My Reverse Bucket List

I have a list on my fridge that I started 3 years ago of things I wanted to do or experience.  My husband suggested I start it as a way to keep track of things we’ve done and better organize things we wanted to do.  We usually pick a few items off the list to cross of each year but it seems the more I cross off, the more gets added on! After seeing Katie, Meghan, and Eliz write up a their own reverse bucket lists of things they’ve accomplished (as opposed to things they hope to accomplish), I thought of my fridge list.  I’ve noticed that it’s really easy to get caught up in all the things I wish I could do and forget to look at back at what I’ve already done.  So, here (in no particular order) is my reverse bucket list:

1. Move across the country and start from scratch.  Twice.  

2. Get married to someone who is my best friend & partner in crime.

Hiking in Yosemite

Hiking in Yosemite

3. Learn to hike & backcountry camp by myself. When I moved to Calgary, I had no experience whatsoever with hiking or camping and since I didn’t know anyone, I got to learn through the wonderful “trial and error” method.  This summer we went on our first multi-day backpacking trip to Skoki and the persistent rain & mosquitos provided another wonderful learning opportunity :)

4. Lead climb outdoors. 

5. Do a multi-pitch rock climb & multi-pitch ice climb. In particular I love that my first multi-pitch ice climb was Louise Falls.  Every time I go to Lake Louise now I smile when I see the falls.

Finishing the second pitch and coming up to the cave.  I loved that the walk-off included a snow-luge track to slide down.

Finishing the second pitch and coming up to the cave. I loved that the walk-off included a snow-luge track to slide down.

6.  Lead my first ice climb.  While leading ice didn’t turn out to be my cup of tea, I’m proud that I followed through on my interest, took a weekend course and tried it even though I was terrified!  I knew I’d always look back and regret it if I had turned down the opportunity.

7. Visit a well-known climbing area. (Skaha, Red Rocks, Yosemite)

A project for next trip to Red Rocks.  Thanks to my friends Michelle for the awesome photo.

A project for next trip to Red Rocks. Thanks to my friends Michelle for the awesome photo.

8.  Go on a big road trip. Twice. My first big road trip to was to Colorado, Utah & Vegas and my second was down the west coast from Seattle to San Francisco.  Memorable moments include trying to camp in a tent in Zion in the middle of the summer, accidentally picking a campsite right beside the railroad in Bozeman and showing up to San Francisco with sundresses when it’s actually quite cold and the locals are all in Uggs and down sweaters!

9. Buy a house.  

10. Buy my first car and go camping in it. One of the best part of my Subie is that I can put the back seats down, and sleep in back with a view of the sky through the sunroof.  On our last trip I even classed it up with memory foam and magnetic bug screens for the windows.  When I went car shopping, I got some interesting looks when the first thing I checked out in a car was how much room there was with the seats folded down :)

The memory foam as key for comfort! The hooks in the trunk also worked well for hanging headlamps

The memory foam was key for comfort! The hooks in the trunk also worked well for hanging headlamps

11. Learn to garden & can. Calgary is not know for its spectacular growing season so its been a challenge to figure out what works in my garden. Summer can include intense sun, wind storms, hail storms, and occasionally snow.  This year I decided to start preserving some of my garden and canned apple sauce and raspberry jam.  I also got together with a few friends and turned 200 lbs of farm bought tomatoes into canned tomato sauce!

First kale of the season being made into chips.

First kale of the season being made into chips.

12. Ski my first double black diamond.  I have yet to repeat this but I’m happy I attempted it and didn’t fall!  It was one of the ER chutes at Lake Louise and to start it, you had to balance your skis over an edge.  I only started skiing 5 years ago and was barely making it down green runs at the time.  Now I can comfortably ski most terrain including black diamonds.

Skiing at Sunshine over the Christmas holidays.

Skiing at Sunshine over the Christmas holidays.

13. Go to the Bugaboos.  This summer I went on a girls trip to the Bugaboos.  I learned a lot about roping up, placing gear and making gear anchors.  We got to climb Eastpost Spire (where I did my first trad lead), Houndstooth and part of the Kain route.  We had bluebird skies for 5 days straight and I learned that it is possible to roast in 30C heat on a glacier!

