Realistic expectations on and off the trail

Exceeding expectations is great. I remember hikes when I was bursting with energy and hiked far beyond what I planned–reaching the peak and then exploring down the other side before turning back.

Shorty peakThen there are those days when I know it won’t be easy. A total lack of energy after a mile brings the hard decision to push myself or turn back and try another day. Sometimes I push myself because forward is the only way to go (like backpacking to a reserved campsite) and other days I turn back to the trailhead.

Being realistic about our expectations can make a hike more enjoyable. As much as I want to reach a destination, some days it isn’t feasible. I remember wanting to make it to the highest point in the county one spring day but the warm sunshine was softening the snow. Instead of turning the hike into a long slog through mushy snow we climbed the ridge above Trout Lake and found a colony of ladybugs basking on an exposed rock. A good decision.

Now with an active toddler and a baby, my hiking expectations have drastically changed. While reaching a destination is nice, I have come to the realization that keeping the hike fun is more important–even if we only go a quarter of a mile.

Setting realistic expectations goes beyond hiking. We can’t do everything–though it would be nice. So I’ve decided to take a break from writing my outdoor column. The newborn stage is short and I want to devote as much time as I can to my newborn and toddler during this time–including exploring outside.

The decision was hard to make since I have enjoyed sharing my outdoor explorations and discoveries with everyone every week since December 2011 (and sporadically before that). I’m not sure how long the break will be–I have to be realistic about how much time I will have to research and write a weekly column.

I want to thank everyone for your kind words, encouragement and suggestions over the years. Enjoy the outdoors!

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