Seems semi-mandatory to have a summary of the past year.
Here’s mine for 2016.
Does help clarify thoughts, goals and where I want to head in the year ahead.
Thanks for indulging me.
TL;DR version? A relationship ended, a pet passed on, both my outdoor related side-jobs and my day job have been busy, I went on more trips than I realized at first so shouldn’t complain, gear posts are more popular but not my favorite articles that I’ve written and I am still seeking that elusive balance!
Life in general
My day job career has been beyond busy at times.
A spate of weekend work and some night work cutting into my alleged free time. The days themselves are sometimes too busy and make it difficult to dedicate energy and time to my equally busy outdoor related pursuits.
I am tired at times basically.
I gave up working with a volunteer group and a podcast I used to co-host as the time bank funds were getting thin.
So it goes.
I am mid-career for both my day job and my passion it seems at the same time. Difficult to sustain the pace. We’ll see what happens in 2017.
On the other hand, twenty-two overnight trips were taken this year (some multi-day) and a smattering of day hikes and trail work outings were also taken. Guess I should not complain too much! But as I like to say: “I am trying to get out as much as possible…but that is never enough.”
A year of changes
Of course, 2016 had a significant change: A seven-year relationship came to an end. Personal plans were derailed a bit. But in the long run, it is the best for both of us. The relationship was over far longer than what official court paperwork would indicate. Neither one of us would admit as such at the time. Sorrow, anger and perhaps despair were all experienced more than a harmonious relationship since at least some time in 2015. A familiar story for many. Just seems more poignant when this life change happens to you directly.
I think we’ll both be happier now that we can pursue our own lives.
Seemingly less important at first, but impactful in its own way was the death of a small companion.
“Just a guinea pig” some would say. But pets have a way of sneaking into our lives regardless of size. Their affection, acceptance, and trusting nature are perhaps part of the reason why our animal companions mean so much to us.
Talking about a divorce and a pet as both life changes may seem odd.
But both of these events happened within months of each other. And both the pet and the relationship were part my former wife’s life and my life at almost the exact same time.
Two parts of our shared lives that started and ended within months of each other.
Make of that what you will.
Some interesting trips were taken.
At least for me.
I’ve been in Colorado since 1999. A fault of mine is that I seek newer places to explore and not always satisfied with old favorites.
Becoming harder to see new places esp without driving too far.
But I managed to find some gems.
Some the more memorable trips I’ve been on in 2016:
- I continue to explore the High Plains An overlooked ecosystem that is full of true wildness and much beauty. The local places were explored and savored. And I found some obscure areas outside of a day trip that were wonderful.
- Two obscure routes were hiked – Planning a hike, walking it and enjoying the scenery used to be called a backpacking trip. Now it has to have a designation and a formal name. 🙂
I walked the Sand Dunes to the high 14ers with Cam Honan. Some unique ecosystems in some rugged terrain along places that aren’t seen too much.
And later that year did a very obscure bit of wandering with Aaron of TrailGroove in the Wind River Range.
- Even when on-call, I try to get out Until I moved recently, there was a local bird sanctuary nearby that was my “go-to” place when I was on an electronic leash. Less than ten minutes drive from home, quiet, never crowded and with a strong cell phone signal. I truly enjoyed this place. And I found some rather pleasant views. The key is to get out. No matter how it is done.
- My friends and I had a good run of after work Wednesday hikes in the summer and into fall. Pretty lucky when I can be at 10,000 feet on a weekday, see a beautiful fall sunset or explore the foothills with friends. And then cap it off with beer.
- Perhaps my two favorite trips for 2016 were back to back – Two trips, in Wyoming , on either side of the Red Desert. The first trip was camping out by two obscure Wilderness Study Areas. In this wet spring, the Red Desert was blooming and beautiful. The rock formations were striking. A great trip with much isolation.
The Ferris Mountains backpacking trip shortly after was another memorable jaunt. The Ferris Mountains are an obscure range just north of Rawlins that has intrigued me for a while. Only a twenty-mile trip, but what twenty miles! No one was out there; navigation had to be dialed-in, and there was some difficult terrain. But it was a unique place and a place I was glad to experience finally.
