Adventure Milestones: Why You Need Them, And How To Reach Them

Do you really think a long-distance thru-hiker just woke up one day and hit the trail? Doubtful. No, many, many miles of hiking and backpacking were logged in before the thru-hike even commenced.

Mr. Hiker’s long walk started with setting adventure milestones. “Today I hike 3 miles, next year, 2,650.”

Say you’ve never been backpacking before, but you get this crazy idea to walk from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. By all means, go for it. But you’ll probably want to actually try hiking and backpacking first, right? Then you’ll be able to gauge how far you can go in a single day, what to expect in certain situations, how to pack properly, who might make a suitable hiking partner, and so on.

Think of adventure milestones as goal setting. Or a check list, of sorts.

When you’re setting your milestones, start from the bottom, work your way up. Wanna sail around the world but never stepped on a boat? Buddy up with someone with experience, or take a class. Wanna dive the sweetest spots on Earth, but never even snorkeled? Again, take a class. You get the idea.

Basically, you have to start somewhere. You should set insane adventure goals, but you’ll thank yourself later if you ease your way in.

Personally, I want to do something huge. And it involves tons of time, money, and effort. I’m not the most experienced in this department, but I’m getting there. When the day comes for my wife and I to travel around the world, I’ll be happy I set milestones.

What about you? What kind of milestones are you aiming at?


I waited 20 years to fly in a B-17

When I was a kid, I had maybe three goals in life.

The first goal had something to do with owning a better skateboard than my best friend.

The second goal probably had something to do with crushing my sister’s dreams of marrying Leonardo DiCaprio.

The third, and most important goal in my young mind was to one day fly in a B-17.

I begged and pleaded with my parents to make it happen. I heard nothing but one ( completely legitimate) excuse after another. It’s over. There was no hope.

And then 19 or 20 years later, I receive a random e-mail at work asking if I’d like to go up in a B-17 as a member of the media.

You’re telling me there is a god?

I immediately called the contact who sent the e-mail, perhaps being overly enthusiastic at times while he reassured me that, yes, you are scheduled to go up in a B-17 in a few days. As journalists and editors, we’re trained to act indifferent in all situations. I totally blew it on this assignment.

When the day finally arrived, and I stood there admiring the plane reflecting sunlight as the flight crew rattled off safety tips and interesting historical tidbits, I realized this was actually going to happen.

View from the nose of the aircraft.

We climbed aboard and took our seats in the waist gunner section of the aircraft. A cloud of smoke reeking of gasoline poured into the fuselage as the pilot fired up the first two engines.

As a kid, I would’ve thought the smoke was just the icing on the cake. But as an adult, I couldn’t help but think about the young men—men my age—who risked it all each and every time they boarded the aircraft. Something tells me they weren’t as excited as I was to fly in a B-17.

This was a dream come true for me. Which brings me to my next point. It just might take 20 years to accomplish one of your goals in life. Hey, you never know when you might receive that random e-mail or phone call.

What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do since you were young, but were only recently given the opportunity to do so?