And just like that, 2019 is upon me and 2018 seems like a distant memory. It seems like yesterday I was sitting down to write out my list of adventure goals for the upcoming year and here I am, sifting back through my journals, reliving the good times of the year that has past. In 2018, I wanted to slow down, be present, enjoy good food and hearty laughs with friends and family, and to seek out new places and adventures that get my heart pumping. Safe to say, I accomplished all that and more.
My year was not filled with many weekend trips, but a handful of longer excursions which led me down deep, unexplored roads, and gave me an opportunity to make the most of the places I visited instead of rushing through them. Though my life was busy this year, it was full of excitement and love. Planning my wedding halfway across the world was an endeavor in and of itself, and marrying my best friend; well that may just be the best adventure ever. My blog took a bit of a back burner during my busy months, but I have no shortage of stories and laughs to share in the upcoming months as I look back and relive some epic trails and tales. So stay tuned.
I started my year off with what I thought would be a casual spring hiking trip to Virginia, taking in some of the AT’s flashiest locations. That trip turned into one of the most brutal but rewarding “winter” adventures I’ve done to date. It was also the trip that I discovered the healing power of backpacking quesadillas (queserdillers to be exact!). I got to spend time exploring my own backyard in the UP of Michigan. I’ve lived here for almost 10 years and have not taken in all that Michigan has to offer. It served up some serious gems. Cooking gourmet meals and enjoying wine lakeside were some of my favorite memories. Spring brought about a spur of the moment trip to Washington’s Enchantments; a place I had known nothing about, but now want to know everything about. It was an epic trip of friendship and the power of strong, adventurous women who lift each other up… and what a better place to do that, then on an epic hike in a such a beautiful spot. My summer rounded out with a trip back to one of my favorite states; Utah. But this time exploring some new parks and trying out some different activities. From roaming in the wildflower fields of mountainous Salt Lake City, to catapulting myself off a giant arch, and ramping off the sandstone on two wheels. Moab and the surrounding areas offered so much more than adventure, but an opportunity to disconnect from the rush of civilization, and to reconnect with nature. My year ended on a chill note; a winter backpacking get away with a group of amazing friends, sharing drinks, amazing food and laughs around an epic campfire.
So here they are in no particular order, a picture book of some of my favorite moments, successes and adventures in 2018.
- Learning about perseverance and patience while climbing to McAfee Knob: on the AT in the midst of an unexpected raging snowpocalypse. It may have been too damn windy and cold to stay at the knob for more than a minute, but it was an epic reward of views for two days worth of suffering it out in knee-deep snow.
Sunrise Mountain Biking in Dead Horse State Park: Taking advantage of the coolest part of the day during a Utah desert summer. Dead Horse state park is a little slice of paradise, away from hoards of crowds, great biking trails and a sunrise that rivals all others in the area.
3. Rappelling off of Morning Glory Arch and Ephedras Grotto in Arches National Park: One of the coolest places to hike into in the park for a peaceful little oasis in the desert. But the 120 foot rappel between the arch and the canyon wall is a thriller.
4. Relaxing at the most epic backcountry, lakeside campsites in Michigan’s UP: You will have to do a bit of exploring to find these gems, but the work it well worth the reward.
5. Hiking in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore without the crowds or the bugs: Turns out that early June ended up being the perfect time of year to have this backcountry location all to ourselves. While the weather may always be a gamble this early in the season, Mother Nature blessed us with 3 days of perfect weather, sweet sunsets, and bug free solitude.
6. Working on perfecting my backcountry cooking skills: Tried my hand a few new dehydrated meals this year as well as carrying a cast iron into the backcountry for campfire brownies, and fondue. Don’t forget perfecting the classics; loaded baked potatoes, quesadillas and campfire pizza.
7. Backcountry kayaking for the first time: Kayaking is pretty new to me, but that didn’t stop us from loading up a tandem kayak and making a journey to a backcountry island in Michigan’s UP for a totally epic adventure. While a kayak will never replace my love for the canoe, I am thinking of trying another kayak adventure soon !
8. Dinner by sunset atop Spy Rock on the AT: The thing about Virginia’s trails is that you can climb a lot of uphill and never catch a view. This isn’t the case for Spy Rock. The payout in views for the miles hiked makes this a real winner. And that sunset though…
9. Picnic lunches and day hikes at Colchuck lake in the Enchantments: For a place I’d never heard of until I got here, it sure did enchant me. I can’t wait to get back here, hopefully with this great group!
10. Okay, okay, hands down this is my favorite adventure of 2018. No explanation needed. 🙂
2018 was one for the memory books. It’s amazing how good it feels to slow down and take in every moment that presents itself out in nature. Because I’ve learned over the years, that’s what it’s all about for me ! What part of the adventure means the most to you? What’s in store for 2019? Share your thoughts !