bamboo forestAs we say a warm bon voyage to 2013 and welcome the new year, many of us are proudly proclaiming our goals for 2014. Normally, I’m not one to get caught up in seasonal events such as Sweetest Day, or New Year’s resolutions, but as I looked back on my outdoor experiences over the past year, and throughout my life, I decided to create a few of my own goals for 2014. I’d like to share them with you today, in hopes that they may inspire a few of you to challenge yourself in different ways on the trail this year.

Try Something New

I know it sounds like one of your typical New Year’s resolutions, but there’s a reason why trying something new is such a common goal for people: it’s fun. You can add a whole new layer to your enjoyment of the outdoors by adding a new activity or learning how to do something new to the mix. For instance, I love winter hiking, but I’ve been thinking about trying cross country skiing this winter, just to mix it up a bit. This year I also might learn how to rock climb, which I’ve always wanted to try. You’d be surprised at how your favorite trails or locations can take on a fresh look when you experience them in the midst of a fresh, new activity.

Visit More Out-of-State/Country Parks and Trails

While we all have our favorite local parks and trails that we frequent during morning runs or afternoon hikes throughout the year, this country—and the world—is rich with beautiful and exciting sights and lands to discover, if only we’re willing to seek them out. In the past few years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel more and experience places such as Honduras, Canada’s Bruce Peninsula, and Haiti, but I also have a long list of places I’d like to visit in my life. My list includes locations in the US, such as the legendary AT, sharing Isle Royale with its wolves for a spell, and hiking the massive mountainous trails of Hawaii, but also faraway destinations like the Australian Outback, Machu Picchu, and the Bamboo Grove in Japan.

Give Something Back

As a lover of the outdoors—and as a human being—I feel we’ve been tasked with the responsibility to preserve, nurture, and maintain the environment. To do that, we can volunteer to clean up parks and trails, sign up for specific projects aimed to restore neglected or damaged areas of a local park or specific region, or even donate to organizations. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now is organize and lead an outdoors group for the teens and middle school students at my church, through which I hope to teach them the importance of being good stewards of the planet, but also helpful outdoor skills, while having fun. You, too, can show your love for nature by extending that love to future generations and doing your part to help preserve the environment this year! It doesn’t take a lot, it just takes a lot of us.