Bear Creek Outdoor Living Newsletter

Bringing the Outdoors to You

Setting Big Goals and Fall Inspiration

Brian, Bear Creek’s Co-Founder, recently completed the Grindstone 100 Mile Trail Race. A grueling, massive elevation gain, foot race with a time cut off. Competing in it is a BHAG. 

The term BHAG was originally coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, first published in 1994.

BHAGS are so big, hairy, and audacious, it is a long term goal that really energizes and focuses the goal-setter, leading through a process of transformation.

For Brian it started in 2019, as he began training for the Richmond Marathon. As Victoria shared in a post last year: Come As You Will Be. Which means to look ahead a few years, currently they use three years, and write out a vision for what they want their lives to be. They look at various areas of life that are important, from spiritual life, family, work, relationships, finances, personal health, etc. Then they look at: where am I now and what do I need to do next to move closer to that vision for my life. It is goal setting with a strong “why” behind it. 

For Brian, that meant a lifestyle change that would allow him to live strong and healthy, to be prepared for adventures with Victoria in empty-nesting and for the joys of grandparenthood, Lord willing and whenever that came to be. It was a full overhaul from his current state. But the way you tackle a 100 mile race, one step at a time. He ran the Richmond Marathon that year and kept on running. Then he slowly tackled various trail races and other literal milestones in his quest for the 100 Miler. Each month and passing season, the goal becoming more in focus and attainable. Not completely void of setbacks and challenges along the way, but each one faced with steady and unwavering focus and support along the way. Until he toed the line and step by step propelled himself 100 miles.

A great BHAG is as the name suggests:

  • (B)ig—It’s so big that it’s not something that you can necessarily accomplish in a year, it might even take three to five years.
  • (H)airy—The goal seems wild and crazy because it’s so transformational and maybe even a bit out of the box. Such thinking comes when it’s something you’ve never done before.
  • (A)udacious—It should have a gasp factor. It makes you sit up and listen when you first think about or hear it. The next emotion should be that it’s exactly the right idea for you to pour your heart and soul into.
  • (G)oal—It must be a clearly articulated goal (or milestones along the way) which can be measured, so that success can be defined and celebrated.

But it doesn’t have to be a long distance running race. Creating your own BHAG requires some soul-searching. The first question to ask is what are you passionate about? What do you want life to look like in a few years from now? What is your compelling “why”? 

It must be compelling, exciting and action-oriented. There will inevitably be process steps and milestones to hit along the way. There will be a team of people that surround you and cheer you on as your wild goal may sometimes even seem unattainable to you. There will be setbacks and hard days, these people will help cheer you on as you keep pressing on toward the goal. They will believe in you when sometimes it’s hard to believe in yourself.

So, what is your BHAG? What do you passionately desire to accomplish in the next few years? We would love to cheer you on.

Experience this 980-acre forest with a lake right in Charlottesville, Virginia. To do the 6.7-mile loop trail is generally considered a moderately challenging route that takes an average of 3 hours to complete. However, this nature area allows for many options of shorter loops or out-and-back routes. The trails lead you through majestic forest, along rugged terrain, and with rich wildlife, offering a wilderness hiking opportunity within minutes of town. There are also unique features such as a dam, floating bridge and a few peninsulas. Plan your hike to pass amazing wooden statues of a mountain man, eagle, owl and bear.

This is a very popular area for hiking, mountain biking, and running, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. It is well marked and maintained. You can hike the full loop or go out-and-back to make the hike any length of time or distance. If you head to the right, starting the loop counter clockwise, you will avoid the noise of Highway 64.

Tips from the Garden Team

Leaf mulch is a wonderful, easily accessible resource this time of year. It can be utilized in your garden in two great ways. 

First, you can simply add leaf mulch right into your compost bin and it will break down over the next few months and be a nice start of compost for your spring garden.

A second way to use leaf mulch, and the way we primarily use it, is to spread shredded leaf mulch directly over your garden or flower beds. The shredded leaf mulch will start breaking down right there in the bed, add to the overall health of the soil and help retain moisture over the winter and into the spring growing season. Simply spread the leaf mulch around your existing garden plants or use it to help create new garden beds for spring planting.

So how do you make your own shredded leaf mulch? If you have trees of your own, you can rake the leaves up once they are in a pile, run over them with a lawn mower to shred them up a bit. If you don’t have leaves in your yard, you can offer to take them off your neighbors hands or you can check with a local landscaper or lawn company to see if they have any excess leaves. So why shredded leaves? If you put whole leaves into your garden they often blow away on a blustery fall day, but the shredded leaf mulch tends to stay in place better overall. Once you’ve shredded and spread the leaf mulch, water the entire bed to give some weight to the mulch and to help the process of decompensation to begin.

Falling leaves in your yard are sometimes seen as a seasonal headache, but you can turn it into a wonderful addition to your garden this year.

Do you have more questions? Comment on social media or reach out to our garden team.

These Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies are my family’s favorite. We make them every year around the holidays. They are easy to make and so soft. The ginger flavor comes through delightfully. These disappear fast but feel free to half the recipe, if you would like a smaller batch!


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda (it sounds like a lot, but it’s correct)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the softened butter and sugars on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides, as needed. Add in the eggs and molasses, and beat on medium-low until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat until it is evenly incorporated.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the dough is completely chilled. The dough will be very sticky.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the dough into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Fill a separate small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place dough balls on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the cookies begin to slightly crack on top.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 4-5 minutes (they will crack a little more).
  6. You can store them in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Or freeze them for up to 3 months

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven – Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

For our Client in Afton, VA we replaced the old deck due to deterioration. The new deck and lower level screen porch turned out amazing. After demolition of the old deck and new framing and blocking, the homeowners selected Fiberon Composite decking in the IPE color for a rich but natural color of decking. The surrounding railing is Keylink American Series Aluminum railing system in Bronze for a stately look. They opted for waterproofing under the upper deck and a Screen Porch on a large section of the lower level. They selected the Screeneze Screening System for durability with a clean look. We love how it turned out. We hope our homeowners enjoy relaxing views and quality time in their outdoor living space.

Articles written and complied by Natalie Hall. Natalie is Bear Creek Outdoor Living’s Marketing Manager. She is passionate about helping people enjoy the outdoors. She is an avid runner and hiker. She loves simple adventures to explore nature with her husband and three children.

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