An adventure bucket list is the best way to check off those trails, lakes and falls you want to see in the new year.

      

The stars aligned—my husband and sister-in-law simultaneously had a couple of days off in a row, and we were all free. We knew exactly how to take advantage of the coincidence: we hired a babysitter and tackled something that had been on our list since my husband had read about it in an old book.      

Mt. Niles, Yoho National Park, BC. It was a spectacular hike. Twenty-four kilometres of pure rugged beauty complete with everything you might hike for: swathes of wildflowers, ripe huckleberries, silty blue-green lakes, impressive peaks, gleaming glaciers, cascading waterfalls and wildlife.Sylvia Dekker

The feeling of crossing it off our list after dreaming about overlooking the ice fields from the summit was incredibly satisfying. As we reviewed our adventure journal, reflecting on the year we’d had, I realized many of our best experiences followed the pattern of making the most of free days or hours thanks to having a list to draw from.

An “adventure bucket list” is exactly what it sounds like: a compilation of exploration hopefuls; an outdoorsy wish list; a to-do list that can occasionally trump the day-to-day agenda. As we’ve discovered over and over, having a list to refer to keeps the decision on what to do on free days easy and centred on something outdoorsy. It takes the guesswork out of the massive potential that free days or hours hold, making the decision new and exciting. Instead of defaulting to a favourite familiar hike or activity, we have a place to scroll through for inspiration other than the time suck that is social media. An adventure list helps us seize the day and turn it into one to remember. Sylvia Dekker

If you ever have a passing thought of wanting to accomplish this and a fleeting wish to experience that, having an adventure bucket list to turn these aspirations into action is for you. The “how” is easy. All the effort required goes into pushing off the “do laundry” item on the list and getting out there instead. Finding things to add to the list is just a matter of being inspired and excited by the prospect of experiencing something.

My husband loves to spend hours on Google Maps checking out areas, planning approaches and researching trail reports so often, our more ambitious, off-the-beaten-path objectives are his additions. Mine range from wanting to finally finish a certain waterfall hike to camping with the newest additions to our family before 2023 is over. Chatting with fellow hikers, coworkers, article interviewees, reading books, scrolling social media and scouring maps has led us to some amazing finds and incredible experiences. But only because we make a conscious effort to write down the often hard-to-remember name. Obscure mountain, hut, trail and place names that we come across while scrolling or talking to someone don’t live in our busy minds for long.Sylvia Dekker

Your adventure bucket list can be as simple as a list of place names on your phone or as detailed as links to trail reports and a list of specific gear requirements. You can get fancy in a journal or rough it on a page in your grocery list notebook.

If you’re anything like me, your mind is a dead end for ideas. Keeping a list either digitally or physically allows for a longer, more exhaustive list than your brain can probably retain. Plus, the triumph of checking or crossing items off counts for something. The key is to make it a list you're excited about. It doesn't have to be grand, just an adventure for you. It's meant to be a place to go to when there's time to do something.Sylvia Dekker

Likely it’ll end up being a mixed bag of elaborate and mini adventures. Canoe this lake. Try bouldering. Camp in the snow for the first time. Find these hidden alpine lakes we heard about from a local hike and stay at these backcountry cabins. It can include physical places, certain experiences or a mix of both. For example, you might wish to travel to the other end of the country because you watched a video about a fascinating local tradition or culture that you’d love to experience someday. Or you might set an intention to sleep under the stars a certain number of times in 2024.

It’s a hopeful but low-pressure list that lives to serve you with ideas. You’re not limited to your own list: share one with your partner or help others check theirs off. Friends and acquaintances often have items on their lists you didn’t know or think about. If nothing else, it’ll get you out into cool things more often. Sylvia Dekker

Keeping an adventure bucket list is all about enhancing and inspiring more outdoor experiences for yourself. For us, Mt. Niles proved it works—without our list, this peak would’ve been a name lost to the busyness of life instead of a core memory.

What adventures are making your list for 2024?

     

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