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Hiking Vancouver Island

Reflections on Our 30-Day Hiking Challenge

Last week, I promised a reflective wrap-up to our #30hikesin30days. This reflection has proved to be harder than I initially assumed. This was not due to a lack of takeaways received from our endeavours — quite the opposite. I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my mind that it has been difficult to decide how to put them into a concise post. To keep it simple, I have used key headings, point form, and links to further reading.

Today - 1 of 1 (2)
Buttertubs Marsh, Nanaimo, BC.

Where did the idea for #30hikes originate?
Quite simply, we were looking for a replacement Camino. Richard and I brainstormed a variety of different versions before deciding upon this one.

Why a 30-Day Challenge?

Our last two Caminos were 30 days each. This length seemed both significant and doable. There’s been much written about 30-day challenges. Here are some of the touted benefits. After undertaking this venture, I completely believe!
• a guide to help achieve goal(s)
• one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach
• motivator
• comfort zone destroyer
• help shake up daily routine
• potential cannot be realized without trying new things
Further Reading: Forbes Verywellmind Inc. Men’s Journal

Today - 1 of 1 (4)
Stocking Creek Falls, Saltair, BC.

Why Hiking?
This question is easy. Looking for a Camino walking replacement was our number one goal behind this challenge. We live on Vancouver Island where there are over 235 official hiking trails equaling more than 1,981.5 km. (Source) That meant that we could easily take on a different hike each time.
Below are some benefits of regular walking/hiking cited by researchers.
• Strengthen the heart
• Lower blood pressure
• Improve sleep
• Increase energy level
• Decrease mental decline
• Lower Alzheimer’s risk
• Lose weight
• Strengthen muscles
• Reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory terpenes found in forest air)
• Lighten your mood
Further Reading: Arthritis.org Healthy Families BC WalkBC Forest Bathing

Why Blog Daily?

I love to hike, and I love to write. My favourite form of writing is quick, short, reflective entries. So hiking and blogging made perfect sense for me. It also nudged me to absorb more details on my walks (so I could better describe them) and to remain accountable. The support and encouragement that we received from others added fun and further motivation to this challenge. You can read more about the critical importance of social support and overall health here.

Today - 1 of 1
Craig Bay, Parksville, BC.

What We Gained
For this category, my first question is, ‘how much time do you have?’ Our gains from this challenge were numerous, and we are still realizing more of the takeaways as time passes. Here are a few:
• Daily, quality, uninterrupted time together (it’s tough to read phone messages or scroll through tv channels while hiking)
• Focus on the positive (what we can do) as opposed to the negative (what we are missing out on during COVID)
• Ongoing gratitude for the stunning island on which we live
• Strengthen our knowledge of local history
• Reminder of all of those who made these hiking trails and conservation areas possible
• Increase of strengths and reduction of fears (throughout our walks our leg muscles definitely strengthened, and my fear of heights actually reduced…or at least became more manageable)
• Personal gratification with our accomplishments

Today - 1 of 1 (3)
Wildgreen Way, Parksville, BC.

What We Lost
Other than weight, we lost almost nothing. Richard continued his golf, and I retained my social activities and regular Zoom calls. Laurie Graves (Notes from the Hinterland) asked, “Did you have to push yourself to go on any of the hikes?” Surprisingly, for both Richard and me, the honest answer is ‘no.’ There were days when we were more tired, but there was never a time when either of us wished we hadn’t begun this challenge. There also wasn’t a hike that didn’t seem to be the perfect location for that particular day.
* I did say “almost nothing” because there was one naysayer–someone who made it a point to let me know that I was crazy to undertake this entire challenge (and to drag innocent Richard along). My response, 1) You can’t win them all 2) Innocent Richard is the one who started this whole thing (and was the one to suggest we continue). But still, ouch!

Today - 1 of 1 (1)
Stocking Creek Falls, Saltair, BC.

Would We Do It Again?

Yes.

The day after this challenge ended, I had a small fantasy of lying around and eating chocolates. When I asked Richard what he wanted to do, he replied, “Hike Horne Lake…and throw in Spider Lake as well.” So, that’s what we did on Day 31. We then continued hiking on Days 32 – 36 (which is today). I did discontinue the blogging part (insert a deep sigh of relief here). But I have posted a daily pic on Instagram. Our only self-imposed requirement has been that we continue to use a different hiking trail each time.

