It was a different sort of year.
Short but Sweet
For various reasons, I didn't have the opportunity to take as many trips in 2016 as I did in the past few years. I don't regret my choices in the slightest (overall 2016 was a terrific year, and not just from an outdoor perspective), but because I took fewer trips, I had to make them count.
Routes versus Trails
Over the past few years, I've gravitated toward a different sort of hiking. Rather than following defined trails, this choose-your-own-adventure style of hiking uses trails, canyon bottoms, dirt roads, friendly ridges, and cross-country travel to get from Point A to Point B.
2016 was the banner year for this kind of travel. Of the 11 overnight backpacking trips I did this year, only two of them followed trails the whole time. Another two followed well-defined canyons and common travel routes. The remainder, the majority, involved cross-country travel, route-finding, and general exploring. This sense of exploration, the next step in my development as a hiker, has been extremely rewarding.
Not just Backpacking...
Lest you think I'm a one-trick-pony (ok fine, I'm totally a one-trick-pony), I had a very enjoyable year's worth of non-backpacking activity as well. Whether it was finally knocking the Triple Traverse day hike off my list, taking a backcountry avalanche class, car camping in the desert with some friends, I had a great time.
- Hiking shoes destroyed: 3 pair
- Shoelaces snapped in the backcountry: 6
- Trekking poles retired: 1 pair (finally - bought them prior to the AT in 2013)
- Dorky floppy hats worn: 1
- Fishing rods acquired: 1
- Fish caught: 2
- Overnight trips: 11
- Sleeping bag nights: 34
- Nights spent under the stars: 14
- Day hikes: I have no idea
- Wasatch peaks (10,000+) summited: 12
- States visited: 3
- National Parks visited: 2
- Solo trips:7
- Trips with friends: 4
- Permits required: 2
- Permits acquired: 1
- Highest point: Granite Peak, 12,799 feet
- Lowest point: Escalante River, 3800 feet
- Highest point (metaphorical): Cirque of the Towers, covered in early-season snowfall
- Lowest point (metaphorical): slipping and sliding through treacherous, sticky mud in Zion National Park
- Most days spent without seeing a human: 5
- Longest waterless stretch: 20 miles
- Heaviest packweight: 34 pounds (Hayduke Trail)
- Lightest packweight:7 pounds (Death Hollow)
- Longest Day: 21 miles, Leidy Peak Loop
- Shortest Day: 5.5 Miles, Beartooth Fun Route
Number of times...
- In zero-visibility situations above treeline: 2
- Hailed on: 3
- Snowed on: 1
- Spat on: 1 (by a llama)
- Above 12,000 feet: 4
- Hitchhiking: 6
- Picking up hitchhikers: 4
- Disturbed by goats: 2
- Disturbed by humans: 1
Enough of the bloviation. Photo time!
In January, I enjoyed a subtle but beautiful hike in Zion, and some treacherous and not-so-subtle mud.
In May, I visited Death Hollow, an instant favorite in the Escalante area.
In June, I completed a loop over Delano Peak in the Tushars of central Utah.
In July, I hiked a sublime route in the eastern Uintas...
...and another beautiful route in the central Uintas.
In August I did a quick overnighter in the western Uintas...
...and the most amazing trip I've ever taken, the Beartooth Fun Route.
In September, I hiked a loop around/over Wind River Peak...
...and a quick-hitter around the perimeter of Brighton Ski Area in the Wasatch.
In October I hiked a section of the Hayduke trail through south-central Utah...
...and in November I hiked Little Death Hollow.
I'd say it's been a good year. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. Happy New Years!