Sunday, December 16, 2018

2018 - In Review

Think of it just in terms of National Parks. In 2018, I hit eight different National Parks, most of them part of the "inner circle" of true American classics: The Grand Canyon. Zion. Rocky Mountain. Yellowstone. Glacier. Add in Death Valley and my personal all-time favorite, Capitol Reef, and that's already an unforgettable year.

But wait, there's more! Only about 10% of my hiking this year was inside a National Park. And that 90% was usually just as remarkable as the stuff in the parks. I am truly, truly blessed. But before we get to far, here are the stats, per usual:

  • Shoes destroyed: 5 pairs
  • Broken backpack buckles: 3
  • Containers of DEET: 3
  • Ice axes: 2
  • Orange hiking shirts: 1 (vaguely resembles Swiss cheese at this point)
  • Containers of Aquamira water treatment drops: 5
  • "Indestructible" DarnTough hiking socks shredded: 4 pairs

  • Long-distance hikes completed: 2 (Continental Divide Trail, Hayduke Trail)
  • Medium-length backpacking trips: 2 (Uinta Highline Trail, Lowest to Highest Route)
  • Short backpacking trips: 6
  • Sleeping bag nights: 190
  • Miles hiked: 3,700
  • States visited: 8
  • National Parks visited: 8
  • Solo Trips: 6
  • Trips with friends: 4

  • State highpoints: 3 (Colorado, Utah, California)
  • State lowpoints: 1 (California)
  • Highest elevation: 14,505' (Mt. Whitney)
  • Lowest elevation: -282' (Badwater Basin)
  • Highest point (metaphorical): Reaching Canada (Chief Mountain, CDT)
  • Lowest point (metaphorical): Intestinal distress, in the rain, surrounded by ravenous hordes of mosquitos (Cochetopa Hills, CDT)
  • Longest full day, in miles: 36 (Great Divide Basin, CDT)
  • Shortest full day, in miles: 8.4 (Saddle Canyon, Hayduke)
  • Most consecutive days without seeing a human: 3.5 (Bootheel of New Mexico, CDT)
  • Longest waterless stretch: 60 miles (North of the Grand Canyon, Hayduke)
  • Heaviest packweight: 41 pounds (Grand Canyon, Hayduke)
  • Lightest packweight: 7 pounds (Route X)

  • Months snowed on: All of them except July
  • Latest snowstorm: June 30
  • Earliest snowstorm: August 28 
  • Fourteeners summited: 2:
  • Thirteeners summited: a whole bunch

Number of times:

  • Stopped by a backcountry ranger: 2
  • Stopped by a police officer: 2
  • Had my information run by a police officer: 1
  • Educated said police officer about what all these scruffy vagrants are doing in his town: 1 
  • Got a hitch from a police officer: 1
  • Acquired backcountry permits: 5
  • Hitchhiked: 20
  • Rode the Greyhound: 2
  • Regretted the Greyhound: 2
  • Woke up screaming to a car bearing down on me: 2 (unrelated to the Greyhound misadventures)

  • Packets of tuna: ~250
  • Pop Tarts: 0
  • Clif Bars: 2 (first time in 5+ years)
  • Sticks of string cheese: ~750
  • Resupply boxes mailed: 10
  • Favorite food: precooked bacon
  • Most hated food: those nasty granola bars I got at the sketchy food emporium
  • Cans of pop given: 3
  • Cans of beer given: 5
  • Cans of beer found abandoned on the side of the road: 3
  • Invited to share a meal: 1

Wildlife encounters:
  • Elk: hundreds
  • Moose: 6 
  • Gila monsters: 1
  • Bighorns: 2
  • Pronghorns: hundreds
  • Bears: still, forever, and always zero.

Ok, enough of the silliness. On to the trips!

In January, I hiked a wonderful route in Slickhorn Canyon, in the once-and-hopefully-future Bears Ears National Monument.

In March, I finished the Hayduke Trail (Sections 10-14), looping through the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.

In April, while still in Zion, I hiked the world-famous Narrows of the Virgin River...

...and then headed down to New Mexico to start the adventure of a lifetime, the Continental Divide Trail.

In May, I finished New Mexico and entered Colorado by midmonth...

 ...and while waiting for some lingering snow to melt, took a side trip back to Slickhorn with some other CDT hikers.

In June, I continued northward through the mountains of Colorado, crossing into Wyoming just before month's end.

In July, I hiked through the Great Divide Basin, the Wind River Range, and Yellowstone National Park. 

The entirety of August was spent in Idaho and Montana, dodging fires closures and eating entirely too much food.

I walked into Glacier National Park on the first of September, and finally finished the CDT on the 4th, after 148 days on trail. 

Later in the month, I did a version of the Uinta Highline Trail with a few bells and whistles...

...and hiked the Lowest to Highest of Salt Lake County.

In October, I hiked the Lowest to Highest Route from Death Valley to the Sierra Nevada...

...and a lovely little route in the Escalante area of southern Utah. 

In November, I explored the lower end of Dark Canyon...

...and began an extended road trip and car camping extravaganza, beginning in SE Utah.

It's always a challenge to recognize just how good you have it.. But I can say with some confidence that this has been the year of a lifetime. I am very, very blessed. And Lord willing, 2019 should bring even more adventures. 

See past "Years in Review": 2017, 2016, 2014

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