How long will it last before we break our daily chain, or run out of local hikes? I have no idea. Regardless of whether our hiking streak ends tomorrow or lasts for another 30-days (God forbid!), I am incredibly thankful that we took this on. More than words can express, I also appreciate all of your support and encouraging comments. You’ve made a genuine difference.

Here are the hikes that we have done on Days 31 – 36. Click on the photos for more details.

If interested, you can review our past hikes or follow our upcoming ones on Instagram.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” (Fred DeVito)

#30hikesin30days

By Retirement Reflections

Prior to retirement, I lived and worked in Beijing China for fourteen years (Middle School Principal/Deputy Director at The Western Academy of Beijing). Leaving international life behind, my husband and I retired to Vancouver Island in June 2015. To document both this transition and our new adventures, ‘Retirement Reflections’ was born. I hope that you enjoy reading these reflections, and will be willing to share your own.

67 replies on “Reflections on Our 30-Day Hiking Challenge”

Wonderful wrap-up! I really enjoyed “going”with you on the hikes, and everyday I looked forward to reading your blog. Vancouver Island is an amazing, beautiful place. But a naysayer? What the heck! I didn’t for one minute doubt that this was a team effort. Finally, thanks for the ping-back.

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Hi, Laurie – Throughout this challenge, I always looked forward to your thoughtful comments. They did make me feel like you were hiking right along beside us. From regularly following ‘Notes from the Hinterland’, I believe that you and Clif would absolutely love Vancouver Island!

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I was sorry to hear about the “naysayer”. I don’t know why people feel it is their business to interfere in someone’s thoughts & plans and think they know how people feel about what they are doing. Richard is a big boy and I’m sure if he didn’t want to do this he wouldn’t!

I applaud you for what you are doing and no pressure on how and how often you want to continue doing it. Love the pictures and enthusiasm. Love you guys xxoo

Sent from my iPad

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Hi, Kathy – Your warm and compassionate comment deeply touched me. It is always easier to write for the ‘blogosphere’ than to share my writing with friends from my daily life. If I haven’t told you lately, your friendship means a great deal to me. Thank you for all that you do.

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I enjoyed this because I am new to VI and was not aware of any of these hikes. I still think that you can export the blog file to Word and create one document that people can print out. You can post as a PDF. Hope I can do some of the hikes when it is cooler. Especially the one with cinnamon buns.

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Hi, Ann – I always love your encouragement to take my blog further. I’m careful to keep my writing recreational and never to turn it into a chore. Currently, I don’t have any plans to turn these hikes into an ebook or PDF file (I would way overedit). But I am happy for anyone to print off what they like. I would also be delighted to answer any questions about individual hikes in this series.

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Brilliant Donna – this is just a perfect write up … and so glad you’re continuing on – in your own time and when you feel like it … as it’s summer and you can reach lots of hikes – Vancouver Island is awash with beautiful trails – makes so much sense. You’ve described everything succinctly and appropriately as far as I can see. Take care and happy weekend …Hilary

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Pretty darn cool! A couple years ago a running friend from years ago challeged those of us in the old group to run or walk at least one mile every day between THanksgiving (4th Thursday in November) until the New Year. It sounded daunting, and some days it was. But most days I walked more than one mile. It was definitely motivating, there was one day when I only did one mile because the wind and sleet made that mile miserable, but I did it! 🙂 I was going to ask, as I was reading this, whether you missed it after the challenge was done, but I see you’re continuing! Nice job!

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Hi, Dawn – Thank you for sharing this story. It is an awesome example of the power of a simple challenge…and the ability that people have to motivate others. I’m glad to hear that you walked your mile even in the wind and sleet. You likely would have passed on that without the challenge!

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Yay, you did it!! Great response to the naysayer!! So, comparing it to the Camino – how far did you walk/hike?

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Hi, Dee – In our first two Camios, Richard and I walked 110 km in 7 days (15.7 km or just under 10 miles per day). During our third Camno we covered 700 km in 30 days (23.3 km or 14.4 mi per day). In our last Camino we walked 400 km in 24 days, and spent the remaining days sauntering around Rome (16.6 km or 10.3 miles per day). Since we began our #30hikes challenge, I have walked 554,232 steps or 377 km/ 234 mi in 37 days (10.18 km) for a total of 87 hours. (Aren’t walking apps wonderful?)
The key difference between our Caminos and this challenge is that we are sleeping in our own bed and still keeping up with other social activities and our daily life stuff! Thanks for following. I greatly appreciate it!

