops in meadows and around crystal clear lakes, and at the end, we decided to brave the 27 km hike out. Although I was unsure of whether I’d be able to hack it, I set off with the group, one of the youngest of the crew, and did make it alllll the way out, and finally… back to “civilization.” I wasn’t one of the fastest, and at the end, my feet felt like they were going to fall off, but that day, hiking at my own pace, silent but with the tunes in mind, wild flowers at every turn, and the layers of blue mountains in the distance, what I experienced, despite my aching feet, became some of the best memories I have to date.

Last year, many mornings were spent outside walking in a “natural area” called McLaren Park with my bf, Noah, and his sweet spaniel, Arlo. This new routine has been life changing. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it. I loved my renewed awareness of SF seasons (slight but still significant), long talks without the distraction of social media, and a reconnection to the strength of my body. I still struggle with whether I can keep up the pace on a walk, and whether I’ve picked the correct layers so that I’m not cold or overheated, but I do know that I want to get out there and see the wide open green of my state, breathe fresh air and feel alive.

And so, whether it’s hot, cold, rainy, or windy, each week in 2019, we have committed to finding a nearby hike and setting out on the trail, together. 3 down so far, and 49 to go!

We have found that  AllTrails is the best app in helping us stay organized and focused as we plan our weekly outings. It’s very easy to browse certain areas or filter by length, rating, difficulty level or specifics, such as “dog friendly”. The best part is being able to download a map to stay on the right path or get driving directions right to the trail head. Nothing worse than getting lost before you’ve even started!

On Instagram, the hashtag #52HIKECHALLENGE2019 follows everyone who is trying to complete the challenge, and you can follow our hikes here. I will be posting geotagged images each week to document.

Here are a few items that I enjoy wearing out there, or are on my wishlist for future adventures. Enjoy! xNS

BANDANAS:

Apples are the most delicious trail snack!

^ Noah and me up on Mt. Tamalpais

^ California Sagebrush Artemisia californica, is a highly aromatic shrub, we come across often on the trail

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