1. Fly-tying. String, deer hair, feathers. Presto change-o, it’s an insect.
2. Practice useful back-country knots. Try it blindfolded.
3. Weigh your backpacking kit piece by piece and consider how you can shave off some precious ounces.
4. Perfect that GORP (granola, oats, raisins, peanuts) recipe. Secret weapon ingredient – peanut butter M&M’s.
5. Print some nature photos taken over the past year. Dream of capturing a rare species on ‘film’ this year.
6. Gear maintenance. Wash what has been neglected – sleeping bags, hydration bladders, boots, packs. Waterproof the rain gear. Sharpen knives and utility tools.
7. Trip planning. Always thought about thru-fishing the John Muir Trail for the elusive golden trout? Plan it. A special trip like this requires many hours for trail logistics and additional research to discover the best trout waters along the way. Bonus – working with maps.
8. Read adventure stories. Outside’s list of the “The 25 (Essential) Books for the Well-Read Explorer” is a great place to start. Articles in National Geographic, trip reports on summitpost.org, and current issues of magazines such as Backpacker, Trail Runner, Rock and Ice, and The Climbing Zine are short and sweet options.
9. Guilty pleasure television programs. Survivor (yes, it’s still on), Survivorman or Beyond Survival with Les Stroud (actually knows what he’s doing), Ultimate Survival Alaska (edited for drama but. . . Alaska!) Remote Survival (ordinary people instructed by experts – lots of “I’m not drinking/eating that!” followed by “I wish I would have drank/eaten that.”) Dual Survival (is that guy really always barefoot?)
10. Not to discredit the previous thoughtful suggestions, but when all else fails . . . go outdoors!