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New Year’s Bucket List for the Wild at Heart


In the spirit of dreading New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s bucket list instead of all the adventures I hope to do and accomplish this year. Looking back, I’ve done this almost every year without realizing it, so if you’re wild at heart, maybe some of these will be on your 2016 bucket list too!

I’ve spent an incredible amount of time wandering Rocky Mountain National Park, and of course, have barely tapped its wilderness, and while I plan to continue to explore this close-to-my-heart park, I’ve had the itch to see another one of the country’s jaw-dropping landscapes. Yosemite? Joshua Tree? So many choices! Big Bend National Park in Texas is, in my opinion, underrated and below the radar, but boasts canyons that rival the Grand and a mountain range that’s downright magical, so I’m making it a point to get there this year!

Call me a peak bagger all you want, but I’ll never forget the adrenaline and satisfying exhaustion of hiking my first Fourteener, Long’s Peak, a class 3 mountain, and I’ll always be chasing that feeling. 2015 checked Mt. Bierstadt off the list, so I’m aiming for Mt. Huron, a classic Rocky Mountain range peak, or Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest Fourteener at 14,433ft. Check out this list of Colorado’s Top 10 Must-Hike 14ers if you’re up for the challenge!

Okay, okay, this one is probably more of a resolution, I’ll admit, but it’s because 2016 will be my third official climbing year, and I’ve had the privilege to climb in the most beautiful places with the most beautiful people, but much of that time was spent flailing against rock instead of climbing it. I had some major victories and accomplishments, and while flailing is always a part of learning, I hope to be a more conscious climber with a sharper awareness of my body, like a dancer on a rock.

Adventures in the national parks is unrivaled for sure, but you just can’t get out to them every day, and that’s okay because chances are there are plenty of unknown parks and nature conversation areas in your backyard. Despite how close they are, it’s always harder than it should be to take the time to seek them out. Recently, I’ve begun running on the foothills trails in Denver because I can drive there in 10 minutes and run alongside the Rockies if it’s a day that I can’t be running in them. Here’s a “Quick and dirty guide to trail running near Denver” if that’s your habitat!

Whoops, did I do it again? Is this another resolution? Oh well, here it goes! I’m beginning 2016 with a new photography kit, a Canon 5D Mark II, and a new photographic mission. For so many years, I’ve battled my cameras, frustrated with the buying and learning process of new be-dangled DSLR setups that boasted fancy features. This year, I’m going fancy-free, and focusing my photography on storytelling, on the portraits of people and places, and life’s quiet, small adventures.

When was the last time you went on a camping trip for no other reason than to chill out in the woods or the desert or the shoreline, wherever the location? For me, it’s been ages. I’ve camped at crags, on a climbing expeditions, river rafting and fishing trips, and don’t get me wrong, these are all awesome experiences, but I’ve been missing the quiet, isolated, purposeless experience of just camping. Haven’t you?

Typically, I overdose on fiction, you know, the kind with a capital ‘F’. In 2016, I’m craving some heart-stopping, soul-wrenching, epic-inspiring tales of real people conquering life’s adventures. Here are the tales on my reading list!

The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko
Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Isn’t a bucket list a resolution to do something, anyway? 😉 This year, I’m excited to collect and tell more stories through photography and writing. Storytelling is a compelling method for preserving our environmental history and our culture, and I’m stoked to commit myself more to this humanistic necessity especially because of the upcoming changes coming to this blog!

Photos by Daryl Love Photography 

  • I love the idea of a bucket list instead of a resolution for the new year! Great ideas….thanks for sharing.

  • Great list! Personally, I love the idea of camping but I cringe at the idea of not being able to bathe every single day… plus I am a big baby when it comes to bugs lol

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  • Brittney Duncan

    Man, Mandi, I gotta tell you, this blog is beautiful! I’m inspired by the life you are creating and am excited that I get to watch in unfold. I keep thinking its a shame we didn’t get to know one another better when our paths crossed, but of course, I have grown a lot since then, and I must imagine that you have, too. Regardless, great job with everything!
    TreeLines comes at a particularly key time to inspire me -I’m actually building a website for a project my man and I are hoping to launch soon. The whole thing is just a little baby, but I have faith that with the right intentions and dedication it will grow into something as lovely as this. I welcome your feedback on everything when it launches!
    Also -so cool – Arella, my partner, totally went to school with Daryl Love. Small world, as they say.