I first heard of the term “peak bagging” when an old friend of mine started hiking for charity.

Joshua, who still manages the YouTube channel Peakbaggers for Cancer, was my east coast hikin’ counterpart. While I explored the canyons and washes of the Sonoran Desert (fun fact: I used to film all of these hikes when I was a daily vlogger!), Joshua conquered the mountains and valleys of the eastern United States… bagging as many state highpoints as he could muster along the way.

At the time, I simply hiked to pass the time. I was in-between jobs, and getting to know my local trail systems seemed like a much better use of my free time than sitting at home watching Netflix. I wasn’t the fastest hiker, nor was I the most knowledgeable about local fauna, flora, or the overall dangers of hiking alone in the desert. Looking back on it now, with all of the desert critters and reptiles I ran into along the way, I probably dodged some serious bullets.

After three months of hiking every single day, I found myself in the best shape of my entire life. I felt connected to the desert in a way I had never experienced before, and I began thinking about setting some pretty big hiking/fitness goals for myself. But then… it was back to work, back to the ol’ grind, and back to hiking only on the weekends (a) when it was convenient and (b) when I didn’t have other plans.

Over the past three years, hiking has been placed on the back burner.

Now, I find myself in a completely different place in life. This past October marked a monumental moment for me: becoming a mother. My son, Sawyer, has completely transformed my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined possible. Don’t get me wrong: motherhood has its fair share of ups and downs. Sleepless nights, hormonal changes, stress, postpartum anxiety, and body image issues are some of the many obstacles we’ve battled over the past several months…

…but now that life with a newborn seems to be feeling a bit more manageable these days, I’m ready to start taking steps to feel like myself again. And for me, that means hiking.

Dusting off the ol’ goal list from my hiking heyday, here are some major Arizona peaks I plan on bagging in 2018:

  • Humphreys Peak (12,633 ft) – Flagstaff, AZ
  • Mount Baldy (11,420 ft) – Apache County, AZ
  • Mount Graham (10,720 ft) – Safford, AZ
  • Chiricahua Peak (9,796 ft) – Cochise County, AZ
  • Miller Peak (9,466 ft) – Sierra Vista, AZ
  • Mount Wrightson (9,453 ft) – Tucson, AZ
  • Carr Peak (9,200 ft) – Sierra Vista, AZ
  • Mount Lemmon (9,157 ft) – Tucson, AZ
  • Mica Mountain (8,664 ft) – Tucson, AZ
  • Rincon Peak (8,482 ft) – Tucson, AZ

With an extra 20 pounds of baby weight still left to lose and having not hiked substantial mileage or elevation in over a year… this is bound to be an interesting journey.