HIKERS AIM TO DO 52 TRAILS IN ONE YEAR
As a group of about 20 people trudges through a particularly muddy day along a hiking trail tucked off of Pali Highway, Shannon Leddy shouts ahead, “This is the muddiest this trail has ever been.”
Their destination, a 50-foot waterfall, is about an hour’s trek through bamboo forests and, because of the recent rain, stream crossings. Given the quickly flowing streams, there probably are better days to do this hike. But, as Leddy adds: “More rain means more waterfall.”
The mission began when Leddy and her friend Tom Bouchard, who is leading the pack up front, decided they wanted to hike every weekend. They share a mutual love for the outdoors, and Leddy, who is originally from Carson City, Nev., and has lived on Oahu for four years, found herself repeating the same trails over and over again. So they started the Facebook page, and it took on a life of its own from there.
“Next thing you knew, there were like 100 people in the group and everybody was super stoked,” Leddy says. “People want to go hiking every weekend, but they don’t have the motivation necessarily. When you have a commitment to do 52 hikes in 52 weeks, you have a commitment to keep.
“It has been really fun exploring the island and finding all of these places,” adds Leddy, an administrative assistant for the residency program at Queen’s Medical Center.
Today’s hike is just outside of town, but they’ve been all over the island. They started with some easier ones — Judd Trail and Lanikai Pill-boxes — but they are building their way up to more difficult ones and already have tackled a few longer ones, such as Kealia Trail, Kuliouou and Aiea Loop Trail.
They move along through today’s trail leisurely — 52 Hikes In 52 Weeks is not about completing great physical feats. While Leddy grew up hiking around Lake Tahoe, she says that she’s not that experienced of a hiker — and neither are most of the rest of the group. It’s more of the layperson’s hiking club — a way for them to enjoy the outdoors, but mostly it’s a way to enjoy the camaraderie that happens along the trail.
“We can take our time, take pictures. It’s not necessarily about getting a workout. It’s more about being in nature and being with friends,” Leddy explains.
A majority of the hikers today are connected to Leddy in some way — coworkers, drinking buddies, friends of friends. (She jokes that she’s like the Kevin Bacon of Hawaii.) But there have been a few people who found out about the club through the grapevine (Facebook, mostly) — and in these cases, they welcome outsiders. They have a “more the merrier” mentality, and there are now close to 170 members on the Facebook page.
The members are from diverse backgrounds. Today, there’s a couple of nurses, a photographer, a UH student and Bouchard is a software engineer.
“It’s a bunch of people from all different walks of life, and they might not know each other outside of the hiking, but once they are here, they are all friends because they all love the same thing,” Leddy says.
“I just really love hiking and getting outdoors, and this is a good way to do it — and meet a bunch of cool people,” says Zachary Blair, a pilot from Alaska who moved here two months ago.
For Traci Randolph, the club has been a way for her to overcome her own limitations. Because of joint problems, she thought that she wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the hikes.
But, after living in Hawaii for 10 years and still having so much left to see, she decided she’d take the challenge.
“Some of (the hikes) are physically challenging,” she admits, “but then the view that you get of the island …you remember that it is a beautiful paradise that we live in.”
For more information on 52 Hikes In 52 Weeks, find them on Facebook or check out Leddy’s blog at 52hikesin52weeks.blogspot.com.