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When Michelle Bernstein-Schultz’s 6-year-old son, Blaine, said that he wanted to “climb so high,” the Mesa mom strapped him on her back and embarked on a harrowing hiking journey: the 52 Hike Challenge, a global program that encourages people to enhance their well-being by hiking once per week for an entire year (52hikechallenge.com).
“I [had] spiraled into a place where I was struggling to get out of bed,” Bernstein-Schultz says of life before the challenge. “I needed something to get me out of my funk, and this challenge provided that for me. I made it a point to try and get out of the house each week and hike.”
Blaine, who is living with epilepsy and a rare condition called Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, has been her primary motivator. “My son has a personal goal to see every national park in the United States,” Bernstein-Schultz says. “Other hikes were chosen because we wanted to see certain things [like] Piestewa Peak. Another time he wanted to see a waterfall, so we went to Massacre Grounds [in the Superstition Mountains].”
Even with the added challenge of carrying a 50-pound child in a back carrier, Bernstein-Schultz stayed the course, finishing the challenge in six months. Ultimately, they hiked 119 trails in 2017, including one that stood out for its healing powers. “I had received some bad medical news and I just wanted to hide from the world. I convinced myself to drive to Sedona and hike Devil’s Bridge. It was such a powerful hike. The trail was covered in tears, but I felt brand new when I was done.”
Michelle and Blaine continue to hit the trails regularly. Follow their adventures on social media @TriumphOnTrails.
IF YOU GO
Devil’s Bridge Trail
LENGTH: 4 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: 4,239-5,000 feet
GETTING THERE: The trail is accessible via a 4×4 road or from several sedan-friendly trailheads, including Mescal Trailhead. From the State Route 179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, go 3 miles west on 89A (left, toward Cottonwood) to Dry Creek Road (FR 152C), turn right and continue 2.9 miles to Long Canyon Road (FR 152D), turn right and go 0.2-mile to the trailhead on the right. Hike 0.2-mile east on the Mescal Trail to Chuckwagon Trail, veer left, hike 1 mile, cross Dry Creek Road and follow the Devil’s Bridge Trail 0.8-mile to the arch.
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