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8 New Year's Resolutions for Your Adventurous Life

Be more adventurous and be your best self in 2017.

By: Jess Fischer + Save to a List

I love New Year's Eve. I'm not entirely sure why, but there's something so exciting to me about continuing life into a brand new year and getting to set some new goals and intentions for yourself. Every year, as a new year draws to a close and a new year is about to begin, I always think about my New Year's resolutions. I'm the type of person that loves writing down a small list of intentions for the New Year whether it be something as simple as "be healthy" or something much more ambitious like "buy a Wrangler." This year I thought in addition to my normal New Year's resolutions I'd make a list of goals for being outdoors. Here it goes:

1. Smile at everyone

Photo: Rachel Davidson

Okay this one might sound a little strange but one of my favorite parts about hiking is that when you're out on the trail almost everyone you pass smiles at you and says hi (unless they're an absolute stick in the mud). After your third smile from a complete stranger wishing you "happy trails" you just get plain happy. For this reason, I want to always remember to smile at people while out on the trail or exploring the outdoors. Sometime I get so caught up in my own head I give a good flat "hey" and keep walking but cracking a smile can do wonders and a few times I've even struck up a conversation with complete strangers but gotten to learn interesting little tidbits about their lives.

2. Speak up about Leave No Trace

This year I encountered people cutting off the trail to make climbing a series of switchbacks faster, innocent hikers throwing banana peels off into the woods somewhere, people finding the softest patch of grass to pitch a tent rather than using a designated camping area, petting wild ponies although they were surrounded by signs asking them not to, etc. In every instance I'd stand there silent (well once we'd pass I'd sound off to my boyfriend) because I didn't want to be that annoying girl who was like "ummmmmm 'xcuse me but you cant do thatttttt." I realize now that I don't really care if I sound annoying because educating people about Leave No Trace is more important than me potentially sounding annoying. Also, maybe they didn't understand the gravity of their actions and because of that I want to try to speak up a little more next year to educate people on the importance of LNT. Maybe have fliers in my backpack I can hand out? Is that too much...?

3. Visit one new state and one new country

Photo: Christin Healey

This is one of my favorite NYE resolutions my boyfriend and I came up with together two years ago. We may not be rollin' in it but when we budget our money well (and plan ahead) we've always been able to do accomplish this goal! It's a really fun travel goal and if you write it down at the beginning of the year you're more inclined to save up. Can't make it out of the country? No problem! Just pick two new states to road trip to. Just live out of a tent, bring a cooler full of food and make it work.

4. Give back, volunteer & stay informed

Have an extra $20? Think about donating it to an organization that focuses on preserving federal lands. Keep up with what bills are moving through DC to harm/help our protected lands and land that needs to be protected and call your representatives to let them know you CARE about that issue. A quick Google search will come up with everyone who represents you where you live so do some research and keep those numbers handy. If you have the time, think about volunteering at a trail clean up. The company I work for makes volunteering at least 8 hours a year mandatory and I think this is a great idea as well. Hold your self accountable to spending an entire work-day's work of time outdoors helping to restore trails or pick up trash. 

5. Try a new outdoor activity

Photo: Jake Young

I stick with the basics. I hike, backpack, camp, fly fish and in the winter (if we even get enough snow here in VA) I snowboard. I've tried rock climbing inside but I've never gone outside and it's something I'd love to do! Same with mountain biking. For some reason I've never just gone and booked a guided excursion to try out some new activities but I really need to. Starting with 2017, this is definitely a New Year's resolution I want to stick to.

6. Bring a trash bag on every hike or adventure

I saw this story awhile ago about a few guys who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and along the way they picked up every piece of trash they could find. They ended up packing out 1,000 lbs of trash off the AT during their journey. That is NUTS. The unfortunate truth is people still careless throw stuff to the side of the trail. A few times I've found myself picking up a few pieces here and there and having to shove them in the sides of my backpack pockets but if I had brought a trash bag it would have been better contained. Also having a rubber glove to pick up things like chewed up apple cores or cigarette butts is a good idea. 

7. Be mindful of others. 

Some people escape to the outdoors for the peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of every day life only to find some dude sucking down a cig a few paces ahead of them on a trail (HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!) or some girl blasting music from a phone for an insta/snap story two feet away from where they're enjoying lunch. Other things that can be super annoying are getting in a photographer's shot or yell-talking to all your friends (no one else cares what Jenny did last night). Because these kinds of things always dampen my mood while I'm trying to enjoy the outdoors, I try to be extremely mindful and respect other peoples spaces and intentions for getting outdoors. Want to have music playing in the background of your insta story? That's totally fine if no one is around you but if they are, walk away and find a spot where you won't be blasting your tunes in someone else's ears. 

8. Have fun!

Photo: Josiah Roe

Stuff doesn't always go as planned, especially when you're planning something in the outdoors. Hikes get rained out, roads get shut down from snow, it actually ends up being about 10 degrees colder than the weather said it would be. Make the best of every situation and try to stay positive through every situation. Getting caught in a torrential downpour with no rain gear might not be the funnest thing but a year later you'll look back and laugh at it as long as you stayed positive through the entire experience. 

Have any other ideas or New Years resolutions you want to share? Comment below!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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