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Donna you and Richard did an amazing job (you doubly so because you blogged about each day’s effort too!) Congrats on finishing the 30 days and I’m so glad you’re still enjoying getting out into nature together – beautiful weather for it over there. x

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As I’ve already told you, I’m not surprised you undertook this adventure – your Camino experiences already set down the behaviour. Nor was I surprised you have kept going once the challenge was completed. There is something highly addictive about time on the trail among the trees. It changes us in subtle ways and if you’re anything like me, each hike just makes you eager for the next one.

Soon you’ll discover that when the seasons change, there will be trails you want to repeat to re-experience them in a new way. It will never ‘get old’ 😀

Well done!! Forget the naysayers and continue following the call of the trail!

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Thanks, Joanne – These are very wise words indeed. I was actually surprised that we continued to hike a new trail daily without a day off. I hadn’t anticipated that. You are right about trails beind addictive. Now that our weather is finally warm, there are many beach and shady creek paths that we want to explore while we can. I’d love to introduce you to some of them!

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Thanks, Suzanne – Even I hope that this does not become a 235-day challenge. But it is fun seeing how far we will go without taking a day off, and without repeating a trail that we have already done in this series. I’ll keep you posted.:D

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Congratulations on achieving your goal Donna. Sounds like you have started a long lasting habit. I admire you for setting those lofty goals. Maybe even inspired me to do something similar although certainly not of the same caliber. Cheers!

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Another big achievement for you both and the fact that you are both still hiking every day is proof of how much you have enjoyed yourselves 🙂 The Naysayer…good grief there’s always one isn’t there, just smile and ignore 🙂 Absolutely brilliant Donna and to think of all those days of you both achieving something together, enjoying the outdoors, breathing in all that fabulous air and getting all that exercise while fully enjoying it, together. Wonderful!

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Thanks, Sam – You’ve pinpointed exactly the key takeaways for us — achieving something together, being outdoors and exercising without going to the gym. It’s been a win-win-win!
Oh and there was often coffee and/or a baked good at the end of our hike. That made it a win-win-win-win! 😀

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I am so thankful that you shared your photos and experiences of each day’s hike with those of us who are still on lock down. You and Richard are an inspiration. I connect your daily hikes to our times on the patio (minus the exercise). We talk, we reminisce, we plan, we daydream together. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible experience with us. Big hugs to you both.

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I’m a walker (not a hiker) and I know how addictive it can be. That feel good feeling at the end is great. The difference is that a walk is shorter, it’s often the same route and doesn’t end in a cinnamon bun! 😦 Thanks for sharing with us. I loved it!

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Hi, Kate – For this series, I have used the terms ‘hiking’ and ‘walking’ interchangeably. Most of our trails in this series have included a forested path, and have been at least 7 km, so I’ve gone with ‘hikes’. I have had numerous short walks that have ended in cinnamon buns. I think that you have more willpower than me. 😀
Thank you for folloiwng and for your kind words.

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Thanks, Anabel – According to government documents, Vancouver Island has 534 km of easy trails and 456 km of moderate trails (a total of 186 trails plus 49 more if you add in the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast). I would love to experience as many of these trails as possible — but perhaps not consecutively! Thank you for following!

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Thank you, Donna, for your reflective wrap-up. Congrats again for completing your hiking challenge and daily blogging about your hikes. I’ve enjoyed following along. VI has so many beautiful trails so I’m glad you and Richard decided to continue hiking. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Thanks, Natalie – By continuing to hike with the ‘no repeat trails’ guideline, we are discovering many new trails, and reacquainting ourselves with trails that we had forgotten. It’s been a win-win! Thanks so much for following along.

