Minnesota Outdoors
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From grand plans (a mother-daughter hike in the Grand Canyon) to the beautifully simple (taking in more sunrises and sunsets), readers responded to our query: What are your plans for the outdoors in 2020?

Some were unexpected, too: Judy Johnson of Red Wing will continue to focus on growing milkweed plants on her property in southeastern Minnesota to support monarch butterfly habitat. Paul Waytz of Minneapolis wrote of transition and milestones: giving up a lake home Up North after 40 years — “not an uncomplicated process” on a lot of levels.

Mark Elliott of Minneapolis looked forward to getting into a pair of speedskates again, among a laundry list of other experiences, after three decades living in Maui. Lisa Quinlan, also of Minneapolis, has a special bucket list that includes all manner of hiking, snowshoeing and wintering around Minnesota in the margins of busy lives with her children.

We picked three names randomly from a list of respondents, and will send off Star Tribune swag to Ashley Peters of Minneapolis; Susan Barrett of Mora; and Sean Plemmons of St. Paul. Thank you, all who weighed in.

Here are edited responses from some of the readers:

“My daughter and I started 2020 with a plan to train for our Grand Canyon hike in October. This plan has been a dream since we visited the Grand Canyon in 2011 when she was 13. Then, we looked at the Phantom Ranch check desk at the lodge and made plans -- someday. She still has the park map with her note -- "Someday!" -- written on it. We have overnight accommodations at Phantom Ranch through their lottery system back in September 2019. So, we are locked in to hiking 10.24.20! We plan to hike down the South Kaibob Trail, spend the night at Phantom Ranch and then hike up the Bright Angel Trail. … It will be a challenging and interesting eight-month journey.” Tania Bunik of Minneapolis, who will celebrate her “milestone 55th birthday” a few days before the trek.

“More outdoors mentoring this year. My passion and appreciation for fly fishing or birding is renewed when seeing it through the eyes of someone new-to-it. And I’ve finally acquired enough gear to take someone out without needing to rent anything.” @AshJPeters

“After hiking all of the Superior Hiking Trail the last few years, I’m finally going to take a trip to Isle Royale.” @S_Plemmons

“My sisters shared a link to a group, Women Who Hike. It seemed the perfect online social group to keep me finding new ways to be outdoors. Members post beautiful photos of hikes they took in Minnesota and around the country. Snowshoeing counts. Many have committed to completing 52 hikes this year. That’s one a week in case you’re counting! I believe it is hardly worth living in Minnesota if you don’t get outside in winter. But attitude is everything. If you are looking out your window thinking ‘it is too cold to venture forth,’ you either don’t have the right clothing or the right frame of mind. Embrace winter and get outside!” Susan Barrett, Mora

“My new year outdoor goals usually involve big adventures like hiking a long-distance trail, summiting a new peak, or completing a backcountry ski project. But this year I only have one goal: to see more sunrises and sunsets. I like this goal because anyone, no matter their ability or privilege or location, can share in it.” Alex Boehler, Wayzata

“The 2020 Resolutions of a Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer: to photograph the spring crop of sandhill crane colts along the Wildlife Drive, which have – mostly -- escaped my gaze; to spend a season with the refuge seed-collecting team, recording what can be one hot, wet, insect-challenged but sacred duty; to mountain bike refuge maintenance roads (when the season permits) where few visitors venture; and to hike the Mahnomen and Blue Hill trails with at least one of my grandchildren, watching the sunset from atop Blue Hill (and -- just maybe -- racing the deer flies back to our car).” Bruce Ellingson, St. Michael

“First goal is to hike 55 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail in 2020. I hiked 50 miles in 2015 when I turned 50 so it's only appropriate that I do 55 this year. I've hiked about a third of the trail over the years doing day and overnight segments, but the week I did in 2015 was special. A second goal is to be on the North Country Trail more. I adopted a 3-mile section near Remer, Minn., which I've helped maintain the last two years. The NCT holds so much adventure in our state to explore and being part of a national trail system, it begs you to travel to other states to experience the incredible diversity of it. There are always the goals of canoeing, biking and camping more, but I'll stick with hiking goals this year. It's easy to overextend your ambitions with a full year ahead and sitting in an office dreaming of what's to come.” Dan Geiger, Watertown