To celebrate the start of a new year, Jon and I got away to northern Minnesota to experience the magic of Superior National Forest one last time. I didn’t have my camera and it wasn’t a very long trip, but we snowshoed and explored and laughed. There was a lot of reflection on this past year and about our future.
2016 had been a trying year of life for many reasons. And without nature, wilderness and getting away as often as possible, I don’t know that we would have come out of it okay. But here we are, looking to the next 12 months and totally dazzled by what we are imagining. With great pain comes great change, and this big change coming up is going to be everything we’ve dreamed of.
As someone born and raised in Minnesota, I can say that this state offers so much. I was lucky to have grown up with a true passion and love for everything wild and outside. Which is exactly the way that Minnesota shines. The woods were a playground and the lakes were peace. Four seasons to adventure in were always well spent. The wildlife is magnificent year round. The vastly different temperatures truly have made me comfortable in most conditions. The coldest days and the hottest days are just beautiful days. But I feel that in so many ways, I have outgrown this lovely place. It has prepared me fully to experience a more dramatic landscape.
Driving home after our trip, I felt a calm sadness. It is strange to be leaving a place that you love for the last time. I don’t know when the next time I visit will be, but I know it will be a long time. Will the forest change? Will it still be as wild? I hope so. I hope that it grows and grows and when I return in many years, it will be like visiting an old friend.
Moving forward with 2017, everything feels clean and new. A blank page of a new book.
I plan to accomplish, inspire and grow. I plan to experience mountains and the challenges they bring. With my partner by my side, we are going to adventure like never before. So to kick that all off, I will share some goals for the new year.
Climb 15 14ers. Yep. We plan to waste no time with this. There will be many mountains summited in 2017, but a large scoop of them will be 14ers. It’s the jumpstart we desire in bagging the big ones.
Visit eight or more National Parks. Our park system is absolutely amazing and I am so excited to be able to explore them. They have so much to offer. I plan to revisit some of my favorites and check out many of them that are new to me as well.
Get better at rock climbing. This is obvious. It’s a skill that develops constantly and I am going to be continuing to work on my skills and athleticism. The climbing is nearly endless in my new home state, both outdoor and indoor.
Further my photography and writing career. A problem I often faced in Minnesota is a lack of inspiration, or most of the time, not having time to get to all of the places that inspire me. The most beautiful parts of the state are four hours or longer away, so it’s hard to make time for that on a regular basis. In this coming year that will change. And it’s a very cool opportunity to live in inspiration.
Learn to fish and prepare said fish. This has been a goal for a very long time, but I think this is the year for this new skill to blossom.
I want to meet so many people. I want to meet a tribe of like-minded and good humored mountaineers to learn and create with. I want to make a wide circle of women who are as wild as I am. I want to create a hodge-podge family of fowl-mouthed adventurers who don’t give a fuck about limits and who have wide open minds and hearts.
Aaaand this last one: I want to become who I am more and more. With every passing year I make personal discoveries that surprise me, scare me or delight me. And no matter what these discoveries are, they are something to learn from and carry in my pocket. It’s important to me, as a human; an explorer, a photographer, a writer, a wife, an athlete and a woman- to understand exactly what I am.
Some years are for growing and some years are for fun and joy and play. In 2016, I think I did a ton of growing. It was important and in hindsight, I can appreciate that. And in 2017, I know there will be much growth as well, but I truly believe the joy and play will overwhelm all of my senses and propel me into a growth-year that is nothing but love. So here’s to a fresh new year. Shiney and bright. Where the possibilities are endless and the choices are yours.
“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail.” -John Muir
For the last time, we ordered our coffee from The Duluth Grill. Our up-north sanctuary. The place that felt like home. Our slowww transition place between living outside and going back into the "real world". Where we could smell like...how one smells after days in the wild, and no one would bat an eye. Only bring more coffee and more conversation.