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Nature Study Goals 2014 – Final Recap

Nature Study Goals 2014 @handbookofnaturestudy

Concluding Thoughts

Overall I think I did pretty good this year in reaching my nature study goals. A few areas I could have done a better job but those goals can rollover into 2015. We were able to do some amazing traveling during 2014 which was very unexpected and exciting. So, what started out as a rather wacky idea to make nature study goals way back at the beginning of 2013 has actually been just what I needed to push me in creating the opportunity to grow and learn as a person deeply interested in discovering and then learning more about what I see in my natural surroundings.

December 2014 Final Results

#1- Visit two new national parks in 2014. Complete.

#2- Identify and journal three new birds. Complete.

Completed the Bewick’s Wren, the Clark’s Nutcracker, and now the Killdeer.

#3- Identify and journal three new rocks. Completed only one but will continue on again in 2015.

#4- Three new hikes. Complete!

#5 Visit a new-to-me nature center. Complete.

#6- Post a nature photo of the week for the entire year. I came really close to accomplishing this goal! I did 48 of the 52 prompts. If you are interested in seeing the Pinterest board with all of the images from the year, you can pop over to Nature Photo of the Week 2014.

#7- Camping in all four seasons.

We made summer and autumn camping trips easily. After much thought and discussion with my husband, we decided we really don’t have any desire to go camping in the winter. Call it wimping out or whatever you want but we would rather go camping when the conditions are warmer and the days are longer. Our spring camping trip will happen in 2015!

Grand Canyon May 2014 (3)
My daughter and I had our cross country road trip.
Shelving Rock Falls May 2014 (2)
Our family had some time in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut! This was at Shelving Rock Falls in New York.


Half Dome Top
My boys climbed Half Dome!
My son went on an extended trip to Peru.


I will be posting my 2015 after the new year rolls in and I get them down on paper.

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Nature Study Goals 2014- Update

Nature Study Goals 2014 @handbookofnaturestudy

September 15, 2014 Updates

#1- Visit two new national parks in 2014. Complete.

We have had the opportunity to visit four new national parks this year! Petrified Forest National Park, Hot Springs National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Great Basin National Park.

#2- Identify and journal three new birds.  Two out of three done!

I have completed the Bewick’s Wren and Clark’s Nutcracker.

#3-  Identify and journal three new rocks. Once again, I am failing at this goal. I need to refresh my memory and make a plan. (See below for my new plan to accomplish my goals.)

#4- Three new hikes. Complete!

We accomplished this goal with these three hikes: Mount Arab in the Adirondacks of New York, Round Lake on the Tahoe Rim Trail, and the Bristlecone Pine Trail at Great Basin National Park.

#5 Visit a new-to-me nature center. Complete.

We thoroughly enjoyed the nature center at Great Basin National Park.

#6- Post a nature photo of the week for the entire year. Up to date!

#7- Camping in all four seasons.

So our spring trip didn’t happen because of my road trip to the East Coast with my daughter…BUT we have gone on three camping trips this summer! (We have a camping trip planned for the end of September and then another in December…plus a trip for spring 2015 to the Grand Canyon!)

My New Plan For Accomplishing my Goals

I have added a Nature Study Goals box to the Nature Study Planning Page in the newsletter for October (take a peek at the original page in this entry). This may remind me and all of you too of your nature study goals each month. Let me know how it helps you or if you have any other ideas for the planning page.


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Round Lake Hike – Nature Study Goals 2014

Round Lake June 2014 (2)

June was an exciting month of outdoor life for our family. We took a three day camping trip up to the mountains and were able to complete two awesome day hikes. Hiking is something that fills that need for adventure, finding a spot out in the forest where there are few people and lots of interesting views to enjoy. The first hike was to a lake we have visited before but the second hike was completely new to us.

One of my nature study goals for this year was to take three new hikes. I shared my Adirondack hike back in May and now I can add this Round Lake hike to my “new hike” list for the year.

Round Lake June 2014 (6)

The trail to Round Lake is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail, stretching along for 3.5 miles from the trailhead to the lake. The hike, according to my sister, is 80% uphill on the way to the lake. It was a steady uphill and never felt to strenuous to my husband and I. There were lots of things to look at as you hiked, including wildflowers galore.

Big Meadow Tahoe Rim Trail

In fact, at the very beginning of the hike you cross Big Meadow on a completely flat narrow trail lined with wildflowers and criss-crossed by butterflies flying. What an enjoyable place!

Round Lake June 2014 (15)

Here is a close-up of one flower that was abundant as we walked across the meadow.

Trail to Round Lake

Here is a map of the topography of the trail, showing how as you hike along you go up in elevation for the most part until you reach the lakeshore.

Round Lake June 2014 (20)

Some more wildflowers along the trail…just enough to keep it interesting.

