I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, but when Oboz asked me to write something from a hiker’s perspective, I was able to come up with a few! See that post below.
This blog has been silent for a while, the biggest reason is that I’m no longer on an epic trip that I’ve been planning for years. In fact, it’s still a bit challenging to be done with the CDT. I have an awesome new job helping to shape the Oregon Desert Trail, like I mentioned before, but I still don’t have the next “big thing” in mind. And now that I hiked the trail “last year” that experience seems farther and farther away every day.
It’s no wonder readjustment is hard. There’s no way you can replicate the energy expended and endorphins released that comes from day after day of hiking. Being in the middle of some of the most incredible wilderness areas on the planet is hard to replicate too when you return to four walls and a stack of bills to pay each month. If anything I should be grateful that I’ve had that experience, so many never know that level of freedom, but it comes with a price. Day to day life has a hard time measuring up to a long distance hike.
rafted & packrafted,
and even ski kayaked.
This winter is the best we have had in years! And we’ve camped. Snow camped, car camped, river camped, and that has been a challenge.
I’m shying away from 15 hours of nighttime in the winter, and the cold! Last weekend we spent New Years Eve trying to sleep in the back of Kirk’s truck in a snow park…brutal with the single digit temperatures. I will still winter camp, but it’s just another level of planning, another level of suffering, and those four walls back home start to look pretty good!
I guess I’ll keep floundering a bit until I have another big goal in front of me. I think working on the ODT is best of all possible things I could be doing right now. I’m immersed in what I love most, and get to draw on all those random outdoor jobs I’ve had over the years. It’s really quite an amazing fit.
In the mean time, here are my hiking resolutions for the New Year. I think I need them this year!
It’s been a busy year of hiking! Making time to get outside and put some miles on my Oboz Lunas was easy this year since I was hiking the Continental Divide Trail, but 2016? There is no long hike on tap for the new year, so now what?
Well, since so many years passed between my last long hike (the Arizona Trail in 2009), I know how hiking can take a back seat to life…you know, things like a job, life in a city, and even facing the fact that your significant other might not like hiking as much as you. So here are a few resolutions I’ve made that will help me keep hiking at the forefront of my year.
1. Walk to Work I’m lucky enough to call Bend, Oregon home, and we’ve had a great snow year so far. But what I’ve realized after shoveling out my car for the 10th time in just over a month is that it’s easier to just walk to work than dig, defrost, and slide on the slick streets. A walk to and from work is a great way to make sure my legs are moving every day, especially when the weather is more conducive to skiing than hiking. A walk to work helps calm my mind…especially this time of year when I’m so busy that all I want to do is curl up on the couch under a warm blanket until spring. A walk to work is another way of saying urban hike!
Sometimes I even find inspiration in my socks.
2. Keep the Backpack Packed Does your backpacking gear get put away for long periods of the year? Even in Central Oregon we have warm, mild spells in the colder months, and I find I’m much more likely to take advantage of a favorable weather window when my pack is prepped and all I need to do is grab enough food for my hike. Put that headlamp, tent, sleeping pad, water bladder, and warm layers in your pack. Better yet? Keep your pack in the house where you are likely to see it regularly. I bet it will call to you and you’ll end up feeling sorry for your gear if it doesn’t get enough love.
3. Shop for Hiking Foods I bought a big box of Ramen dinners the other day. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Ramen at home, but I still can’t get enough on the trail. The companion piece to keeping your pack packed for spontaneous adventures is keeping a stock of backpacking foods in your pantry. I like to have bars, instant oatmeal, and a few meals on hand at all times. Also think beyond your traditional hiking foods. Depending on the length of the trip I sometimes hike out salad, chips and salsa, or even burgers. The key is ease. Ease of walking out the door with everything you need, especially if time is short!
4. Tell Stories and Cultivate those Hiking Friends Since coming back from the Continental Divide Trail this fall I’ve been telling a lot of stories. The result is folks that I didn’t know were interested in backpacking suddenly had an interest. While I enjoy the solitary experience on the trail, it’s awesome to hit the trail with friends, so in the new year I resolve to keep telling stories and make some trips happen with friends. I can’t think of anything better than helping someone discover their love of backpacking.
5. Stay Inspired I like to have a goal in front of me to look forward to. Even though I don’t know when my next long hike will happen, I have a folder on my computer filled with links to other long trails I’d love to hike. I like to say that my favorite trail is the one I haven’t hiked yet, and perusing those websites and planning materials helps to get me through the darker days of winter and long spells between backpacking trips. Stay inspired!
When your beer tells you to go for a hike, listen.
6. Live for the Weekends I used to think “weekend warrior” meant I was a sad desk-bound worker bee, but if I’m smart about it, the weekend can offer the perfect bite-sized trip that could turn my year into a series of adventures. To get the most out of my weekend I often like to get packed up on a Thursday, so when 5 o’clock on Friday hits, all I have to do is pack the car and drive. Your ability to wring the meat out of the weekend is greatly enhanced if you can wake up Saturday morning and simply go. Having an entire day in the wilderness makes the weekend feel much more substantial.
These are just a few ways that I resolve to keep hiking a priority in 2016. The key is making it easy and convenient so you can spend more time outside.