An Outdoor Challenge

I feel the burn in my legs and in my lungs as I climb the hill before me. All at once painful yet satisfying, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I reach the top.

I would not venture to say that Andy and I are “avid” hikers, but we do like to hit the trails at least a couple of times a month. Having a desk job instead of working retail means that I am not moving nearly as much as I used to — despite biking to and from work.

Since living in California, we have gone on more regular hiking adventures. Much of it is because the weather is beautiful year round but also because there are so many gorgeous places to explore.

It is an inexpensive form of entertainment and exercise, and we can bring our dogs with. Not only that, but we get the chance to get in tune with nature — to breathe in fresh air, see wildlife and more.

If it is hot in Ramona, we either go to a trail in the mountains or by the coast to escape the heat. Having spent the past two years exploring many of the hiking trails in the area, we’ve realized that we truly enjoy our hiking adventures and want to continue doing it.

We’ve dreamed of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or the Appalachian Trail. Our newest dream is to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT) which overlaps the PCT for much of its length. It is 211 miles that stretches from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney — passing through Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks in the Sierra Nevada.

Though not as ambitious as hiking the PCT, we want to hike the JMT because it passes through some of what we believe will be the most beautiful parts (plus we’ve hiked sections of the PCT in our area already). We think it is a dream that is do-able, and we are excited to do it someday.

In the meantime, we’ve decided to tackle a different hiking challenge: The Coast to Crest Challenge.

This challenge is a series of five different hikes with specific destination points. If we hike all five and take “selfies” at each of the specific points, we are awarded a certificate of completion from the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, as well as a gift card for an outdoor supplies store and a discount coupon for another one (perfect for us to use to get our JMT hiking supplies). And since there are two of us, we will each get these things!

It’s great motivation to get us out on the trail and to see new places.

We’ve already tackled two of the trails.

The San Dieguito Lagoon:

And yesterday, we hiked Del Dios Gorge to Rattlesnake Viewpoint.

At nearly four miles round trip, it was a nice hike for the day.

We enjoyed the informational plaques along the way and got a chance to learn more about the area. It was a pretty hike but not one of the best we’ve done.

Funny story…we actually made two attempts at the hike, one on Sunday and one on Monday. We got a late start Sunday, and I was worried we wouldn’t make it back to the car before dark, so we turned around.

We came back with the dogs on Monday to redo it, only to find out that the place we had turned around was only a short distance from our end point! Oops! It just meant an extra workout, I guess.

We ended the day at the Del Mar dog beach, a different one that we normally go to.

The sunset was one of the most amazing we have seen and the perfect end to our day.

The dogs were exhausted, and we decided to pick up some of our favorite beer on the way home for a job well done.

We have three more hikes to do before we complete the challenge — one of them we have already done but not within the challenge’s timeframe, so we will be hiking it again.

Andy and I are thrilled to be taking on this new task. It will keep us in better shape and give us a sense of accomplishment once we’ve completed the entire challenge. We are excited to eventually get our lightweight hiking gear for more backpacking adventures.

The other day, we were talking about how our expectations and standards have changed. Living in the small space of a motorhome makes us realize that we do not need a lot of room — we can happily survive with less. For most, a motorhome would be a luxurious way of camping, not a living situation. For us, it is our house and our “luxurious” camping would be a smaller camper with regular camping done in our tent.

We’ve started looking for and dreaming of buying land in different places, getting an idea of what we want and what we’ll need to make it happen. We’re excited to get back on the road for more adventures, but for now, we are thrilled to have found a new challenge!

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