Archive for December, 2014

December 31, 2014

#88) Tale of the Lists

I knew I was aiming high when I made this list of my predicted Top ’14 Hikes of ’14. I figured if I missed one, two or three of them – no big deal; I was still going to have a good year on the trails. In fact I did have a good year on the trails, but the actual list bore little resemblance to my bold prediction. In truth, only three hikes on my predicted list (#14, #13 and #5) ended up on my actual list, checking in respectively at #1, #6 and #2. Yes, the one I thought would barely make the cut–Mt. Hawkins–ended up being the best of the year. In addition to those three, I did one from the predicted list that ended up not making the cut and I did a variation on another that I’d originally slotted at #12 that took the #7 spot.

The hikes that rounded out the actual list were no slouches; they included destinations as diverse as Joshua Tree National Park, Santa Barbara, the Angeles National Forest, the high desert, the Santa Rosa Wilderness and the Cuyamaca Mountains of San Diego County. Mitigating circumstances (including the closures for part of the year of Santa Barbara Island and San Miguel Island, two destinations on the original list) were a factor. Still, I can’t help but look at the two lists and feel as if I could have done better.

I believe that the “A” for effort has its place. Pixar’s first rule of storytelling is that you admire a character more for trying than their success. By that measure, for most of my life I would have qualified as an admirable Pixar protagonist. As I look back on this last year however I can’t help but say two words about which I thought I’d forgotten: what if?

What if I’d focused on hiking more for the pure enjoyment instead of thinking about how much traffic writing about it would bring to my website?

What if I’d cut back on drinking and fast food, at least a bit? I basically maintained my weight over the year, but with just a little compromising and discipline I could have easily dropped five or ten pounds which might have helped knock at least a couple of hikes off the list.

What if I’d turned off my phone each night, leading to better sleep, leading to an easier time getting up in the morning?

What if I hadn’t been afraid of trying the more difficult hikes on the list and being unable to complete them?

What if I had taken the energy wasted on resentment I still harbor toward people who have wronged me before but have been out of my life for years and used it to make the hikes happen?

The good news is that I now have an opportunity–namely the year 2015–to find out. Ultimately the hikes are just trophies, but they’re also memories. I do have good memories of the hikes I did in 2014, but the “ones that got away”, at least for now, serve as a reminder of the need for a happy medium between self encouragement and self improvement. I’ve opted not to make any bold predictions for 2015 except that no matter what happens this year, on the trails or off, if I can look back in 365 days and say that I’ve improved, it will have been a success.