"It felt pretty awesome just to have completed the challenge," Phil Baker said. "Very freeing in a lot of ways."
The Burlington husband and father-of-one said the idea came last year when his wife Krista was experiencing health issues. After spending a considerable amount of time enjoying Eno River State Park, the Bakers decided to dedicate 2019 to visiting each state park.
"At the end of the day I think it's been great for getting us active and together again," Baker added.
Phil is originally from Colorado and moved to North Carolina from Cheyenne, Wyoming just over 3 years ago.
Throughout his entire life, Phil has been used to the dry heat of the west. He said North Carolina's four seasons have made hiking year-round challenging.
"Adjusting to the humidity here...," is what Phil will tell you the family has had to overcome.
The Bakers started their first hike on Jan. 6 and ended on Nov. 2. Therefore, time management has been paramount.
"Even on those 3-hour drives, if we got up early enough we could still be home early to mid-afternoon. So you had time to wind down from that stuff," Phil added. "So it's in budgeting your time right and planning ahead for it. And just wanting to do it."
If you had to ask the Bakers what their favorite park would be, they'd tell you. Drumroll, please.
"Merchants Mill Pond, Hanging Rock, Stone Mountain, Eno River -- those would be some of the ones at the top of my list," Phil added.
He said in order to make it worthwhile, the family would hike at least one mile per park.