Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Build a Backpacking and Hiking Bucket List

Recently, I was at a wedding in my home town.

  "How are things in California?  Are you enjoying it out there?" a woman asked, one of my lifetime friends' wives.  It didn't take a minute before I was talking about some mountain, island, or desert hike.
Her husband, (my good friend), walked up, rolled his eyes and said, "God, is he talking about camping and hiking again!?" before turning and walking away.

  This is one of the side effects of my recent obsession, but the truth is I am not on the trail anywhere as much as I would like to be.  Don't get me wrong,  I love it.  I watch DIY YouTube videos and gear reviews.  I am constantly going to Sierra Trading Post, REI gear sales, ebay, craigslist, and other places to build up my gear.  However, for as much time and energy as I spend on the hobby, I don't camp and backpack as much as I would like to.  The reason?  Poor planning.

Why Use a Bucket List?
There was a quote I saw once from Alice in Wonderland that always stuck with me (Pulled from Good Reads).

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

From a business perspective, I would always think about this when we were moving forward with something without a goal.  In our personal lives, setting goals, creating lists, and having the discipline to stay on track is just as important but often overlooked.

For this reason, here is my bucket list from 2013 & 2014

Below is how you can take control and develop your own "bucket list":

Assess Your Interests

When I first started hiking, I was interested in:
- temperate weather
- short hikes
- drive to my camp spot
- set up a spacious tent
- hang out by the fire or playing Bag-O/Cornhole

Staying in one place and enjoying some good barbecue with a beer was the whole point.  Who wants to walk for miles, sweat profusely, and then come right back to camp?

Then I hiked Petit Jean Park in Arkansas (same place as referenced by the vengeful little girl in the modern True Grit).  It was hot & humid.  I didn't have the correct hiking boots.  My camera was causing marks which my wife would later inspect suspiciously.  I arrived at these large rocks called Turtle Rocks.  They are huge, turtle-shell-like boulders you can climb onto and see the entire park.  The awe of seeing the trees covering the Ozark Mountains below a bright blue sky taught me to appreciate the subtle rewards and appreciation the work it took to get there.

As I upgraded my gear, my perceptions changed:

  • Day hikes were replaced with backpacking
  • Forests changed to Mountains, and eventually Joshua Tree National park and the AZ Red Rock Mountains taught me to love the desert 
  • Hikes in the rain in AR and snow camping in the LA Mountains taught me the weather didn't have to be perfect to enjoy my time.

My point is to try new things and keep an open mind.  You'll be surprised how quickly you can change your initial perceptions.

Assess Your Shape
How many miles can you handle?  How much of a "gain", or increase in elevation?  Regardless, you need to consider conditioning hikes.  Many people do a variety of conditioning hikes with various "gain" increases and decreases to prepare their body.  This is the most enjoyable way to prepare yourself.  Chris Willet has some great conditioning tips on the attached thread.  Look for his post on 03-16-2006.

Do Your Research, Build a Bucket List
Develop a list of the places you would like to visit.  You can find some great sources online.  One thing I like to do is to go to Meetup.com and join different camping groups.  I haven't had a bad experience yet on one of these trips and have met a lot of knowledgeable people.  If you are not convinced, you can always join the groups and read some of the reviews on past hikes.  Keep tuned for future blog posts on how to read TOPO Maps.

Here are some other great sites:
- www.alltrails.com
- www.backpacker.com and Trible Outdoors have some great map features
- Google Maps' TOPO maps have gotten significantly better

Here are some great California links:
http://socalhiker.net/ - This is my favorite site.  +Jeff Hester provides some great detail on his reviews

Put it on the Calendar
Once you make your bucket list - schedule it!  I prefer Google Calendar.  I found it worth the time (and money if necessary) to invest in an app that allows you to invite others to share event calendars.   I use this with my wife so we can sync our calendars across multiple devices.  Meetup.com has a link to add it to your Google calendar.

Take Notes
Once you have gone on the trip,  take notes and record your trip details!  Many photo appsallow you to turn on your GPS and add geotags so you can actually mark where you traveled or where on the trail you took the picture.

Here are my favorite apps:

  • Android systems has been Camera360 due to its ability to manage libraries as well as create photo collages.  
  • For editing, I have found Pixlr Express is easier to use, has every function I could find in other apps that I liked, and actually had more features then Adobe's #Photoshop Express for the Android system.  
  • Evernote allows you to take pictures, capture GEO tags, and write, or there is always the old fashion small notebook.

What are your favorite hikes that you plan to return to?
What is on your bucket list for this year?  What about in upcoming years?
If you use your phone for pictures and notes, how do you do it?