Did we reach our goal of 500 miles in 2020?

As of this writing, Dan and I hiked/snowshoed a total of 504.25 miles in 2020. In the course of those miles, we ascended 33,427 feet. Which is equivalent to trekking to the top level of the Empire State Building 26 times. 


Edison Sno-Park warming shelter

My husband and I walk for the sheer pleasure of being outdoors together in God’s magnificent creation. 


Edison Sno-Park

For the previous five years, I hiked in these Cascade Mountains mostly alone. By choice. As brave-making endeavors.

And now, oh joy, I have a hiking partner, road trip companion, Chai-tea-sipping, makes-me-laugh, kind, wise, thoughtful husband—the person I most enjoy doing things with.


Love his Elmer Fudd hat

Most of us have heard of the benefits of outdoor physical activity—it’s good for our hearts, it can help us get a better night’s sleep, ward off depression, and help keep the pounds off.

But consider this: outdoor physical activity also triggers creativity.

A friend recently shared an interesting article with us: “Your Brain Was Made for Walking” by Jeffrey Davis, Psychology Today, reproduced in Reader’s Digest, Nov 2020.

Our creative mindset is triggered by [outdoor] physical movement, which is exactly why walking—with your dog, a friend, or alone—feeds creative thinking.

Davis encouraged readers to set a creativity goal instead of a fitness goal. 

“Turn off your phone,” he wrote, “and give yourself the chance to be present in the world, to hear conversations and natural sounds, to notice the way people move, the way the sun reflects in a puddle.”

What if …

No matter that goal-setting sometimes gets a bad rap, it has its benefits. Goals provide direction and focus, motivate us, and offer a sense of personal satisfaction when achieved.

In our case, the 500-miles-in-2020 goal was fun and challenging. And it drove us outdoors more frequently than we might otherwise have gotten.

What if we set a creativity goal for the coming New Year that would involve getting outdoors on a regular basis?

What if it could be fun and challenging?

And what if—as a side benefit—it provided quality of life for facing those hard and holy moments that show up from time to time?

We can. It could be. It will. Speaking from experience.

SIDE NOTE: There’s one more benefit of walking not yet mentioned: It can introduce us to new friends. Meet Olaf.


Our new friend, Olaf—a Newfoundland-Poodle (would that make him a Noodle?)


Difference Makers: One load of wood at a time


4 easy intentions to set for 2021


  1. Larry

    Marlys, Did you just sneak in a challenge to your readers? Have a blessed New Year.

  2. John Moran

    Hi Marlys,
    I think having a mileage goal is a great idea. Kathy, my wife of 2+ years and I hiked Mt Whitney a few years ago. It was a great experience for us, and her first time on a long-distance backpacking trek. It was my 4th or so trip to the top of Whitney, and it was an awesome experience to do together. Last summer we hiked to numerous waterfalls near Crater Lake in Oregon, our first time hiking there. We will do it again! But… I think we also need to set a goal of mileage and/or trips out. Otherwise the time seems to rush by, and no hiking occurs.
    Thanks for your continued inspiration.
    Kathy has heard lots about you, and hopes to meet you and Dan sometime… maybe on some trail in the Cascades somewhere 🙂

  3. Marlys your articles are wonderful. Inspiring in every way. Love the snow adventures and Olaf is another blessing.
    Happy New Year to you both. May it include many more creative miles.

  4. Pat Christiansen

    Oh how I enjoy your weekly posts! You two inspire me. I was riding my bike with my hubby ten miles a day until the cold weather came. Either our valley air or the cold gives me a headache, so I’ve backed off.
    Olfa is adorable, an awesome breed. We have Zella, she is a labradoodle. She brings us and our grandchildren so much JOY.

    Blessing for a better 2021.

  5. Richard R Kelly

    Marlys – When the hospital furloughed all the volunteers back in March, I started taking daily long walks (10 plus miles).
    I set a goal for myself to take a virtual walk from Bend to my Mom’s home in Ocala, FL. I “arrived” on December 22nd – 2906 miles in 280 days at an average pace of 10.4 miles per day. And I lost 30 pounds and dropped my blood pressure down to the low side of the healthy range to boot. I agree with you – I zoned out on my daily walks and let my mind drift where it wanted to, and got a lot of creative thinking done.

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