2023 in review

Another year of making Moab our home for the foreseeable future. We’ve expanded our community, continued to put down roots, and enjoyed where we live.

Of course, many people from our past lives visited us with 14 house guests this past year. Moab’s a popular place to come to and fro!

Joan, always the scientist in her past life and in her heart, keeps track of our bag nights. Altogether, we’ve spent over eighty nights in a sleeping bag. That includes a bout of COVID that gave me a nasty cold equivalent for one weekend but hit Joan harder with flu-like symptoms and tiredness for about a month.

Luckily, we live in a gorgeous area, and our casual day trips did not disappoint.

I started a new job that will increase my vacation time and give me frequent three and four-day weekends that align with Joan’s schedule. We hope to get closer to 100 bag nights again this coming year!

Of course, we had many memorable trips this past year, even before I started my new employment in June.


  • A very significant highlight included Joan finishing her PCT hike after an injury in 2014 with fires and the COVID shutdowns, throwing a wrench in the works to complete the trail. She’s incredible (and plans on hiking the Colorado Trail this coming year.)


  • Joan also had a memorable spring break trip to Arizona with her good friend Jan.

PCO Joan.

  • We did lose some “bag nights” because of a vacation with Joan’s family in the inside passage of Alaska. Her parents always dreamed of an Alaskan cruise. It was not our usual trip (!), but we did get some hiking with some admittedly great views in the port towns. We enjoyed spending time with Joan’s folks and her sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. I get along awesomely with my in-laws and am grateful they accepted me into their family.

…and sometimes even with goats!


  • As typical, we escaped the summer heat with trips to the La Sals, the Abajos, and the nearby San Juans.

  • We also started spending more time in the San Rafael Swell. This area just to the north and west of us is convenient for meeting friends from Salt Lake and a place we need to immerse ourselves in more.

Overall, a great year spent in the outdoors!

EDIT – And I managed to close out 2023 with one last trip and started 2024 with a canyon rim sunrise. A good sign of things to come?


The Online World

Unsurprisingly, I get roughly half the views I received in 2018 vs. now. (Though my Instagram views grow steadily…)

I write a lot less…and I go out much more consistently than I ever did when I wrote more frequently during my bad old days of working far too much at a corporate software job. (A correlation???)

A worthy trade-off!

I heard the Factually! Podcast recently about social media, influencers, and how many people essentially provide free content for well-known providers for dubious and rare, payouts.

As I said before, I like my modest but respected place in the hiking world.

I don’t chase gear review clicks, play with SEO algorithms, or spend hours editing videos; I write when and how I want to and put some lovely photos up.

If I had to pick one article to summarize my overall view of this game? It would be my recently updated one Top Ten Reasons Why Top Ten Gear Lists (Mostly) Suck.

Moving along, my most popular articles stayed consistent. The Montbell puffy reviews seem to get referenced every year, as do the Paradox layers from Costco,  and the budget gear list also appears to strike a chord. I get pleasure from seeing my quick and dirty pulk idea, which seems well-referenced, too.

For new articles, the annual look at the gear we liked piqued people’s interest with its mix of budget, cottage, and higher-end picks.

I’ll continue to plug away, participate in online discussions, and share my thoughts. And get out as many nights as possible in a given year.

Here’s to a great 2024!

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5 months ago

I appreciate you continuing to post written articles even if readership has fallen off. It feels like a lot of medium to long-form essays have migrated from written content to video in the last five years or so, chasing where the ad dollars are. My brain parses the two very differently and I’m grateful for the small bloggers in the hiking/outdoor space who continue to put out written content.

5 months ago

Great year, Paul+Joan. Sounds like a wonderful ’23 has you on a trajectory for a wonderful ’24.

The content on this site and others like it continue to be of far greater value to me than any of the hyperconsumeristic content on the socials. I’m sorry this format has fallen out of fashion. It’s important to remember that future extraterrestrial archeologists (charged with piecing together an account of humanity’s fall and extinction) will regard Pmags.com as having set the high watermark for the outdoor blogging subculture of the early 21st century.

5 months ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

Well, the review pics would have been entertaining! PCO Joan.

john R maxwell
john R maxwell
5 months ago

bravo! well lived.

5 months ago

Thanks, Paul, for all your posts despite readership being down. I look forward to them, and tho I rarely comment, I read each one from top to bottom! I love the photos of the canyons, rivers, panels by those who came before, you and Joan, your camp sites, and yes, the gear. All the best for a rewarding and safe New Year.