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Donna,
Hello from Hungry Horse, MT. I ran out early for coffee and found a “connection”. Had a quick moment to read your recap. So proud of you both for your accomplishment and for going beyond the goal. You rubbed off on us—we went “6 in 6” in Glacier including one of seven miles. Not bad for two old folks with five joint replacements between us! Details to follow. Again, congratulations! Joe

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I love that you took us along on your 30 days. I enjoyed seeing your sights, reading about your experiences. They [whoever that is] used to say that it took 21 days to fully embrace a new goal or routine. I wonder when it became 30 days? A rhetorical question…

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Hi, Ally – I had also heard that 21 day theory many times before. Now it appears that researchers are saying that it can take anywhere from 18 – 254 days to form a habit (an average of 66 days). Good grief!!That gives me 28 days to go! 😦
Thank you for following!

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Fantastic and inspiring wrap-up, Donna! That you both are still continuing your daily hikes is proof enough of the #30hikesin30days success! Love the photos you added in this post. I applaud you for the physical (hiking) and mental (blogging and thinking about posts) challenges you conquered during the last month. I also enjoy hiking and writing, but I’d be too lazy (or unmotivated) to do both on a daily basis. I think. Of course, I’ve never tried. 🙂

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Hi, Liesbet – It’s interesting how something that is motivating to one person is a deal breaker for another. I love to write and frequently create stories in my head. But to actually sit down and write a novel or memoir? That’s in my “Way Too Hard” basket! Thats one of the many things that I admire about you!

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Donna, I am so impressed with your (and Richard’s) accomplishment. Were any of the trails completely new to you? Although I walk/hike most days, I tend to mostly go on the trails right outside my door, and I seldom walk as far you did each day on your challenge. Now I have some new destinations to try out!

Jude

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Hi, Jude – Prior to this challenge, Richard and I walked the same route (our house to Community Park Beach and back) almost every single day in March, April, May and June. During this challenge, many trails were brand new to us, including Westwood Lake, Lantzville Lookout, Extesnion Ridge, Cable Bay, Richard’s Marsh, Neck Point, Jack Point, Nymph Falls, Stocking Creek, Lost Lake, Hole in the Wall, Kitsuksis Creek and Beach Estates. I truly recommend them all! 😀

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An interesting post, Donna. I appreciate the sources you attached to this post. I also find the time together with my husband is priceless. Chuck is turning 71 tomorrow and I don’t like to think about him getting older. I accept myself getting older. Yes, a strange way to think about all of this.

I loved everything about your hikes and I greatly appreciate you sharing the words and the photos. It was/is a bright part of my day. Continuing with your hikes speaks volumes to all of the benefits and enjoyment. 💕

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WOW! I am so impressed with your vision and resolve. It is such a beautiful way to discover your island. Congrats!

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As you can see, Donna, I am catching up with your posts today, but catching you on the trail is tough, lol! 235 hiking trails? I can only wish! I’m so bored walking in my sad suburban neighborhood, I can’t wait to explore our new home in a few months. Hans and I have looked into buying snow shoes so we can hike with the dogs next January. Adventurous, huh? Keep on trucking and enjoy the summer weather!

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There are so many win-wins here and addressing a fear of heights has to be right up in there although it may be a surprising, unsought benefit.

I really hand it to you and Richard! Although I love the outdoors, hiking, change of scenery, taking advantage of beauty in our own areas, I’m not sure I could have stuck it out for 30 days. (Just because of my inability to focus or sustain things at times). I’m glad you stuck it out because it’s been wonderful following your journey. And as I wrote elsewhere, I’m not sure I would have had the discipline to sit down every evening to summarize the experience. So I hand it to you! Beautifully done!

You and your husband are truly inspirations!

Susan Grace

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Hi, Susan – It definitely is a mutual admiration society! I greatly admire the care and thought that you put into every single comment that you make — without fail. Your comments show your thoughtful, caring nature – and your incredible ability to listen (both in oral words and in print). I hope that all is well with you. Sending warm hugs your way.

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I’m in Texas right now visiting my daughter who moved here last spring. Sitting on a wide veranda taking in the sunset and catching up with you!

😘
S.G.

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Thanks, Debbie – I’ve usually had a WordPress theme of the year (although I believe my last one was Twenty Seventeen), so updating to Twenty Twenty made sense. I’ve heard that this theme still has some bugs in it, and I can’t find how to add my title. Still, I’ll give it a go unless it frustrates me completely. Thank you for your feedback. This is very helpful.

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I have LOVED this series and the motivation behind it. Mostly I love the themes you identified and how each hike was perfect for the day that you did it. Being in nature at the moment is a reminder that, actually, everything will be ok.

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