The 2017 52-Hike Challenge reflections

I finished the 52 Hike Challenge on December 31st. It really did take me all year to do it. I almost thought I was not going to finish this challenge because in the beginning of December, I was on #43. But another part of me thought it was still possible to power through 9 more hikes because it’s not unbearably hot and a lot of the hikes I’ve done were extremely close.

What have I learned in the 52 Hike Challenge?

I discovered the pockets of green spaces in a large, urban city like Los Angeles.

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Franklin Canyon #50 – I can’t believe this is sandwiched between Beverly Hills and Studio City!

Importance of conserving and appreciating nature spaces. Having green spaces creates character in the city and homes to local wild life. To the people who brag about being energy efficient because they have an electric car and they diligently recycle — what good is it to do those things if you don’t go visit the local parks. There are greedy rich bastard (GRBs) who want to take this all away because to them profits are always before parks. To show my support to continue preserving these parks and preserves, I’ll keep on hiking.

Claremont Hills

#6 Claremont Trails

Make better use of my free time. Most of my hikes happened on the weekend so instead of staying in on a Saturday watching TV until the evening, I spend it outside. And I am proud of that. There were some conversations where people have asked “have you seen name-that-TV-show?”Nope, because I spend time outside.Hike 50 Porter Ranch

Hike #52 – Porter Ranch Trails

Taking a break from technology. The 52 Hike Challenge taught me it’s ok to stay away from technology. Jokingly, I’ve said “I think I was smarter before smartphones came out.” It could be true. Some people think their smart phone and mobile devices should be their brains where they could dump their appointments and their notes — only to never be retrieved. For me, technology has been a distraction more than anything. Throughout 2017, I stopped using my phone as my all-in-one entertainment system because it just got distracting. I only use it for making phone calls, sending messages, taking pictures, posting on Instgram, listen to audiobooks when I am doing chores. I occasionally post on Facebook to show I am still alive. I no longer use it to play videos, watch movies, organize my calendar, and even play games. Sorry Candy Crush.

Side note: I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I struggle what to do with it. I think I’ll just use it for Pinterest and looking up recipes when I prep meals.

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Hike #38 – Cave of Muntis

I learned there is no rung I can’t reach. In 2017, I also got into graduate school. I did not reach this rung because I said, “I want it”. I reached that rung because I worked for it like how I worked all year to complete 52 hikes.

Rancho Palos Verdes Hike

Hike #29 Rancho Palos Verdes

I learned the people who belittle me are real trolls. My husband kindly calls these people haters. No, I’ll stick with trolls. Trolls block people from making them cross the bridge, preventing them from succeeeding. Haters sounds too passive, but with trolls it requires a little bit of action — a fight, a push, or something to knock them off the bridge so you can get to your destination. Coming into the new year finishing 52 Hikes makes me feel like a badass. I may have not picked this feeling of newfound confidence 30 hikes ago, but now I’ve got this badge in my head and my heart. For anyone who belittles me, I should ask “well, have you gone on 52 hikes? Oh I’m sorry, no you haven’t? Well you can’t tell me what I can and can’t do!”

You can find some photos of my 52 Hike Challenge journey on my Instagram account.

Hike 35/52: Cave of Munits

Date: September 5th
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 2.53 miles

Say what? A cave in LA? Yes there is a cave in LA and not too far from my house. It was my first time exploring the El Escorpion Park. It’s funny how you come from super suburbs to this vast park in a few steps.

Unfortunately I did not get to explore inside the cave. In this post you’ll just find the entryway. That day I was not ready to go inside because it requires a little bit of climbing. Because I went alone, I did not inside the cave. Remember, safety in a hike ALWAYS comes first.

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First of all, I made mistake taking this path for most of the hike. I’m sure it goes further into the mountains.

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That slot you see is the cave entrance. I was somewhat disappointed because it did not even look like a cave but I thought, I’ll still check it out anyways. I might be a tiny cave.

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Here the cave entrance up close. This required a litle bit of climbing up. Because I went alone and had no spotter, I decided to end the hike and return to my car. I told myself “until next time.”

