By Sarrah Peters
In 2016, Tami Brooks decided she wanted to hike the Grand Canyon in Arizona. In order to accomplish this, she knew she would need to train, so she started a challenge for herself – she would do 52 hikes in 52 weeks, one a week for a year.
Brooks had no idea that her challenge would end up inspiring others to follow suit.
When she shared her personal hiking challenge with friends in Gadsden, they liked the idea and influenced her to create a Facebook group, called 52 Weeks, 52 Hikes, for the challenge, so they could participate with her.
Soon, people she didn’t know were joining the group, and before long the challenge grew into an international following. Today, about 1,500 belong to the group, representing about 25 different countries.
“It just took on a life of its own,” said Brooks.
Brooks said that not everyone in the group does a hike every week, and that members are encouraged to do what they want, which includes a variety of difficulty levels. The main point is just to encourage people to get out and experience nature. Through the group, Brooks has received messages about the positive impact the hiking group has had on people’s lives. People have shared how hiking has improved their health and fitness and how it has given them a new appreciation for nature.
Brooks also gained a new appreciation for nature through the challenge.
“Before the challenge, I wouldn’t have called myself outdoorsy,” she said. “The United States is so diverse and beautiful. I highly encourage people to get outside.”
While Brooks did the challenge, she hiked a different trail every week, starting with the trail at DeSoto State Park and ending with Gadsden’s own Black Creek Trail system in Noccalula Falls Park, a trail she had a lot of experience with.
“I know those trails like the back of my hand,” said Brooks.
All of Brooks’ training was not in vain. Despite the friend that was going to accompany her having to drop out of the trip shortly beforehand, Brooks traveled solo to the Grand Canyon to accomplish the goal that set everything in motion. Brooks hiked down the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail, stayed at the Phantom Ranch (in a room that John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, who are responsible for the creation of many national parks, once stayed in) and hiked back up the Bright Angel Trail. Brooks said that the trip was amazing and that it sparked a love of traveling by herself.
“It’s just huge,” said Brooks. “You can’t even really see the bottom.”
Because Brooks’ trip was at the beginning of December when she started at the top, there was snow and ice on the ground, but as she traveled down the Grand Canyon, it became dryer and warmer. She said that the terrain was quite varied, ranging from forests to more of a desert environment.
During her hiking journey, Brooks began a blog at tamis-trippin.com, featuring her travels and hikes, which she continues to write about. She is currently working on adapting her blogs into a book about her travels, which she hopes will be available by next spring. She also created a 52 Weeks, 52 Hikes Journal, which is available on amazon.
For more information about the 52 Weeks, 52 Hikes challenge or Brooks’ travels, visit tamis-trippin.com.