Round Lake June 2014 (22)

This was our stopping spot to eat some lunch and enjoy the view. Although, the photo does not show the hordes of mosquitoes that were trying to make lunch of us! We were glad that a strong breeze kicked up and for the most part we could sit and enjoy our meal without too much annoyance. I wish I could say the same for the hike back down the mountain….I ended up with quite a few bites on my legs and back of my neck.

Round Lake June 2014 (24)

Here is one more view of the trail side as we hiked back down. This section was filled with Corn Lilies…a little dampness is all it takes.

So there you have our hike…New Hike #2! We are planning on returning later this summer to hike to the Dardanelles which are along this same trail with a westerly turn at about two miles.

Round Lake June 2014 (13)

I am calling this my “local hike” since it is just about an hour from my front door.

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Hiking in the Adirondack Mountains- Mount Arab


What a glorious thing to explore a new state, a new trail, and then to top it off…a NEW to me flower.

Our recent trip to New York (via a road trip across the complete United States), gave us an opportunity to take several new hikes in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. My daughter picked the hike to Mount Arab out of the guide book and it was a winner! Just outside of Tupper Lake, NY, this trail is a short hike up the mountain and through a heavily wooded forest. Since it is early spring, the trees were just starting to get their new leaves and there were wildflowers just starting to bloom alongside the trail.

purple trilium

I created a list of wildflowers to look for during our trip, flowers we don’t have in California but are listed in the Handbook of Nature Study. I had a east coast wildflower field guide with me too for reference since most of the flowers are new to me.  We actually spotted this variety of trillium (Purple Trillium) right at the beginning of the hike…so pretty and colorful in the brown woodsy floor. (Outdoor Hour Challenge for this flower in the future.)

Trout Lily

Then we saw lots and lots of Trout Lilies! This is another one on my list of wildflowers to study and I will now be able to create an Outdoor Hour Challenge for this flower. The abundance of these lilies really created a special atmosphere as we hiked up the mountain.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (34)

I read in a guide book before we left that May is “mud season” in the Adirondacks. There were sections of this trail that turned out to be quite muddy but the trail makers had made it easier by adding these board walks to span the muddier parts. The mud created spots for insects to gather and we tried not to stop and get eaten by bugs.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (24)

The trail at the top opens up where there are large rock slabs and an incredible view. The weather had been threatening to rain in the morning but we enjoyed sunny skies when we reached the top.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (25

Here is the fire tower at the top of Mount Arab. The wind was blowing really hard which felt like air conditioning after a hot hike up. I am not great with heights but my kids and husband were eager to climb up the stairs and check out the view from the top.

Mount Arab New York Adirondacks May 2014 (7)

I was a little sunburned…that’s the trouble with fair and freckled skin. I had on sunblock…really. I climbed about half way up the tower and the wind was whipping through up there. I was good with the view from there, I know my limits.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (35)

On the way back down the trail, we spied several toads. The above image is a “Where’s Waldo?” sort of photo where the toad is very well camouflaged by the leaves on the forest floor.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (39)

We also saw a snake! He was as curious about us as we were about him.

Mount Arab Adirondacks May 2014 (10)

What a great hike! We will remember this one for its trilliums, lilies, toads, snake, and view from the top. I will also try to remember the variety of bird song we heard as we hiked along as a family.

This hike will count toward my Nature Study Goals for 2014…a new hike!


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Nature Study Goals – 2014

Nature Goals 2014

1. Visit two new national parks – My husband and I are anxious to travel to at least two new parks this year as part of my nature study goals. I have a few in mind so we share see how that works out: Great Basin National Park, Pinnacles National Park, Zion National Park, Olympia National Park. We are not sure which direction we will be heading for our annual big camping trip…east, southwest, or northwest.

2. Three new birds – Identify and journal three new birds. I am determined to make a goal I can keep this year.

3. Rock challenge from 2013 – Continue working through the list of rocks from 2013, hopefully completing at least three new rocks.

4. Take three new hikes – at least one new local hike and two additional hikes

5. Visit a new nature center.

6. Monthly nature photo challenge – I am going to take a nature photo a week. (I will be sharing my printable list of topics soon.) I am then going to choose one photo from each month for a 2015 family calendar.

7. Camping in all four seasons – This is a new goal that my husband and I are going to attempt to start in Spring 2014 and finishing up in at the end of the year. We have never camped during the winter season before so we have been reading up on all the how-to’s.

As I related in my Nature Study Goal 2013 recap from last week, I am learning to set goals but also grab opportunities that come up during the year. Following interest is a major part of my keeping nature study fresh and new as we encounter things along the way. I hope that you can set even just one nature study related goal for 2014. If you would like to share, leave me a comment with a link or just share your thoughts if you feel motivated.