Leeches and 52 Hike Chanllenge / Sanguijuelas y Reto de 52 Caminatas

Being dedicated and consistent is not an easy task…I’m trying. On one of my previous posts I shared my goals for this year. I want to tell you that I met one of those goals…I’ve completed my 52 hike challenge! 

My finisher medal and trophy made by my husband

Getting ready to start our adventure

Last August, my husband and I, together with other family members, took a backpacking trip to the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota - this is where I finished hike number 52. It was a challenging trip and a challenging goal but I’m glad I did both. I prepared myself throughout the year for this trip, hiking every Saturday and Sunday, and sometimes during the week. At first, the challenge was to do 52 hikes from January through December but later, I decided I wanted to do my last hike on this trip so I pushed myself very hard to achieve that. Let me share part of my experience with you.

Hiking in the Boundary Waters was hard. On our first day, we had to go through overgrown grass that was taller than me. We walked over a beaver dam and climbed rocks. Went over and under fallen trees but the worse part was when we had to cross a leech infested channel that was muddy and dark; we couldn’t see the bottom. Everyone crossed ahead of me carrying their backpack over their shoulders. While I watched, I kept trying to figure out how in the world I was going to do that. Everyone in my group was tall and I’m very short. When they crossed, the water was up to their waist, there was no way I was going to be able to carry my pack through that! Luckily, I have an amazing husband who carried my pack for me. He crossed with his pack first and then came back to get mine; isn’t he awesome? I was so grateful. When I crossed, the water reached my chest and my footing was uneven, the bottom was sandy and rocky. I had to walk slowly, being careful not to lose my balance. It took me what felt was a long time to reach the other end, which was hard as I could see the leeches swimming around trying to crawl on my body. 

Upon reaching the other end of the channel, everyone had to inspect their bodies to remove any leeches. “Check everywhere.” They told me. “And make sure you look in between your toes, leeches like to hide there.” I turned around and saw a guy in our group who had blood coming down his leg, where he had just removed a leech, and I freaked out. I immediately took my shorts off and started inspecting my body all over, I did not care who was looking. I was glad nothing was on me but man, that was some crazy adventure!

After the channel crossing, we reached our first campground where we spent the night. This was an amazing site right next to a lake and we had it all to ourselves! After we rested a little and set our tents up, some in my group went swimming but I just washed myself and sat in the fresh water enjoying the view and solitude of the place. Remember I told you that on our way here we crossed over a beaver dam? While crossing, my foot went down into a hole and I heard a lot of noises, like little chipmunks or something, my niece said those were angry beavers — we never saw them though. But while we were relaxing at this site, there was the beaver, swimming in the lake. It was so cool to see a beaver in the lake! They are so cute, fast swimmers and very hard workers. On our way here we saw signs of the beaver’s hard work. They build incredible dams and have very sharp teeth to chew up big trees with the ferociousness of a giant but they still look cute and cuddly. We enjoyed watching the beaver swim while having our happy hour drinks. 

Day one ended with a cool swim in the lake, laying on our hammocks and having a nice hot meal, it could not have been better. We went to bed tired after a long hard hike but I couldn’t have been happier that hike #51 was done and I only had one more to go to complete my challenge. 


The next morning, we crossed the channel again, we had to! That was the only way out.  This time no one got leeches on their bodies...that was a good thing. We continued hiking about 5 miles to our next campground. This was hike 52 for me. It was hard but exciting! I couldn't wait to finish the challenge and give the girls what I brought for us to celebrate. This trail was not well marked and if it wasn't for the cairns, we could have easily gotten lost. So, my reward was a pair of sterling silver earrings with a cairn engraved on them, hiking earrings if you would, a perfect finishing trophy. I loved them so much that I got a pair for each one of the girls who hike the last trail of my 52 hike challenge with me - they loved them too.

Most of this hike was uphill. It was strenuous and everyone was tired of climbing over and under the fallen trees. This whole trip turned out to be more difficult than we expected, it was a lot of work to get from one campground to another but we were lucky to always find them empty and the sites were expectacular! When we finally got to the site, we set our tents up and then went straight to the lake. Everyone jumped in and, although the water was cold, it felt so great and refreshing. We prepared dinner and celebrated my achievement, of being able to complete the challenge, with a shot of tequila. This was a beautiful spot right in front of the lake! I couldn't have asked for anything else. I went to bed feeling accomplished and very happy, ready to continue with the adventure the next morning.  


The next morning we broke camp and started hiking to our next spot where we spent two nights. This was my favorite part of the trip. We did a lot of relaxing there, a little fishing, some exploring around the area, and a lot of laying on our hammocks and eating good food.

We spent two more days hiking in the Boundary Waters and stayed the last night camping on a spot next to a river. The beautiful sound of its cascading and rushing water was soothing and invigorating. On our last night after dinner, we walked down the trail to a nearby lake and built a warm fire. We drunk coffee and ate cookies next to the fire while we watch the sun disappear behind the lake.

The end of our adventure in the Boundary Waters