Photo above: Ditch the car, walk to work! All images: Renee Patrick
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. What are some of your resolutions?
Renee “She-ra” Patrick is the trail coordinator for the Oregon Desert Trail in Bend, OR, a freelance writer and graphic designer, and co-owner/founder of hikertrash (stuff for hikers). The 2015 CDT was her 8th long distance hike, read about her trip on her blog, www.sherahikes.wordpress.com.