I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions as such. Mostly I think that if there’s something you want to do, then you should go ahead and get started already. That may mean the very tiniest of steps! It may not look anything at all from the outside like meaningful pursuit of your end goal. But for me, it’s both important and motivating to take concrete action. I can (and if I allow it, will) plan endlessly. Movement matters.
But I do love the symbolism of the holiday with its the arbitrary turning of the page and its invitation to reassess and reaffirm. In that spirit, here are my relevant-to-this-blog intentions for 2017.
1) Return to the New Hampshire 4,000 footers. What with one thing and another, I’ve drifted away from the higher peaks. Note that the focus here is hiking these mountains and reminding myself that I can, not necessarily checking off the list. Just climb Tecumseh a couple of times would count. That would be very silly of me, but it would totally count.
2) Sleep outdoors three times. I miss backpacking, you guys. This is not a backpacking goal. I think Titus will be ready to sleep in or outside my tent without eating my sleeping bag this year, but I don’t know that for sure. I want to leave myself room for car-camping with his soft crate to feel like a worthwhile thing. But yes: tent, sleeping bag, dogs, outside. Go.
3) Work on the paw-protection puzzle. We’ve done well thus far with bare paws most of the year, Musher’s Secret in winter, and rare occasions of minor on-trail first-aid. Lilo would appreciate a bit more protection for even just local walks on very cold days, though. Titus lost most (all?) of his paw conditioning during his layup. And there is a lot of rock in this state, yo. I would feel more comfortable with a set of boots in my pack. We’ve already started the proof-of-concept testing with a loaner set from Paws of Peaks. Now that I know that Lilo doesn’t mind wearing boots, I’m ready to start trying to find her the right fit. For Titus’s part, our initial work will be just the ongoing effort in increasing his comfort in having his paws handled at all.
4) Hike in Vermont, New York, and/or Maine. I really love New Hampshire, but our nearby states are full of equally scenic and interesting trails. I want to continue to expand my adventures and explore new-to-me options outside of what has become my geographic comfort zone. I have a few ideas already; I look forward to coming up with more and then following through!
5) Train each dog in public once per week. I take a lot of pride in having well-trained good-citizen dogs. They’re easier to work and live with. Both of mine really get a kick out of training. And I am also very vain; I find it very reinforcing to present a flashy heel or fast recall. But we’ve fallen off the training wagon since Titus’s injury to the extent that I’ve been writing a blog post in my head titled “On Having the Bad Dogs on Trail.” It’s time to knock off the rust, including confirming that our work holds up in the real world. What this effort looks like will vary by dog, day, and context, but the point is that I want to reestablish the habit of doing more than just hiking and noodling at home.
6) Invite the possibility of new hiking buddies on four separate occasions. I’m an introvert who likes people. This is sometimes a problem. I really enjoy solo hiking. Under most circumstances I have no reservations about soloing, especially with a dog or two along. But I also really enjoy hiking with good company and there are certain situations — winter hiking along remote and/or high-elevation routes in particular — where it’s just smarter to have (the right) companion. And I can get a little weird in my head about the tap dance of making new friends. So this goal is in service of getting a little more practice in finding hiking buddies. The invitation is what counts. The outcome will be whatever it is and that’s fine; I just have to put myself out there enough to ask.
(For an actual write-up of the hike behind these pictures, please visit Paws on Peaks.)