I’ve always seem to be here or there over the last decade, but damn, 2022 was a doozy! What a year, what a year!!
Nine states (including the District of Columbia – new for me!). Thirty new National Park Service units. 52 Hike Challenge blown out of the water and completed months ahead of schedule. Master Traveler Gold with the National Park Travelers’ Club. Let’s take a little review…
January is what kicked off the year of adventure. On a whim (and thanks to a good sale from Southwest), I hopped a plane to Portland, OR to reconnect with a friend, Eric, I had not seen in almost a decade. We explored and camped above the Columbia River Gorge, explored a lava tube, snowshoed at Mount Hood, and capped it off with some tubing before I headed home. Sometimes you just have to buy that plane ticket and commit to wearing only mountaineering boots for entire long weekend!
February started off with me showing Eric around my corner of Wyoming and Colorado, with snowshoeing at Corner Mountain in the Snowies, seeing roadside attractions like Tree in the Rock, and hiking Greyrock Mountain in Poudre Canyon. We then teamed up with my friend Marie for a wintry summit of Mount Quandary, my first 14er in calendar winter. I then hopped on a plane to Portland, OR, where Eric picked me up. We explored Seven Falls State Park before meeting up with more friends for an overnight backpacking adventure at Crater Lake National Park. We explored the Oregon coast a bit, and I got to fall asleep hearing the ocean! I flew straight from Portland to Phoenix for a work conference – talk about climate whiplash! I came home and did my first and only ski day of the season at Snowy Range… after sustaining a grade 2 ankle sprain while brushing snow off my car. Ski boots make a good cast, right?
March mostly started out pretty boring, but the end marked the start of an eleven day adventure I dubbed the “Bea-UTAH-ful Bucket List” adventure. Eric drove to Wyoming, picked me up, and we begun touring all the things, squeezing in Curecanti National Recreation Area, Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Bryce Canyon National Park before heading to Las Vegas to begin a fourteen mile overnight kayak trip down the Colorado River from the Hoover Dam. We camped in strange places, often rolling in after dark, and ate plenty of tailgate sandwiches.
The first few days of April was spent on the road wrapping up the big adventure in the southwest, with the conclusion of the kayak trip and heading through Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Dinosaur National Monument. I finished out April by continuing to hike every weekend as I trained for a Mount Saint Helens summit attempt in May. My very best cycling friend, Tom, came on a hike with me and realized hiking wasn’t all that bad, either! Tom and I explored Crosier Mountain one weekend, and another weekend I was able to hit a weather window to reach the twin summits on Twin Sisters in Rocky Mountain National Park.
At very end of April I flew out to Seattle to spend a week leading up to my much anticipated jaunt up Mount Saint Helens. Eric and I spent the first weekend I was in town exploring the Olympic Peninsula and nooks and crannies of Olympic National Park, including Second Beach, Lake Quinault, Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, and Hurricane Ridge. I also earned my very first Junior Ranger badge! The much delayed blog on those adventures is coming up soon! I fretted as weather reports came in, and with that the realization that we would not even try summiting Mount Saint Helens on our permit date as 38″ of snow was predicted to fall. I was super bummed out as we scrambled to make other plans. We ended up doing an overnight trip that started off by exploring Point Wilson Lighthouse and Glass Beach, camping at an amazing spot, and then hiking Mount Rose with Eric’s friend Jen.
I came back from Washington and headed straight to Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park so I could get some use from my crampons and ice axe. Then over Memorial Day weekend I took a day trip to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska and Fort Laramie, hiked Stone & Sheep Mountains, rode my bike a little around Cheyenne, and then mountain biked in literal freezing temperatures at Happy Jack as the weather took an interesting turn.
