Map out your new year adventurous resolutions.
When the New Year rolls around, most folks resolve to do things like lose weight, exercise more, or quit procrastinating. But, if you love the outdoors, why not pursue a goal that’s more adventurous? Whether you want to take up a new sport, learn a new skill or push your limits physically, you’ll find a ton of opportunities in Alabama to experience the outdoors in a new way and make the most of 2018. As you map out your new year, keep in mind that a resolution or goal doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking, like a multi-week hike or a foray into Class V rapids. The whole point is to just broaden your horizons. To help you plan an adventurous 2018, we’ve highlighted 10 goals that suit a variety of skill levels and experience.
Join the Club
If you’ve never paddled a kayak or climbed outdoors, you might find it difficult to take up these sports. Or, you might be hesitant to hike trails in an area that you’ve never visited. If you’re tackling something for the first time, consider joining a recreation group, so you can lean on people who are experienced. Groups like BUTS (Birmingham Ultra Trail Society), WAMBA (West Alabama Mountain Biking Association), and the Huntsville Canoe Club hit the trail or river together, and they also host trail clean up days and other activities. While it can be intimidating to join a group, you’ll gain a great deal by overcoming your fears. First, you’ll have opportunities to meet like-minded people and create new friendships. As you travel with the group, you’ll develop a camaraderie that makes experiences even more meaningful. Plus, your fellow adventurers will have the inside scoop on certain destinations, and they’ll share some hidden gems.
Try Something New
Nothing stimulates the mind and body like taking on a new challenge or leaning a new skill. Always wanted to learn to rock climb? Head over to Birmingham Boulders and take their intro courses to make it easy. Ready to take on Alabama’s rapids? Whitewater Alabama in Phenix City has you covered. Opportunities abound, just pick an adventure and set the date.
Is there a better resolution than to ensure that the natural resources we love to explore will be intact for future generations? If you join a recreation group, you can participate in their clean-up events. Also, consider supporting organizations like the Black Warrior Riverkeeper and the Alabama Rivers Alliance that promote conservation efforts across the state.
Take a Photography Class
We all love to document our adventures. Make 2018 the year you explore the art of photography and the subtleties of capturing a perfect wildlife or landscape shot. You can take an online photography course, join a photography meetup group in your town, or take a course offered by a local organization, such as a botanical garden center or a community college. Plus, you can check out workshops offered at Cheaha State Park. Just a few simple tips can make all the difference when you snap that shot of a Cahaba Lily or that perfect sunset on Dauphin Island.
Become a Survival Expert
It’s one of those things you’ve always put off. In 2018, make sure that if you are caught in a predicament where survival skills are needed, you’ll have the knowledge to get out safely. Let’s face it, anything can happen in the great outdoors, and you need to be ready. One option is to attend a survival class, or you can find an abundance of guides online that teach basic survival skills. The amount of info may be overwhelming, so start small, and each month pick one skill—like starting a fire from scratch—and practice, practice, practice.
Increasing your knowledge of Alabama’s rich biodiversity will make your experience outdoors that much more meaningful. The Alabama Wildlife Foundation is a spectacular resource, and one way to tackle this is to pick one plant and animal species a month to research. You could learn a lot about Alabama’s salamanders in just 30 minutes. And if you hit the trail with kids, having them identity and search for different species gives them a greater appreciation for the outdoors, while keeping them busy at the same time.
Set a Personal Record
If you ran 318 miles last year, and want to surpass 500 this year, break it down by month so you’ll know exactly what you need to make your goal. You can do the same for any activity, whether it’s canoeing, trail running, or mountain biking. If you don’t have a number for last year, pick your goal for January and best it in February.
Plan One Epic Trip
Get out the calendar and plan that one epic trip that you have always wanted to do. It will challenge you, but that’s why you do it, and fortunately Alabama is full of epic adventures. Make this the year you finally thru-hike the Pinhoti Trail, or if you are an experienced climber, tackle the challenging Little River Canyon.
Enter a Competition
If you have a competitive spirit, Alabama has a wide variety of events for just about any outdoor activity, from mountain biking to bouldering to trail running. For example the Southeastern Trail Series includes seven trail-running races that take place from March to November in the Birmingham area. With each race, the distances and difficulty increase, so beginners can progress to eventually participate in a 50K.
Get Your Gear Squared Away
Christmas is over, and your friends and family just gifted you all the new outdoor gear you needed, right? Probably not, but we suspect you got some good stuff. The New Year is all about starting fresh, while reflecting on previous experiences and improving them for the future. Why should your gear be any different? Break out the day pack or thru-hike bag, take an inventory, and see what works and what doesn’t. Get it ready for that epic trip you already marked on the calendar, or maybe next weekend’s hike with the kids.
Originally written for BCBS of AL.