Hiking Goals

By Laura Hess, Girls Who Hike Illinois Ambassador

Why do we hike? Why does nature call to us? We all have different reasons for hitting the trail. We all have different goals. Maybe we are called to the wild just to feel the peacefulness of nature, or to get a workout and feel strong, or to clear our minds and recenter ourselves. Whatever the reason, there is a purpose. 

One thing I’ve learned is that goals are dynamic. Life doesn’t seem to care that we have set goals. It throws us its curve-balls and we learn to adjust. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but we do nonetheless. In the last three years I’ve had 3 surgeries, including a hip replacement at the age of 45. Prior to the hip surgery I could barely walk down the block. Needless to say, physical strength was “the stuff dreams are made of.” 

Nowadays I am making full use of my new hip and conquered a very basic long-time goal...to walk... a lot, because now I can! But why stop there? I wanted to feel strong again.

Goal #1 – Feel strong. Hiking on different terrains and elevations makes me feel empowered. I took my walks to the trails and allowed nature to bring out my inner warrior.

Feeling like a rock star in Arizona

Feeling like a rock star in Arizona

After feeling comfortable in my trail legs, I had a conversation with a guy I worked with who is an avid hiker. That conversation inspired me to set my second goal.

Goal #2 - hike in every state! This was exciting because it gave a reason, dare I say an obligation, to travel!


Since I now had a mission, I searched Facebook, Meetup and Pinterest for places to hike. It was then that I discovered my third goal.

Goal #3 – join and complete the 52 Week 52 Hike challenge. If I’m going to hike in every state, there’s no sense in procrastinating. I can hike every week! This also held me accountable and didn’t make hiking a casual pastime, but something that helps create my identity. It also encouraged me to become a Girls Who Hike ambassador, to share my love with others. 

I’m on hike #20 and have logged over 150 miles in 7 states in the past 12 months. I don’t know if that sounds like a little or a lot, but for someone with a hip replacement that comes from the oh so friendly Chicago weather, it feels like an accomplishment.  

What will my next goal be? Kilimanjaro? Who knows, because I’ve learned that goals change, but they continue to drive us to greater elevations. What are your goals?

Laura is the ambassador for our Illinois chapter. You can join her local meetups and discussions through GWHIL by clicking here.