Rather than offer you a set of resolutions for the New Year, here’s a list of questions I hope will prove useful to you as a hiker and backpacker. Happy New Year!
Aircrew Survival Course – May 2010 (Photo credit: WSDOT)
What one item would most to increase the enjoyment of your hikes this year? (New knife, candle lantern, whistle, etc.)
What new outdoor skill would be the most useful to learn this year? (How to build a fire without matches, wilderness first aid, what to do if you’re caught in a snow or lightning storm, etc.)
What familiar trail would you like to explore further? (Side trails off the Appalachian Trail: see my earlier post.)
What are the biggest hurdles you come across when hiking the trail (slow pace, too much pack weight, etc.) and what can you do to surmount them?
How can you improve your physical condition and stamina for better hiking? (Increasing muscle mass, strengthening the legs or body core, cardio workouts.)
What pack items can you leave behind and still enjoy your trips? (Do you need the extra pair of heavy socks, the spare bandana, etc.)
Are you ready for assisting someone should they need help on the trail? (Offering tips and advice for better hiking, giving information about trail conditions, etc.)
What trail, or section of trail, would you like to hike this year that you haven’t hiked before?
Appalachian Trail approaching the summit of Thunderhead Mountain (el. 5,527 feet/1,684 meters) in the Great Smoky Mountains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Are your first-aid skills up-to-date? If not, consider a Red Cross refresher course. Medical expertise in the field benefits not just you but others who might need assistance in a medical emergency.
Is there someone you would like to have as a backpacking partner this year? Invite them on trip to your favorite trail?
Do you need to consider “going solo” on a trip. This will boost your confidence as a backpacker and test your self-reliance.
Do you want to consider joining a hiking or backpacking club to hike with a group of others?
How about joining an organization devoted to the welfare of trails, such as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, American Hiking Society, Green Mountain Club, Appalachian Mountain Club, or Sierra Club?
Memories fade after a hike, even if you have taken great photos. Consider keeping a hiking journal while on the trail, soon after you return home, or start an online blog about your hiking and backpacking adventures.