I started out June by nabbing my first two 13ers, Cupid and Grizzly Peak D. After two back to back work trips to the northern end of Wyoming, I took a weekend to journey out to hike Laramie Peak, finally checking that one off the list! I filled the rest of the month with bike rides until I flew back to Seattle for what I was expecting to be redemption with Mount Saint Helens. First weekend would be a trip up Mount Adams, another one of Washington’s volcanoes. Things went well on day one with the climb up with a heavy pack to the Lunch Counter. And then… well, if after a few years I was going to come down with COVID19, I guess I had to do it in a big way! We attempted the summit of Mount Adams, but I was in no condition for things, and we turned around. Things got scary, SAR got slightly involved, but I got myself off the damn mountain. Needless to say Mount Saint Helens was a no-go for the second time, and I spent a week grateful to be sick at sea level.
July 2nd should’ve been my summit date of Mount Saint Helens, but alas… I headed back to my high elevation home, and my COVID took another turn for the worse (I have asthma, and omicron variant hammered asthmatics). I spent yet another week trying to recover. Once I was well enough to be up walking around I spent a weekend with my friend Sarah, who dragged me up Mount Sanitas (bad idea, my lungs died a thousand deaths) followed by a bit of a flatter hike at Caribou Ranch Open Space. As I slowly recovered, I headed back to high altitude and did my favorite up to Medicine Bow Peak and tagged the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain while I was there.
With a mid-week day off for a local holiday, I teamed up with Tom and we summited 14er Mount Sherman and two of its 13er buddies, Gemini Peak and Mount Sheridan. I rounded out the month by sweeping for the Laramie Range Epic – a new way to enjoy mountain bike racing!
August was filled with lots of hikes as I focused on being ready for Longs Peak at the end of the month. Sarah and I hiked to Flattop Mountain (blog coming soon), and Tom and I completed a loop around the alpine lakes of the Bear Lake area in Rocky Mountain National Park (blog also coming up). I had a week long work trip where I did a few short hikes in Thermopolis. I attempted Heart Mountain by Cody, but just a few miles in I saw a rattlesnake and got really freaked out and decided to turn around. It was a hike I decided was doomed at the beginning – it was nearly 100 degrees, I was solo in grizzly country, and I was getting a much later start than I was anticipating and was racing the sun. The rattlesnake was the cherry on the top! I also finished out the National Park Service units in Wyoming with Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
The end of August marked the Longs Peak adventure. I had secured permits for two weekday nights in the Boulderfield, and Tom and I decided to make this a multi-night backpacking adventure. I had three goal summits for 2022 – Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Longs Peak. We know how the first two didn’t pan out, so I was nervous about Longs Peak. What ended up happening was an amazing three days with absolutely perfect weather, no symptoms of altitude sickness, and getting to do my summit cartwheel on a mountain I look at all the time!
I didn’t hike in September! Whoa! But I did spend a lot of time on my mountain bike and enjoying the fact Wyoming was apparently have a real fall for once. I flew out to Virginia for a conference, and added in a personal day so I could drag my colleague all around as many National Park Service units in Washington, DC, as I could in one and a half days. I ended up with just a handful we didn’t see, and we topped it off with lots of yummy food (and the conference wasn’t so bad, either). I rounded out September with a great day on the Medicine Bow Rail Trail with Tom, enjoying the fall colors, before embarking on a short trip up to Yellowstone National Park so I could say I went there during the 150th anniversary.
Eric flew out to enjoy Yellowstone with me, and we squeezed in a lot during our four days in the park, including hiking Mount Washburn. Despite it being my third trip to Yellowstone in as many years, I managed to find stuff even I hadn’t seen yet! We also quickly explored Grand Teton National Park.
I spent a week in Casper for work, where I explored the Bridle Trail one evening (this will be blogged eventually). Otherwise I feel like I started to slip into a winter hibernation mode where I usually only had an “adventure” one day out of a weekend. I did squeeze in one last hike in the Snowies before the snow stuck to Gap and Shelf Lakes. I also took a weekday off and explored the Red Feather Lakes area, hiking to Disappointment Falls and driving what seemed to be endless forest roads to the Deadman Fire Lookout (blog upcoming). Tom and I managed to be some of the last people to enjoy the (closed) Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park on the day we rode our bikes up Old Fall River Road. Trail Ridge Road ended up closing that evening for snow that rolled in, and stayed closed for the season.
