Since I moved to Oakville over two years ago, I’ve tried to take advantage of the great outdoors as much as I can. It helps that I live so close to Lake Ontario for lovely summer strolls. But I also discovered the Halton Parks, a collection of seven conservation areas along the Niagara Escarpment. A couple of my previous posts talked about my experiences at these parks, such as Hilton Falls and the Nassagaweya Canyon, and my newfound love for hiking. This year, they launched a hiking challenge (or trail running or mountain biking or rock climbing, depending on your sport of choice) called the Halton Parks 150, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. My quest to complete the challenge took over my summer… in a really positive way!
What is the Halton Parks 150 Challenge?
The goal of the challenge is to log a certain number of kilometres completed in the Halton Parks between mid-June and mid-October. For the hiking challenge, that’s 150km over 17 weeks. Definitely doable, but it’s a pretty big commitment, especially if you work full-time through the summer. Once you finish and submit your completed log, they draw for the grand prize: a $500 MEC gift card and a full year family membership to the Halton Parks! (There are also other grand prize options with the same approximate value, but this is the one I’d pick.)
Along the way, there were also social media challenges every couple of weeks. These were pretty simple: post a photo from inside a specified Halton Park with the hashtag #HaltonParks150. Thanks to my Instagram collage of the wooden carvings on the Hide and Seek trail at Crawford Lake, I ended up winning a family membership for the Halton Parks and a $50 MEC gift card!
So was the hiking challenge all about the prizes?
Yes and no. It was definitely motivating to try to win the prizes, especially those mornings when I would have rather slept in. It was also a great excuse when people asked why we were hiking so darn much. But I know that the odds of winning the grand prize must be pretty slim. Lots of families are probably participating, and anyone with a schedule that allows multiple hikes per week would have no problem. Ultimately, it was all about having a big personal goal to achieve.
The best part about this whole experience is that it got me outside enjoying exercise and nature almost every weekend. The fresh air was awesome for my health, both mentally and physically. We were able to tackle longer and more difficult hikes over time. In fact, the Halton Parks 150 hiking challenge made our huge hike at Fundy National Park this summer possible! That day I walked 35k steps on my Fitbit, which is completely unheard of for me. Without all our “training” from the Halton 150, there’s no way we could have pulled it off. We also became known as “the hiking couple”, so that was a fun and unexpected side effect!
When does it end, and what’s next?
There’s one more week left in the challenge! (Full disclosure: I put off writing this post because I wasn’t sure I wanted more competition for the grand prize… Haha, sorry!) Joe and I have already completed the challenge at 157km, but we want to wrap it up with a final hike at Rattlesnake Point on Saturday! There’s also the Fall Into Nature festival at all of the Halton Parks next weekend. At Rattlesnake, there will be kids’ crafts, rock climbing, and a food truck from The Salted Pig. Stop by and join me for the last hike of the Halton Parks 150 hiking challenge!
Will you take part in a hiking challenge next summer (or even this fall)? Let me know — I might have to join you!