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Johnson: Hiking resolutions for the New Year
Hiking Arizona

Made any New Year’s resolutions in the context of hiking? Looking back over 2018, see anything to celebrate related to hiking? How about something you’d wish was better from 2018 and you have resolved to make a change to see that improvement become a reality in 2019?

Perhaps you’ve resolved to simply hike more, further or more frequently. Perhaps you will participate in the Hiking Spree sponsored by the Highland Center this time around. You might like to do something concrete to improve the environment like the Friends of the Library in Spring Valley. We made a two year commitment to adopt a section of Highway 69.

Perhaps you have resolved to become more knowledgeable about a specific aspect of hiking, such as sharpening your route finding skills or learning something about any number of outdoor elements along the trail like plants, rocks, etc. I just concluded a series of workshops at Lost Dutchman State Park on survival, wilderness navigation and edible plants of the Sonoran Desert. Many such opportunities are available through Municipal Parks and Recreation Departments, Community Colleges (e.g. OLLI) or land management agencies such as Arizona State Parks.

Another resolution might be to read a good book about hiking or the Southwest. It could be related to a skill, a guidebook or someone’s tale of adventure (fiction or nonfiction) in order to enjoy your hikes more or to be better equipped the next time you hit the trail. The greatest adventure story in the Southwest must be John Wesley Powell’s account of his float trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Books like Going Back to Bisbee (Richard Shelton) or Dry River: Stories of Life, Death and Redemption on the Santa Cruz River (Ken Lamberton) serve to broaden our awareness of just how amazing the Southwest is, historically as well as environmentally.

Looking back over 2018, I was fortunate to hike in several new and significant areas, such as the Mojave Preserve in California, Capitol Reef National Park in Utah and Kartchner Caverns State Park in southeast Arizona. I’ve already written about hiking in the Mojave Preserve and will talk about Capitol Reef soon.

Most recently, I’ve hiked in Kartchner Caverns State Park in preparation for another workshop on the local flora. This workshop will include a short hike on the Foothills Loop Trail through the Chihuahua Desert. As I hiked the Loop a couple of weeks ago, I ran into some hikers from Sedona, who had been exploring trails in the nearby Dragoon Mountains and other Sky Island ranges nearby. Most visitors to Kartchner Caverns are interested in underground sites, yet there are several hiking opportunities in the Park or nearby.

You might even resolve to be a more friendly hiker. You just never know who you might encounter on the trail. It could even be a neighbor. In order to be a more sociable hiker and to sharpen my botanical knowledge, I recently joined the Arizona Native Plant Society, Prescott Chapter.

It’s one thing to join, it’s another thing to make things better by making a contribution to the group. Volunteering to lead hikes or conduct programs is a fantastic way to grow and help others at the same time. What a great way to have fun and make the world a little better for everyone in 2019.

Simple, yes? Welcome in 2019 on a hike.

Next: What would you do if lost in the wilderness?

Ted Johnson is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at sportsdesk@prescottaz.com.

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