Me with Houndstooth in the background just above my head.

Me with Houndstooth in the background just above my head.

14. Climb an 11,000 ft peak and learn to cross glaciers.  I did this on a weeklong mountaineering course on the Wapta glacier.  One cool fact I learned: the pink tinge on snow in the summer is called watermelon algae.  And for curious minds, yes it does smell like watermelon :)

15. Learn to paint. (acrylic)

One of my first few paintings.

One of my first few paintings.

16. Take a university course for the fun of it. (The archeology of ancient peoples)

17. Rappel underneath a glacier. My husband & I got an invite to help with a project creating educational materials on glaciers.  We skied to Bow Hut on the Wapta glacier and from there, skied to the foot of Peyto hut and dug a tunnel that allowed us to rappel to the ground under the glacier.  A huge cavern was hallowed out by summer meltwater and we were able to explore 150m down the tunnel.  It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had.

The light in the back is where we dropped in.

The light in the back is where we dropped in.


The area around the cave and the glacier we were under.

18.  Hike to 14,000ft (Grays and Torreys near Denver). This trip also included a personalized lesson about the importance of being off the peaks before afternoon thunderstorms.  I had thought we started early enough but the last few km’s were a sprint through hail, rail and rapidly approaching thunder & lightening.  Needless to say I’m a bit more cautious on hikes now and always bring rain gear just in case!

19. Learn to take pictures in manual mode on my DSLR

Sunset at Cape Perpetua in Oregon.

Sunset at Cape Perpetua in Oregon.

20. Run my first 10k race (1.04hr)

21. Take my first international trip to … China!  One awesome discovery (though not a surprising one) was that chinese food in China is nothing like north american chinese food.  Real chinese food is less greasy and more flavourful and I can still remember in detail this crepe/egg/sauce breakfast wrap that street vendors sold in Beijing.  If anyone has been to China and knows what I’m talking about and how to make it, please tell me!

22. Speak two languages really well (English, French) and be mediocre at a third (Italian)

Leave a comment


  1. Laurel Fan

     /  January 24, 2013

    I think I know how to make the crepe/egg thing… but I’ve only had it in Taiwan and at home so it might not be the same thing as in Beijing. Do you have a picture?

    • Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures. From what I remember the vendor would make what looked like a regular crepe on those circular frying surfaces. Then he’d crack 1 or 2 eggs on it, paint the surface with a variety of sauces and add greens (lettuce?) and some crunchy maybe deep-fried meat. Then it was rolled up and put in plastic bag! I’d LOVE to hear your recipe even it’s not exactly the same. The 3 weeks I spent in China was probably some of the best eating of my life, too bad I can’t find the same here…

      • Laurel Fan

         /  January 24, 2013

        How often do you go to Vancouver? Actually you can probably find a place to get this in Vancouver…

        It’s called jian bing. There are probably recipes online, but:

        I make the batter with flour + egg + water. I eyeball it but you can probably use a recipe for crepe or pancake batter but without sugar and water instead of milk (and maybe with more salt than you think you need).

        sauce = chili bean paste? oyster sauce? soy sauce and sesame oil?

        greens = green onions and cilantro?

        meat = ?

        and of course since you watched the vendor make it you know the general method :)

      • I think that was definitely the meat! I’ll have to experiment with the sauce. I’m not often in Vancouver but next time I am I’ll for sure be looking up a place that serves it :) Thanks!

  2. This is so great to read, Sarah! You have every reason to feel fulfilled with this beautiful reverse bucket list. I especially love how you have incorporated the photos. Thanks for writing one!

    • Thanks for the inspiration to write one! I loved reading yours as well. I think this idea is so neat as it illustrates how different everyone’s path to happiness is. Plus there’s nothing like a good reminder to be thankful for the experiences that brought you to where you are :)

  3. What a wonderful idea! I realized recently I don’t have a bucket list – I tend to do things as they come up. I might have to try your method!

    • I didn’t have a bucket list either until recently. I think it’s a good exercise in clarifying your goals and fun to look back on!

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