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
- 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
- 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....
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