First few days of November I was in Atlanta, Georgia for a work conference. I managed to squeeze in a very short visit to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, my 54th NPS unit. I was happy to enjoy a “second fall,” since the leaves had long died in Wyoming. Upon arriving back home I spent one day volunteering at Cross of the North, and briefly came out of the Retired Washed Up Bike Racers’ Home and entered one of the races. Yep, still do not like racing bicycles anymore, but it was great seeing all my old cycling buddies again, and the heckles about hiking and mountaineering were spot on! As I continued deeper into my lazy cozy mode, I did a hike through Greyrock Meadows one day and once my snowshoes arrived from the REI sale, enjoyed a big loop to the Loch, Haiyaha Lake, Nymph Lake, and Bear Lake in Rocky National Park in a truly winter wonderland scene.
I kicked off December by doing something a bit out of my norm – joining a group from a Facebook 14ers group for a winter overnight in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The trip to Lake Isabelle was the epitome of Type 2 fun with the weather (high winds and heavy snow), but I got to see some new territory and make some new friends. My favorite hiking buddy Tom and I ventured to Cub Lake and The Pool in Rocky Mountain National Park mid-month, a new to us area that was fun to explore, all the while tossing around ideas for a 13er summit for sunset on New Year’s Eve. For the holidays I was on the alpine skis and did a bit of fat biking. Plans had to pivot for New Year’s Eve thanks to winter weather (the horror!), so no 13ers… but Horsetooth Rock would be a nice substitute!
It’s really hard to summarize a year in just a few paragraphs, but there you are!
It’ll be hard to top 2022 for sure! Fortunately (I suppose), I have to use at least 121 hours of vacation leave (!!!!) in order not to lose it next year, so I have motivation for getting out of the office! First big plan is a trip through the rest of Colorado’s NPS units I have to visit (at least for the first time as an adult) with a few in New Mexico ones thrown in, along with the high point of Oklahoma and Kansas hopefully. So looking at:
- Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
- Curecanti National Recreation Area (repeat)
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park (first time as an adult)
- Canyon of the Ancients National Monument (BLM managed)
- Hovenweep National Monument
- Yucca House National Monument
- Aztec Ruins National Monument (will be my third visit)
- Chimney Rock National Monument (USFS managed)
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (first time as an adult, and first time to the preserve part)
- Capulin Volcano National Monument
- Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
- Amache National Historic Site (authorized, but not fully established with NPS at this time, but since I’m there…)
- Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
- Mount Sunflower – Kansas high point
- Black Butte – Oklahoma high point
Whew. That’s a crazy list now that I have typed it all out! The trip has turned into a lot of “well, since I’m in the area… and when am I ever going to be in this area again?!” No offense to eastern Colorado and Oklahoma, but those are places I’m not often visiting… I digress. I have camping already reserved at the south rim of Black Canyon and at Zapata Falls Campground near Great Sand Dunes, so things are falling into place!
Second big trip I have planned is barely planned, but long story short… I turn 40 the day before a total annular solar eclipse, so I am working on plans to be in Great Basin National Park for that, after visiting all the Idaho NPS units (aside from one), and a few that I have left in Utah. Lot’s of driving, but exciting to think I’ll finally get to Craters of the Moon and Great Basin NP!
- Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
- Minidoka National Historic Site
- Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
- City of Rocks National Reserve
- Golden Spike National Historical Park
- Great Basin National Park
- Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Other than that, I have my typical little lists of adventures and things I’d like to do:
- Mount Meeker via the Iron Gates route
- Kings Peak in Utah (multi-day backpacking trip)
- Take the train to Chicago Basin to attempt Mount Eolus, North Eolus, Sunlight Peak, and Windom Peak as part of a multi-day backpacking adventure
- Mount Elbert, dammit!
- Mount Sniktau winter ascent
I hope you join me for the wild adventure 2023 is shaping up to be!