A few weeks later, I came back with my husband. Stay tuned for more pictures. It’s far more impressive.

Hike 34/52 Exploring along the river

Date: September 3rd
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Weather: Cool, rainy
Distance: 2 miles

We spent our last day in Sequoia and Kings Canyon exploring along the river until it rained. When it rained too hard, we had to stop exploring otherwise it’d be too slippery to hike. I think it’d be impossible to climb back up!

Koda did a fantastic job crossing the river. You showed people you’re not just a pretty Pomeranian, you kind of a BAMF too.

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Hike 33/52 – Hume Lake

Date: September 2nd
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 3.3 mile loop

Hume Lake

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Usually Teddy hates being in the water. Because it was so hot, they did not mind taking a dip.

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Hike 32/52: Wandering Through a Forest of Giants

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The Grant Grove is a popular spot in Sequoia/Kings Canyon because it has the General Grant Grove tree — one of the largest trees in world. Before going to Grant Grove, I thought the trees through our daily drive out of the camp site was huge. These trees in Grant Grove certainly dwarf them all! It was hard taking a photo without looking up, up, up!

Date: September 1st
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 1 mile loop (with a little bit of wandering)

Sequoia Grant Tree

In the trail, one of the first things we saw was this tree tunnel. If you further venture off the trail teeny bit, you’ll find another less crowded tree tunnel where a little bit of climbing is required.

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The second tree tunnel we found.

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Inside of the second tree tunnel

And of course I am obsessed with the textures of the tree!

Sequoia Grant Tree

And the obligatory photo of me next to a Sequoia for size comparison. Note: This is not the Grant Tree. Just your average Sequoia.

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Also note, not the largest tree in the park. The largest living tree in the park and in the world goes to General Sherman at 275 ft. Unfortunately, we did not go to that part of the park because it was crowded and we could not find any parking. Tip: Find a national park bus that can drop you off ther.e

Hike 31/52 Caballero Canyon Hike

Date: August 18th
Neighborhood: Tarzana
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 3.54 miles (out and back)

This was my Friday off from work. It’s been a while since I’ve gone on a real hike. This hike is close to home, my go-to Whole Foods, ice cream parlor, and my new favorite brunch place!

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On the top of the hill enjoying the valley views.

I can only imagine this area looked lush when it rained earlier this year. It was excruciating hot that morning, my dogs kept taking breaks. This was not a long hike by distance but because of the heat, we took our time.

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We descend from the top and head towards an indulgent pile of green tea pancakes!

Hike 30/52 – Studio City River Walk

Date: August 12th
Neighborhood: Studio City
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 1.22 miles (out and back)

I am catching up on all my hikes because currently I am at hike number 38.

This Studio City walkway is behind a large shopping center. It may not be as pretty a hiking through a canyon, but I do appreciate it when large cities create green spaces in busy neighborhoods. They’re great for your mental and physical health and they clean the water and the air. If you need an escape, but are tied up with errands, urban parks are the way to go!

These leaves have the cutest shapes!

Hike 29/52: Palos Verde Nature Preserve

Date: August 5th
Neighborhood: Rancho Palos Verdes
Difficulty: 3 out of 5
Weather: Hot and Humid
Distance: 5.2 miles (out and back)

Rancho Palos Verdes Hike

There are a lot of hiking trails around where we live — we have mountains such as the Santa Monica mountains, San Gabriel, and Verdugos. We have canyons such as Eaton, Fryman, La Tuna, Franklin, and many other nature spaces all within less than an hour drive from our house.

That day, I told my husband I wanted to venture out and I was willing to drive a little bit further from home to hike. So we drive a little more than an hour to hike in the southern end of LA county, South Bay.

Koda makes a couple of appearances.

Rancho Palos Verdes Hike

I love how the trails here lead up to the beach. We were trying to do a loop based on the AllTrails app, but we encountered a few “do not enter” signs when we 75% to closing the loop. Or chances are, we may have been lost. There were other trails branching throughout the park… And there’s nothing wrong with doing a little exploring. I like the park, but it’s far from our house so I am not sure when we will be back.

