Though more pedantic people will correctly state the decade does not officially end until Dec 31st, 2020, most people will conclude that the decade comes to an end at midnight tonight.
And that is how I feel as well. It is the 2010s, afterall.
And though we can argue about what is mathematically correct, I think on a cultural level most will agree this decade ends this evening.
As such, I am following the example of some friends and giving ten outdoor events that defined an aspect of my life for me. One for each year from 2010 through 2019. They are not necessarily the most exciting trip of the year, but I feel this trip encapsulates an essential part of my outdoor experience over the years.
If I learned anything in the past decade, it is that the outdoors for me is not a place for athletic accomplishment to check off a box or to add a string of letters behind my name; it is a place where I gain my deepest love and passion. And where I have been fortunate enough to share this love and passion with others while out in these wild spaces.
So here are ten outdoor places over the past ten years that means the most to me,
2010 – Pawnee Buttes
As Colorado became crowded, I looked East for my wildness; I became enamored with the High Plains. The empty spaces, the stark beauty, and the isolation all appealed to me. And the more I explore this area, the more I realized how striking I continued to find the High Plains.
2011 – High and Lonesome Loop, Indian Peaks Wildnerness
I called Colorado home for nearly twenty years. And I spent much of this time backpacking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness less than an hour from my house. And often with good friends. I don’t remember too much of the time I spent in cubicles, but I do remember much of the time I spent with my friends outdoors.
As my IT career became more demanding of my free time, the week-long trips I gave myself grew in importance. Immersing myself in the wild places proved to be my relief and let me retain a crucial part of my life: Enjoying the outdoors.
I love ski touring. As I’ve told many people, I find it to be hiking on skis. And I also enjoy hut trips: A chance to enjoy good food, friendships, and the winter landscape. My outdoor time has only been enhanced by enjoying winter while on skis.
2014 – Hovenweep National Monument
Over the decade, I’ve developed a fascination with combining a love of history, looking at maps, spending time outdoors, and a bit of anthropology into exploring the wild places where others have come before us. And, much to my surprise over the years, I found that car camping allows for an excellent way to explore these multiple passions where backpacking is often not permitted.
2015 – Wild Rivers Recreation Area
I love northern New Mexico. The history, the blend of different cultures, the food, and the outdoor experience all speak to me. It is perhaps my favorite place in the world.
In 2016, I filed for divorce. The details do not matter.
All I know is that the outdoors always provided solace for me. And a place to figure out the next part of my life. And exploring the Badlands in winter meant being able to see this scenic wonder in both solitude and when the scenery is arguably at its most striking.
2017 – Walking Across Southern Utah
In 2017, I fired myself from IT. And I celebrated my newfound freedom by walking across Utah. Much like my Appalachian Trail hike in 1998, my Walk Across Southern Utah proved to be a watershed moment. Before walking across Utah, and after. And of all my long hikes, I think my hike across Utah may be my favorite one.
Though I hiked the GDT and spent a year on the road seeing some amazing sights, moving to Moab and starting a new life will always be the highlight of last year. I have some world-class scenery right from my door. And I get to share it all with Joan.
2019 – Northern New Mexico Loop
As I mentioned above, I love New Mexico. And being able to walk 500-miles through it made for an excellent way to see this area. This walk also validated that I simply love to hike and be outside. Not for any athletic achievement to check off or letters behind my name, but simply for exploring the wild places and the culture, people, and history around it.
The past decade has been full of outdoor delights and many wild places. Let’s see what the next ten years bring!
Paul, have I told you how much I admire you and your acomplishments ? I wish you all the best life has in store for you and a future filled with love, happiness and wonderful experiences.. God Bless, stay safe and have a beautiful New Year.. My love to Joan …. Dad