Tuesday, December 17, 2019

2019 - In Review

I've been writing these year-end recaps for several years now. In them, I try to come up with a word or idea to contextualize that year's adventures. It's a mere device, an ex-post-facto imposition, to somehow tell a story about the year.

This year, that's a real challenge. It was such a good year - such a diverse year. I walked on well-maintained trails in hardwood forest and picked my way through barren badlands, walked through rain forests and deserts, down road shoulders and trail-less ridgelines. I hiked trails that don't exist, trails that really don't exist, and full-blown National Scenic Trails. Yep, that's it. 2019 was the year of diverse experiences. 

Whew, now that we got that out of the way, let's hit the stats:

  • Pairs of shoes: 6
  • Zippers split: 3
  • Tents purchased: 1
  • Tents destroyed: 1
  • Sleeping pads popped: 1
  • Sleeping pads repaired: 1
  • Platypus bottles used: 8
  • Pieces of gear mailed: infinite
  • Dollars spent on "building out" my crappy, beat-up Subaru: 30
  • Interest I have in discussing complicated hipster #vanlife projects: zero

  • Long-distance hikes: 2 (Route In Between, Oregon Coast Trail)
  • Medium-length backpacking trips: 2 (Sand Diego Trans-county Trail, Ozark Highlands Trail) 
  • Short backpacking trips: 6
  • Miles hiked: 3,600+
  • States visited: 19
  • National Parks visited:7
  • National Park units visited: at least 19 (though I'm almost certainly forgetting a few)
  • State parks visited: dozens
  • Solo trips:7
  • Trips with friends: 3

  • Highest elevation: 11,014' (Manti Skyline)
  • Lowest elevation: -236' (Salton Sea)
  • Highest point (metaphorical): Cruising the crest of the Bitterroot Range (Idaho Centennial Trail)
  • Lowest point (metaphorical): Thrashing up almost impassible trail, in the rain, with giardia (Idaho Centennial Trail)
  • Longest full day, in miles: 33 (Arizona Trail)
  • Shortest full day, in miles: 14 (Deseret Hiking Route)
  • Most consecutive days without seeing a human: 6 (Idaho Centennial Trail)
  • Longest waterless stretch: 25 miles (Deseret Hiking Route across the Snake River Plain)
  • Lightest packweight: 7 lbs (Golden Cathedral Loop)
  • Heaviest packweight: 35 lbs (Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho Centennial Trail)
  • Hassled by cops: 3
  • Given rides by cops: 2
  • Rode in the back seat of a cop car, screaming down a 2-lane highway at 90 mph with lights and sirens blaring: 1
  • Hitchhiked: 15
  • Hitchhiked with people who drove many miles out of their way to help me: 5
  • Randomly picked up by friends while hitchhiking: 2
  • Rode Greyhound: 2
  • Regretted Greyhound: 2
  • Rode Amtrak: 2

Animal Encounters:
  • Reprimanded strangers about their unleashed and aggressive dogs: 3
  • Pulled bear spray on an unleashed and aggressive dog: 1
  • Jumped into the bed of a passing pickup truck to avoid a confrontation with an unleashed and aggressive dog: 1
  • Perfectly fine encounters with well-behaved dogs: dozens 
  • Gila monsters: 3
  • Rattlesnakes: 13
  • Cows: infinite
  • Cows I thought were bears: 1
  • Actual bears: 3!!!!!! (including one grizzly)
  • Wolves: 1
  • Wolverines: 1
  • Overprotective coyote mommas: 1
  • Wild pigs: 10

Human Encounters:
  • Showed up on a relative's doorstep with a backpack: 2
  • Showed up on a friend's doorstep with a backpack: 5
  • Trail angels stayed with: 3
  • Invited home to share a meal: 2
  • Offered money by strangers who thought I was homeless: 3
  • Helped stack firewood into somebody's pickup: 2
  • 2018 CDT friends randomly bumped into on trail: 3

  • Sleeping bag nights: 206
  • Sprinklers turned on inside my tent in the middle of the night: 1
  • Bathrooms slept in:7
  • Favorite campsite: high in the Wasatch Mountains watching the sun set over Mt. Timpanogos
  • Least favorite campsite: waterlogged marshy area in a pouring rainstorm in north Idaho
  • Camped on the beach: 5
  • Cowboy camped: dozens
  • Rained on while cowboy camping: 1

Anyway, onto the trips!

In January, I began an extended road trip with interspersed backpacking trips, starting with a rainy hike of the San Diego Trans County Trail.

Later in the month, I did quick trips in Joshua Tree National Park....

...and Big Bend National Park.

February featured a lot of wet feet. I hiked chilly Aravaipa Canyon with my sister as part of our annual siblings trip....

...and visited the world-famous Havasu Falls with my friend Jamal.

March brought one last phase of my road trip: a hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Overall, I enjoyed the "road trip" phase of 2019. I was able to experience a multitude of different environments and reunited with friends and relatives.

Near the end of March, I began the Route In Between at the US-Mexico border, following the Arizona Trail...

...continuing northward as the calendar turned to April.

On the first of May, I finished the Arizona Trail at the Utah/Arizona border, and began the next phase of the Route In Between: the Deseret Hiking Route.

I followed the DHR northward through deep snowpack in the upper elevations. Slow progress and constant snowstorms prompted me to take a break for several weeks and let the snow melt. Rather than sitting around, I headed out to Oregon to hike the Oregon Coast Trail.

In June, I finished up the Oregon Coast Trail...

...and returned to central Utah where I had left off, resuming my journey northward on the DHR.

As June turned into July, things finally started to melt out as I continued north through the Wasatch Range into southern Idaho.

In August, I completed the DHR and moved onto the final phase of the RIB, the Idaho Centennial Trail.

In September, after almost six months of hiking, I completed the RIB in the panhandle of Idaho, a stone's throw from the Canadian border. The Route In Between really exceeded even my high expectations. What a wonderful hike!

In October, I took a quick trip with my buddy Justin into the drainage of the Escalante River....

...and in November I hiked from Moab to Canyonlands via a Hayduke Trail alternate.

Grateful to God for a safe and rewarding year in the outdoors. I look forward to 2020 with excitement!

Previous years in review: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014

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