Last winter my husband and I were dreaming of summer and making plans for the warm months to come. I mentioned that we had camped 12 nights the year before, and thought we should do more this year.  He threw out a number: how about 20 nights?

Later that fall, as we packed the kids and all our gear up after our 21st night out camping, we felt like celebrating.  We actually did it!

I credit our success to two simple actions that, at the time, we had no idea would have such an impact.

1.  We verbally set a goal.

Dreams for the New YearWhen my husband threw out the number “20” in our brief conversation, it stuck, floating around in the back of our minds all year.  It spurred us to commit to a weekend out when we were waffling, and encouraged us to nail down dates and places when we might have otherwise just stayed home.  We weren’t obsessive about it, but that intention – simply verbalized, never written down – pushed us onward all year.

2.  We made a list.

The other part of our success I attribute to The List.  Turns out cold, dark winter days are the perfect time to begin dreaming about summer!  I made a list of all the places we wanted to go.  It was impossibly long.  I checked out travel guides, thumbed through books and magazine articles, and searched the internet for “must see” places in our region.  I listed all those destinations, jotting down notes about the best season to visit, opening and closing dates of campgrounds, or trails to hike nearby.  

The List, scribbled in a notebook, became our travel guide for the year!  We could never use the excuse “we don’t know where to go” because we knew our options.  We made it to some places on our list, and to some that weren’t on there.  But that’s okay – it wasn’t meant to be a rigid schedule, but an inspiration.

So what are you dreaming about accomplishing outdoors next year?  Do you want to hike with your kids every weekend?  Bike two Saturdays of every month?  Spend a month of your year sleeping outside in a tent?  Whatever it is, long winter evenings are the perfect time for dreaming, verbalizing, and planning for 2016!

Alana Dimmick is the branch lead for Hike It Baby Eatonville. She is wife to a park ranger, and full time mom to Eli (6), Riley (4), and Isaac (3 months). Alana currently lives in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.


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