- I made it to my Utah for my birthday – I enjoy spending my birthday in the backcountry. I don’t enjoy parties, birthday dinners in a restaurant or even gifts to celebrate another whirl around the sun. Give me the gift of time. Time that is spent in a beautiful and wild place.
Backpacking in Dark Canyon was the first part…
- Another New England visit occurred. First, my buddy Tim and I did a hike to the Bondcliffs in New Hampshire. It was great to see my old stomping grounds.
Even saw what is quickly turning into a favorite photo!
Later, I visited the family in Rhode Island. Some local hikes in RI were taken in between family visits and catching up with friends.
- A good amount of backpacking trips were on this past summer and fall. Both new places and old favorites with a twist.
- The Badlands were finally visited. A winter camping trip with lots of wildlife!
I did some hiking and also went a little more obscure than what most tourists see. But the trails in the park ain’t too shabby either.
The website grew in readership this past year. I suspect if I were not so busy this past fall, I’d have seen even more growth. September, October, and November had much-too-much, both professionally and personally, going on.
Both my outdoor time and my writing output suffered
But what I did write did seem to do well.
Biggest surprise? My Top Ten Shelters of All Time article did very well. This article was a tongue in cheek click-bait listicle. At least in part. Distressing how easy it is to write fluff pieces with no substance that do well just because of SEO dark magic. :O If I wrote more gear specific articles and went to the SEO dark side more often, this site would do “better.” I suppose. But that would be annoying as hell for me and not something I excel in, to be honest.
Of the articles I did write this year that did well, here are my personal favorites in no particular order:
- Puffies 101 – If there is gear discussion I do excel in, it is summarizing in broad overviews that educate rather than specific products. My Puffies 101, I think, helps clarify the different types of insulation and hopefully stop some of the kvetching when people complain their 10 oz jacket is not warm enough for winter. It’s not supposed to be.
- Paradox Costco thermals – Another surprise in terms of popularity. But I do like to write about budget options admittedly. The closely related pulk article did well, too.
- Posts about books – Very pleased about this trend. I love to read and share what I’ve learned. My gear pick of the year is a library card, after all. 🙂 Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Rodale Press was perhaps the most popular post for books this year.
- Wilderness issues articles – The posts of about such topics as light pollution, restriction of backcountry access, and corporate sponsorship of national parks were read a lot. The issues affecting the wild places is important to me and glad to see among all the gear love there is still a place to discuss how to protect the places that matter.
- Philosophical Musings – That’s the polite way to put my strong opinions. But thinking out loud and writing about it has struck a chord at times. Embrace the Weather, Who are you? , Pack Shakedowns, and GoFund Yourself were all popular rants, er musings. Who knew curmudgeon thoughts from an East Coast transplant would be well-received? 😀
- Getting started articles – Well all started somewhere in the outdoors. The link at the stop left of the page has proven to be among my most read resources. Twenty-years of outdoor fun, a few nights, some miles walked and a lot of writing in one distilled form. Star with this article I wrote this past year that was well received.
- The Quick Tip series has proven to be shared a lot via social media. Truck bivy? Some quick and dirty rules of thumb? Pre-packed meals for winter? Pleasantly surprised how popular the articles have been.
- And finally, I would have never guessed an article on Pecorino Romano cheese would be so popular! I’ve received photos of people who packed in the cheese because of my suggestion and they loved it. My Italian-American soul is amused. And some distant Roman ancestors are smiling!
What’s in store for 2017?
I truly do not know for the most part.
I do know trying to balance an increasingly busy day job with a ramped up set of outdoor related projects is becoming more difficult.
What I also know is that due to the recent life changes, a lot of friends I’ve made over the years have extended offers to visit them in Israel, Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Canada among other places. I think there is some traveling in store for 2017. In fact, I’m going to the Grand Canyon come March!
The past year had some bumps, some changes and was a lot busier than I would have liked.
But it is all part of life.