This year, for the first time, I went on a backcountry trip all by my lonesome. It had been way too long since I had been in the woods and it was time to go, even in lieu of the holiday.
It was fantastic to get back in the woods and get a "reset" from life. There is nothing like being alone for miles and miles.
One thing that absolutely gets under my skin is finding birch trees with strips of their bark cut off. Giant sections of their "skin" missing because someone knows that the bark is easy to light on fire. Get with it. You can find tons of it on the ground along with stuff that works even better for tinder, e.g. fallen birds' nests. Don't go hack up a tree. Thanks.
The Light My Fire Swedish Fire Steel is fantastic. Love this little guy. If you get one, make sure to get the "army" version. The flint is much more robust and will leave you with more strikes and more powerful spark showers.
Again, the New Balance OTB Abyss II boots. I can't say enough good things about them. I was walking in and out of creeks with them, up and down slippery grades, loose sand, essentially anything you'd guess would be in the backcountry and they were wonderful. Completely soaked, all the way through, dry by morning the next day for more hiking. Brilliant, brilliant boots.