The Year of Big Ideas

I recently stumbled upon a folder on my computer where I used to stash ambitious lists of trips I’d hoped to pull off in the coming year. One of them, a tally of adventures I optimistically believed I had a chance of accomplishing in 2011, caught my eye. Especially since in 2011 I had a full-time job, some freelance gigs, and was recently married to someone who was not yet aware of any of these impending escapades.  

To say that the list of 25+ trip goals was incredibly unattainable is an understatement, although, to my credit, those lists were always intentionally aspirational, leaving plenty of fodder for the following years. Here’s a little sample: backcountry ski the Wallowas, Kootenay Pass, and Whitewater; backpack the length of the Selkirk Crest and Cabinet Mountain Wilderness (with climbing gear); finally climb Chimney Rock; kayak the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Owyhee rivers; fast hike the northern half of the Washington section of the PCT; take a mountain biking and canyoneering trip to Utah; bikepack the back roads from Spokane to Selway Falls; spring ski along Idaho’s Magruder Corridor and then hike down to the Salmon River; hike the whole Kettle Crest in one day; travel to South America; and more amazing, dreamy insanity, some of which I’ve still not found the time to do.  

I borrowed the idea of scribbling down such adventure hopes each year from The Dirtbag Diaries podcast, which started putting out an annual Year of Big Ideas episode for the new year in 2008. I always found these lists shared by Dirtbag Diaries listeners that ranged from extreme outdoor objectives to career and family goals and personal development wishes to be exhilarating, inspiring, and sometimes amusing. This year, I started wondering what sort of big ideas our Out There contributors might have in mind for 2023 and decided to borrow the idea from one of my favorite podcasts and ask some of our writers for their list of big ideas:  

Ammi Midstokke: I live for New Year’s and intention setting (I may be a bit Type A). 2023 plans are to move 2023 human-powered miles and to leave my clinical practice in the honorable pursuit of full-time writing! Other adventures: A writing retreat in Tuscany, guiding a wilderness writing retreat in Yellowstone, and finishing a second book! 

Justin Short: I’m eyeballing the BC Epic 1,000 bikepacking race in late June, fueling myself entirely on poutine. And then, to recover, my wife Lynn and I are going bikepacking for two weeks around England, for which I’ll be fueling myself entirely on fish n’ chips. Unless we end up in Scotland, then it’s haggis all the way.  

Lisa Laughlin: I’m in an intense season of life as a stay-at-home mom to a 3-year-old and 8-month-old while still working as a writer and editor. My big idea for 2023 is to go small. I want to put away the to-do list (it’s always there) to be present with my kids, take tech breaks for sanity (bye, Apple watch), and keep a daily, one-sentence journal on something I’ve observed in the natural world. Oh, and hit up long-distance trail running (those luxurious solo hours!) after four years of being either pregnant or breastfeeding. 

I have my own growing list of new year exploits to contend with, but I’m holding out hope to slow things down in 2023. Just reading my 2011 list of big ideas again gets me riled up, and while part of me would love to spend the new year on one adventure after another, my goals for this trip around the sun are simpler yet no less rewarding: To frequent our local trails, lakes, and rivers more in between long-neglected home and yard renovation projects. To hike and bike more with my family and work just enough that whenever my son asks me to play with him I do. Here’s to a year of big ideas wherever they may take us. // 

Derrick Knowles, Publisher 

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