January can feel like a strange stretch of time. We’re all trying to shift back into a more normal routine after the holidays, but we’re also looking at what in our lives and communities we might want to work on, or goals we’d like to accomplish in this next rotation around the sun.

Sometimes this phase can feel a little murky or we might not know where to start. To help us all gain a little clarity moving into 2022, we turned to our Gossamer Gear community of brand ambassadors, gear testers, and key supporters to see what they’re thinking about during these days between New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

We hope their 2021 reflections and 2022 goals for themselves and their communities can offer a little inspiration for your own.

Kathy Vaughan on Healing Together in the Outdoors

2021 was a year of growth for me as an individual and for the world as a whole. The individual communities within our world experienced something new to us in our current society. We were asked to think about how our individual actions would affect others. We were put in a situation where we needed to explore how we felt about our behavior within our communities. I learned that I feel a responsibility within me to contribute to the healing of the nation, the environment, and to those around me, no matter what presents itself. 

I found myself cleaning up my local beach with regular garbage pick-up days. When I felt confined to my neighborhood, I found a way to learn about the beach and the contents that form it. I am learning about rocks and pebbles that I find, and I even discovered a juvenile mammoth's tooth one afternoon. When asked to distance ourselves from others to help stop the spread of the pandemic, I learned that I have my ways, and others have theirs. Thru-hiking is still possible in a conscientious way; trail races and events are still possible when protocol is followed properly; gathering outdoors to explore, learn, adventure, and exercise is important to many people. 

We have to find ways to continue to get outside because the mental and physical health of us as individuals, and of our communities, depends on it. I am committed to doing what I can towards this in 2022.

In 2022, I plan to continue my engagement with the outdoors. I find that one of the main ways that I can do this is by setting an example by sharing my experiences. I like to show others the wild places I've been and how the experience there has contributed to my mental well-being. I show others how I care for the trails and behave as a steward for them and my local beach. I live on Whidbey Island in Washington, and can access the shoreline in a variety of locations. I like to share these images to help inspire others to get out and visit parks and wild backcountry locations. I encourage others so they, too, can benefit from their time outside and contribute in any small way to preserving, or caring for, particular places that speak to them. 

I have filled my 2022 calendar with ultra-running trail races and a thru-hike season that will keep my focus in the right place.

Nancy East on Finding New Adventures

If the last two years have taught me anything, it's to let go of expectations. I'm carrying that mindset with me into 2022 (perhaps with slightly more hopeful anticipation). The good news is that there's never a lack of options to keep me busy adventuring close to home in western North Carolina. 

The Carolina Mountain Club has several fantastic challenges, such as the South Beyond 6,000 Challenge, which involves summiting 40 peaks over 6,000 feet, many of which require off-trail excursions. The club also posts challenges that focus on visiting fire towers, waterfalls, and even "100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge," as indicated on the map with the same name. This year, my plan is to hike the "100 Favorite Trails" list and blog about them as I go, with the hope of providing more information than what space allows for on the associated map. 

Further south, The Palmetto Trail is a gem of a trail, starting in the northwestern corner of South Carolina, and traveling all the way to the coast, 500 miles away. It's still a relatively new trail, so the "passages" (sections) have some gaps, which makes a continuous thru-hike a logistical challenge. But spending a few days hiking a few passages at a time has familiarized me with the geography, culture, and history of a state I've lived next to nearly my entire life, but have known little about. I started hiking the Palmetto Trail on the weekend of my 49th birthday in 2021, and my goal is to wrap it up by my 50th this February!

Duncan Cheung on Next Steps for Healing the Healers

Three of the bigger lessons I learned during the pandemic:

  1. Stick with my intention, but do not get attached to specific outcomes.
  2. Embody both masculine (doing) and feminine (being) energies.
  3. Caring for the world won’t be fruitful unless the care includes oneself.

In 2021, Off Trail On Track received its formal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS. We immediately put it to good use and hosted our inaugural Heal Our Healers outdoor retreat to help healthcare workers feel loved, seen, and cared for. Our retreat with a Bay Area palliative care team was filled with realness, joy, humanity, resourcefulness, and fulfillment. The doctors, nurses, social workers, and administrators told me that they "felt so very loved and seen for the first time since the pandemic" and "nourished by the whole experience."

In 2022, we will be hosting more outdoor retreats for healthcare workers and also look into expanding retreats to serve teachers and frontline service workers. We will also be guest hosting a podcast series, Breathing Wind, on their third season. Through in-depth interviews and storytelling, we will bring light to the relationship between wilderness, joy, and grief.  Additionally, we will be up-leveling how we provide outdoor education and minimalist backpacking pro tips through Gossamer Gear’s forthcoming know more. take less. educational series.

John Haffner on Ways to Engage With Trails

What did 2021 teach you that you'll bring into your outdoor life and community in 2022?

Folks generally want to be good citizens. It’s all about presentation when speaking with people about Leave No Trace. Also, positivity is infectious. No, I’m not referring to COVID. 😉

How do you plan to engage with the outdoors in 2022 and why?

Trail running, mainly. I’m going to run my age on my birthday like I did last year. It’s a great way for me to remember how old I am for the rest of the year.

Where will you put your focus in 2022 to give back to our wider outdoor community?

I hope to participate in a trail maintenance event each month. Or at least 12 times. I am volunteering at a 100-mile trail race in March and May! Party time!

Share Your 2022 Outdoor Hopes and Dreams With Our Community

Know an outdoor nonprofit everyone should support this year? Have a story to share about volunteering to make the outdoors more accessible for everyone? Want to share some tips on how we can all support an important issue facing the outdoor industry? Have a tale you think our community would enjoy about your adventures in the wild?

Tag us on social media (@gossamergear) and use the hashtag #takelessdomore with your thoughts to help us share our collective 2022 outdoor hopes and dreams far and wide!

January 13, 2022 — Korrin Bishop