I had a pretty good year of adventure in 2018. I didn’t manage any BIG trips, stayed mostly on the East Coast (with a brief stint in Hawaii), but managed quite a bit of hiking, backpacking, paddling and wandering, and a total of 26 nights spent in a sleeping bag – MOSTLY in a tent, but a few nights without much shelter at all.
Despite all that, I do have some improvements I’d like to make… because there’s always room to improve! I’m sharing in the hope that some of my resolutions resonate with you as well, and become actual goals.
1) Enjoy the Moment
I have a bad habit of being a “completionist”. My kids introduced me to this term, apparently coined by the gaming community – it refers to somebody who tries to complete every goal, every side quest, find every hidden item, solve every puzzle, etc. That is so DEFINITELY me, and not just in video games. I tend to make a list of everything I want to do, which is great for planning, but a side effect is I tend to put a mental checkbox by things I’ve already done. I start getting bored with “local”, not because it’s actually boring – in fact I enjoy seeing changes, seasonal and otherwise, in the same places – but because mentally, I’m thinking about the things I HAVEN’T done and the places I HAVEN’T found. I get stuck with an ever-expanding radius trying to get farther and farther from home, and before you know it I don’t have time to travel to these places AND explore what I want to. So I do less.
I know, it’s a crazy logic trap of my own creation, but it’s how my mind works. So this year, I’m not going to overlook the local opportunities, and capitalize on the easy, the attainable, when possible. Even a two hour walk is better than poring over maps of places I don’t have time to reach.
However, along those lines…
2) Accomplish Two “Big” Trips
I define “big” loosely. Generally, I think of this as a week-ish out, maybe 100 miles with a backpack. But I can be just as happy with a couple nights floating a new river, or thru-hiking a short trail – like, even a 30-mile point to point fills me with a sense of accomplishment. I like the planning and logistics of a successful trip almost as much as the trip itself, so really when I say “big”, I think I mean “new” and requiring some planning. I have a couple long-weekend “thru hikes” in mind that would fit the bill. Whether big or not, I’m hoping to spend at least 30 nights outdoors in 2019.
3) Introduce New People to the Outdoors – and Share
I can cheat a little bit here – I spend a lot of time with Scouts, and so that provides a lot of opportunities to both teach and learn. I also spend time each year working with other volunteer youth programs, and those are typically with people that DON’T spend a lot of time outdoors. But in addition to this, I think many, many adults need the sort of exposure to nature and challenging situations that Scouts experience, and I’d love to share MORE with my own age group. If you’re reading this and want to try something new, hit me up!
4) Keep Learning
I’m always picking up new things. Some is by direct experience (fires and cooking get easier with practice), and much is from sharing with others (see point 3 above). But I also want to make some deliberate effort this year to improve or refresh the skillset. At a MINIMUM, I’ll renew my CPR certification, and refresh my Wilderness First Aid credentials.
5) Improve the Places I Love
I’m an advocate for Leave No Trace practices, so that’s a bare minimum. I typically (but sometimes forget) have an extra garbage bag with me, even on day trips, and pack out a little extra. This year I want to up my game – do some trail maintenance, help with some watershed cleanup, support some crowdsourced science. I don’t have any specifics in mind yet, but it starts with being prepared to leave every place better than I find it.
That’s it! A fairly short list of the overarching objectives. I could delve deeper and list how many miles I want to walk/bike/paddle, how many vertical feet I’d like to climb, and so on, but those are somewhat arbitrary (like my 30 night goal). Really, what I want is to make time for the experiences, treasure them, learn from them, share them with others, and challenge myself in the process. If I can accomplish all that, it will have been a very good year indeed!
Get Out There!