The New Year is upon us, so time to start making (and committing to) those resolutions.  Here are some ideas for the outdoor enthusiasts, or the burgeoning enthusiasts alike.   But first a tip or two – keep them specific and reachable.  Only 12-20% of resolutions are kept, depending on the study read.

Get outside more and when you do, leave the phone at home! Give your brain a break and take in the fresh air – even if you just go outside for a 15-minute walk.  This allows the blood to move from your butt to the rest of your body.  Leave the distraction at home and you might get a chance to think freely and come up with new, unique ideas such as, “How would I look with that traffic cone on my head.  Wish I had my phone so I could take a picture and post it on Facebook.”

Get even more outside and take a hike or a backpacking trip, and still leave the phone at home! It’s time to get rid of all the distractions and go somewhere lacking all the modern conveniences such as computers, phones, vehicles, bathrooms, running water, etc.  There is nothing more rejuvenating for the body and brain than taking in nature and seeing the world through your own eyes and not through a computer.  Sleep on the ground under the stars (yes, there are still stars).  Take a dip in the nearby creek for your bath (with no soap).  Be silent and listen to the wilderness – you might even catch some wildlife activity.  Not interested in nature – at least it is a great way to exercise and lose some holiday pounds.  Remember, if people couldn’t live without modern conveniences in the past, you would not be here today.

Snow at South Kaibab Trail HeadLearn how to read a map and use a compass. Not much to say here except that you don’t need a GPS to explore the outdoors.

Hire a guide. Whether you want to try something new and adventurous, or you are a seasoned adventurer, hiring a guide is a great investment to teach you some things that can take months upon years to learn if on your own.  A fishing guide can teach you technique, a hiking guide can take you places you would never think to venture, a hunting guide can show you the best places to stalk your prey and any guide can teach you about the history, flora, fauna, geology, etc. about any on the places you go.  Not convinced?  Think of it this way, even the world’s best athletes still have coaches, think of a guide as the same.

Leave it as you found it. When you are out in the wilderness, be diligent about leaving nature as you found it so the next person does not have to see you were there.  Most importantly, refrain from carving “Joe was here” on the nearby tree – no one really cares you were there anyway.  Pack out all trash, even micro-trash such as crumbs and small bits of paper.  If you spill your trail mix, don’t leave it for the wildlife to clean up.  If our food is making the world fat, imagine what it can do to the squirrels (Need evidence? Visit the Grand Canyon to see some of the world’s fattest squirrels).  This includes pits, peels, and seeds.  In some environments, such as the desert, a small orange peel can take more than 6 months to decompose.

Removing Trash From Grand CanyonLeave it better than you found it. Go one step further and pick up after other people.  Yes, you don’t want to be everyone’s mother, but if you take ownership of the wilderness, it won’t feel as arduous to clean up after others.  Additionally, you never want to assume someone else will take care of it.  That kind of apathy does nobody in society any good.  For more tips on leaving no trace, visit the Leave No Trace website.

Volunteer. There are hundreds of programs and organizations geared to preserving and protecting the natural outdoors. Volunteering to clean up trash at a state or national park, assist in a wildlife rehabilitation program, volunteer as a ranger or docent at your local museum, petition to protect some natural land in your own city.  There is much out there and you will find it without much looking. This is just a few of the many ideas.  If you have any, please share with the class. And have a fulfilling 2016!