2013 Goal: Take 75 hikes I’ve never taken before.

At the end of 2012, I wrote “I will be setting exploration goals that will help me explore more areas, thus ensuring a better variety of experience.” To that end, I determined that I would take 75 hikes that I had never taken before. In some instances, this meant that I would hike places I had never before been to or seen. I also made the allowance that I could count a hike that included a portion of something I had hiked before. I also stated that I would include a hike that I had taken before, but only if the conditions were dramatically different, such as snowshoeing in Giant Forest.

On December 5th, 2013, I met that goal when I took my 75th, 76th, and 77th brand new hikes. Through the year, brand new hikes have comprised over half of the hikes I have taken, which has ensured a general lack of repetition in the hikes I’ve taken. It has also ensured that I’ve seen more of Southern California (as well as Hawaii, Arizona, and Central California) that I knew existed. While it is easy to quantify the amount of hikes taken, it is difficult to quantify the value of so many varied experiences. I saw a lot of things this year.

What I’ve learned is that a goal is really just a tentpole to hang an adventure, or a series of adventures upon. For instance, last year I hiked over 1,000 miles. The number 1,000 is entirely arbitrary and was chosen because it’s a large number that sounds relatively large. Most people consider 5 miles to be a good sized hike, so 1,000 miles of hiking must be impressive indeed. 1,000 miles in 12 months is impressive, at least until compared to a person who through hikes all 2,650 miles of the PCT in 3 months. What mattered about the 1,000 miles was that it drove me to do things I would not have done otherwise. It also led me to reap the benefits of experience, exercise, and of having a story that I would not have had otherwise. 

Therefore, a goal is simply and excuse to experience a lot of things that you wouldn’t otherwise experience. A goal is also a reason to get up and do things. In order to reach a goal, work, planning, and execution must occur. These three factors tend to create momentum and then inertia, which results in changes to lifestyle. Three years ago, before I got really into hiking, I essentially worked, played some music, and cannot account for the rest of my time. Having set goals and reached them, I find that I can account for most of the time, and I have a story to tell. The goal itself is not the thing. After all, 1,000 miles or 75 only means something if we say it does. The story, however, is what really matters. With the story, it’s easier to look at a life and say, “Yes, that is what this was about.” This can be done without setting goals, I suppose. However, I’m learning that striving for something, whether it’s arbitrary or not, is what will leave me with the most stories to tell at the end of the day.

So, now I have a story in which I have criss-crossed several different counties over the southern part of the state, with occasional forays into other regions. I’ve gone to places that were just up the road. I’ve gone to places thousands of miles away. Every step of the way, I discover landscapes that were both familiar and brand new. The experience helped keep everything fresh and invigorating, while ensuring that I would continue to have reasons to move forward.

In the end, setting goals is about spending the finite resource that is your life wisely. Without the structure that a goal provides, people tend to flounder or flutter in the breeze. Later on, we’ll find that we can’t account for where the time went or for what we were doing. With a goal, we know where we are going and afterward can say exactly where we went. In the process, we enrich every aspect of our life, which provides enormous secondary benefits in just about every aspect

I expect I’ll be putting out goals for 2014 soon, and for every year afterward. In the meantime, here is the list of every new hike I took this year, with links to the write-ups.

*Note: Actually, my 75th hike occurred at Split Mountain. I omitted two hikes in my list of new hikes that I didn’t find until after I had included and linked everything on this list. 

* Also note: not all the new hikes were blogged. 

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