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52 Hikes In 52 Weeks: Goal To Get Outside

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Hike 23, hanging out in a fire lookout. Photos courtesy Laurie Tewksbery

School, work, chores — the list of excuses for not getting outside can be endless. One hiker from New York came up with a way to hold herself accountable to visit nature at least one day a week: Make it a public quest.

Laurie Tewksbury is a graduate student at Syracuse University and an ECCO ambassador. She completed “My Maine (Bucket) List”, a list of 65 things to “visit, see, eat and experience” during her year in Maine as an Americorps volunteer.

Upon completing the list, she realized that she had seen more of Maine than her home state of New York, and she decided to do something about it.

Thus, “52 Hikes In 52 Weeks” was born. Laurie has completed 25 hikes since beginning the project, documenting each with a post on her website and Instagram feed.

Experience Tewksbury’s first 25 adventures in photos on page 2

We got in touch with Tewksbury to learn more about a unique goal that could be emulated by anyone needing motivation to get outdoors. —Sean McCoy

GearJunkie: How did you get involved with the ECCO ambassador program?
Through one very awesome email. I received an invitation from ECCO to become a part of their newly-launched program. It was an easy decision on my part. [Check out some of the shoes Laurie has worn on her hikes at the ECCO USA site.]

What is your outdoors background?
Besides running throughout the neighborhood as a child, I wasn’t formally introduced to the outdoors until I took a couple of backpacking courses in college. It taught me the basics: how to choose and then use the gear, planning our trips, leave no trace, and some survival tactics. The trip was then followed by a winter backpacking trip in the Adirondacks. That was all I needed to become hooked.

Why did you decide to set a goal of “52 Hikes In 52 Weeks?”
I set it mainly to challenge myself. I was moving back to my hometown to finish my graduate degree and I didn’t want to become complacent. After exploring so much of Maine with the help of ‘My Maine (Bucket) List’ last year, I knew that continuing to post my goals online would help me achieve yet another adventure-filled year. I also felt that I had now explored more of Maine in 1 year than I had New York in 23 years. It was definitely time to change that.

Has it been hard to stick to the schedule?
It surely hasn’t been easy but that’s why I set it up as 52 hikes by the end of the year. I attempt to hit the trails each week but sometimes go without and sometimes, when the time is right, complete 3 or more in just one week. I’m a couple of hikes behind right now but am planning my catch up as we speak.

What have you learned while attempting these hikes?
This has become quite the personal experience for me. I have become insanely passionate about hiking, camping, climbing, traveling, and the outdoors in general. I’ve become more tuned into the outdoor community and industry and I’ve made every grad project include the outdoors if possible. Each hike has gotten me more interested in pushing my abilities and trying new things.

What is your favorite destination so far?
Definitely the high peaks region of the Adirondacks. The gorges in western New York are absolutely beautiful and an interesting place to hike. However, the views from the high peaks and the demanding hikes to get there are what draw me to the area. I’d love to have completed all 46 one day.

Do you have any grand finale planned?
Nothing planned yet, though that’s a good idea. I’ll be spending the remainder of my year outside of Lake Placid in the Adirondacks so I think I could have some fun with this.

Are you doing any overnights as a part of this goal?
Again, there’s nothing planned but I’m sure there will be. I have interest in backpacking to Marcy Dam and Avalanche Pass and exploring as much of the high peaks as possible. So I’m sure there will be a few of these in the mix as spring and summer make its way to New York.

What obstacles have you had to overcome to keep this alive?
Finding people to accompany me. Despite returning to campus and my hometown, most of my friends have left. I personally don’t want to enter the backcountry alone so I’ve struggled to hike the trails in which I’m most interested. To make up for that, I’ve been exploring all of the corners of my nearest state parks; places where I’m comfortable and still have cell service should anything happen.

What advice can you offer others who want to spend more time in the outdoors?
Go outside and don’t let things get in your way. Simply, ignore your excuses and open your door.

I’ve found that the online outdoor community is amazing. Need some outdoor buddies? Gear? Knowledge? Head online to join a Twitter chat; #ClimbChat, #HikerChat, #STPlive, and #ATQA to name a few. Or introduce yourself to a community on Facebook or Instagram. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Also, set a goal for yourself and make it public online in those communities. People will help inspire and motivate you and I’m positive that they’ll keep you accountable. It surely worked for me.

—Laurie Tewksbury is a graduate student at Syracuse University and an ECCO ambassador.

Experience Tewksbury’s first 25 adventures in photos on page 2…

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