We’re taking some time the last two weeks of the year to get our head together, to regroup, to not have to think too much for a few days. So today, we bring you our year in backpacking condensed down to 165 seconds.
These aren’t all the places we went, but they are a good cross-section: the Appalachian Trail from Max Patch to Hot Springs and also from Carvers Gap to US 19E, Wilson Creek, the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, Rock Castle Gorge in Virginia and the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness. read more
On Tuesday’s GetHiking! New Year’s Day hike, I was struck by how many of the hikers had hiking goals—ambitious ones—for 2019. Vaughn committed to five backpack trips in the first half of the year, and Linda was good for at least three. Deb was booked for an adventure in South Africa, and was planning to visit New Zealand. One hiker planned to complete a section hike of the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
New Year’s Day is filled with hope, and these folks had already taken a first step towardseeing that hope become reality. Their secret? They’ve made it a habit over the past several years to make plans early, so they didn’t wind up on December 31 thinking, “Where did the year go?”
For a variety of reasons, not all of us excel at planning ahead. Sometimes, we simply don’t know where to start to plan an adventure. Sometimes, we hesitate because we aren’t sure we’re up for the challenge, and sometimes we pick a challenge that may not be realistic, at least in the way we envision tackling it. Sometimes, we aren’t even sure what it is we want to do. Here are four thoughts on how to make 2019 a year to remember:
What’s realistic? You say you want to spend 50 nights in a tent, but is that feasible? What about your other obligations, your family, for instance? Do you have enough time off from work to get 50 nights in? You can quickly derail a goal by setting it, realizing it’s not possible, then abandoning it altogether. Better to set realistic, but still ambitious, expectations. Start with, say, one night a month in a tent.
Where do I want to go? Let’s say one of your goals is to take a weeklong backpack trip. Here are some questions to ask: Where do you want to go? Do you want to go alone? Would you like to go with locals familiar with the area? What season is best? And what specific gear will you need for where you’re going?
I want to experience “the best.” Maybe you want to hike the best trails in the state. So, er, what are the best trails? And by “best” do you mean trails with the best views? The best waterfalls? The best old growth forest? Try to define what’s most appealing to you to find your personal best.
How do I prepare? Here’s a popular goal: Climbing a fourteener—that is, a peak that tops out at 14,000 feet or above (there are 54 in Colorado, prime country for achieving this goal). So ask: Where can I find trails around here that will prepare me for the elevation gains I’ll face? What about the altitude issue — how do I prepare for that? And what’s a good fourteener to start with?