2014: Plan Your Wild Adventures
This is one of our favorite times of year, when we reflect on all the mountains we climbed, the trails we helped build and the great nights spent under the stars with friends and family. All that reflection is almost as good as starting to plan the coming year of hiking.
Not sure what you'd like your hiking goal to be? Maybe the list below will spur a few ideas.
Set a hiking goal
Set a number of hikes as your goal. Get out on a trail once a month, or if you're more ambitious, once a week.
Set a mileage goal. On facebook, Christopher Osborn said: My goal each year is to hike at least 100 miles and I hiked 118 this year. I'm thinking about adding an elevation goal next year.
Set an elevation goal. Trip reporter and volunteer, Nutmeg, recently completed 100,000 feet of vertical gain on her 2013 hikes, and we heard from several other hikers who use the same goal.
Need some more inspiration? Look to the Hike-a-Thon hall of fame for more ideas about the kind of goals you might want to set, from hiking to alpine lakes to hiking during the week.
Nights under the stars
Take your kid backpacking for the first time. Even if everything doesn't go smoothly, it will be a trip to remember. Have a baby? Get them started young (read this for some tips and inspiration).
Spend a week, or a month under the stars. This year, one of our staffers tried to spend 10 percent (or 36 nights) out under the stars. She didn't quite reach her goal, but she did manage to catch some incredible meteor showers and spend some quality time outside as a result of trying. Tip: signing up for a Volunteer Vacation or volunteer trip is a great way to up the number of your nights outside.
Tackle an epic trail
Hike a classic. Try to get to one of these quintessential Washington destinations.
Epic, as in, Hobbits. Try one of these Hobbit hikes.
We will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in 2014. With 31 unique wilderness areas, Washington state holds some of the most spectacular wild places in the United States. WTA will help you celebrate this special anniversary by showcasing trails you can explore in Washington's amazing wilderness.
Learn a new skill
Want to learn more about first aid or Leave No Trace principles? Whether you want to improve your map and compass skills, volunteer on trail with WTA, or take a course with The Mountaineers or REI, there is no shortage of opportunities to pick up a new skill in 2014.
Project: trip report
If you feel up for a challenge, try finding trails in the Hiking Guide without any recent Trip Reports and hiking them. Report back to the entire community of hikers on the trail conditions and trip highlights.
Check out state parks
Washington State Parks are all over the state and feature some incredible hiking. Start the year hiking in one, and see how many you can visit by year's end. You can even get started by exploring the 100+ parks open in winter.
Give a trail some TLC
Once you've spent a day (or five) building or maintaining a trail with WTA, you'll gain an appreciation for every step you take on your hikes. Meet some great folks, learn a few new things and have fun with us on trail next year.
Share your plans
What hikes are you determined to do? What's your personal or family outdoor challenge for 2014? Tell us your plans in the comments below. If you haven't settled on any plans just yet, tell us what topics or kind of hikes you'd like to see featured this year. Whatever you're looking for, WTA will help you find it.