While we were in South Bay, we explored the neighborhoods. If only our jobs were in this area, we’d live here. It’s got better weather because it’s near the beach, but without the bustle, noise, and crowds like in Santa Monica or Culver City.

Rancho Palos Verdes Hike

Hike 29/52: Evening around our local park

Date: August 4th
Neighborhood: Lake Balboa
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Weather: Cool
Distance: 1.3 miles (loop)

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To our dear puppies, Teddy and Koda,

It’s been a while since we’ve taken you out on a walk. Last time we were outside you were on the bike stroller and I did the pedaling. I am sorry we have not gone on a lot of hikes this summer. Its been very hot and we don’t want you to burn your paws — or worse, heat stroke.

We’ve got less than one month until our friends camping trip. Maybe a good place to start is an evening walk in our local park in Lake Balboa. It’s close by where we can go after our jobs and we’ll still have the last few minutes of sunlight.

Anyways, let’s return to getting you two back to tip-top hiking condition!

Love, your humans,

J and K

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Hike 27/52: Biking along the beach

Date: July 15th
Neighborhood: Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice Beach
Difficulty: 2 out of 5 (on a bike)
Weather: Cool, breezy
Distance: 13.5 miles (out and back)

Pacific Palisades

Saturday morning was a perfect morning to go on a bike ride along the beach. We started biking at 8 AM with friends to find the beaches were mostly empty. I barely recognized these beaches. I am use to seeing mobs of people filling up the beach when I go to Santa Monica or when I drive along the PCH. I am use to seeing the crowds gather all on the curb to the point of spilling a few people over to just cross the street. This time was different.

Pacific Palisades

Pacific Palisades

Why did I decide to bike along the beach? Maybe a change of scenery. A change of weather. The last two weekends, we’ve lived through 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather (37 degree Celsius). A 20 degree Fahrenheit difference is a short drive away from us.

Venice Beach

I know you can’t tell from this picture, but this is Venice Beach. Again almost no one there. We ended our ride at Venice Beach and had brunch. The crowds I recognized were starting to build up and we biked back to our cars and I experienced my first taste of “bike traffic”.

I’d like to come back and bike another stretch of this bike trail. Apparently it runs 40 miles long one-way. We’ve only biked about less than 7 miles of this path. Until next time.

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Hike 26/52: A Cove in your Backyard

Date: July 2nd
Neighborhood: Lake Nacimento
Difficulty: 5 out of 5 (on a bike)
Weather: Hot
Distance: 2 miles (out and back)

This was a tough bike ride. We found a path behind the lake house and decided to go as far as we can and discovered another way to get to the lake.

What made the ride tough was riding up the hill — it was up, up, up. I confess, I gave up and walked up the hill almost all the way back to the house. It did not make things easier having a trailer with the puppies. That’s easily an additional 50 lbs.

Also, watch out for red ants!

And also, don’t drink mimosas before riding a bicycle in the heat. 

Hike 25/52 – Exploring around the Lake House

Date: July 1st
Neighborhood: Lake Nacimento
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Weather: Hot
Distance: 1 miles (out and back)

During the 4th of July weekend, we stayed at our friend’s parent’s lake house in Paso Robles. It’s nice…and it’s in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception unless you have an extender.

I decided to spend the afternoon to walk around their property and walk as far as I can along the dirt road until I say a sign to stop. It does not take me very far going down the dirt road.

Of course the puppies came along!


The vacation house was very nice and well…enormous. It made me think, “would I ever have a vacation house myself?” Most likely not. Why would I go to the same vacation home every long holiday weekend. If I needed to be home, I’d stay home for a stay-cation. For travel, I’d like to think AirBnB gives me access to vacation homes all around the world. Ideally, I’d like to spend my long holidays elsewhere to try out a different scenery, a different pace of life temporarily. What I love about AirBnB is that I get a small piece of “day-in-the-life” elsewhere that I would never get in a hotel full of concierge services and contintental breakfast.

Would you consider getting a vacation home yourself?