Friday, January 17, 2014

2013: Year in Review

After some serious decompression, I'm now getting around to making sense of the year that was. Following in the footsteps of several other bloggers, I'm going to do a little top 10... originality be damned. Back in late July, I gave myself two goals, get to the halfway point in my redlining journey, and do 1000 trail miles. The redlining goal was reached on 11/21, somewhere on the Guinea Pond Trail, and I've since added another ~25 miles of new trails to my total, bringing me below 700 miles to go. The 1000 miles, on the other hand, was right down to the wire, being barely passed, on the last day of the year.

Here's 2013, by the numbers.

# of hikes: 100
Hiking days: 84
# of solo days: 34
Named peaks: 174
4000-footers: 83
Hikes with no peaks: 29
New redlining miles: 347.1
Miles: 1,000.1
Elevation gain: 300,760'
Average, per hike: 10 miles, 3008' of gain

Now, without further adieu, here are my top 10 hikes for 2013.

#10: Bradbury Mountain, 12/31/13

I'd be remiss, if I said that this little 485' "mountain" in Pownal, ME didn't hold some special place in my year. Upon my return from Baxter on the 30th, I was 4.7 miles short of my 1000 mile goal... so this was a close, logical choice, to finish the remainder. I ended up doing a 4.8 mile "loop", zig-zagging around, up, and down, the mountain. As a friend put it, a fine capstone.

#9: Porter and Cascade, Adirondacks, 8/11/13

My first hike in the Adirondacks, a day after the wedding of my friends Jeremy and Jenna. Chosen as a short hike on my way home, I ended up en-route, hiking to Porter Mountain first... figuring that since my grandfathers name was Porter, that my first peak, and subsequent peaks, should be for him. It will take me some years to complete this list, but in his name, it will all be worth it.

#8: Mt. Randolph, Mt. Crescent, Ice Gulch, 9/11/13

This was my first foray on the RMC trails to the north of Route 2, and what a route I picked! A sweltering, late summer day, with hazy views from the peaks, and a challenging scramble down through Ice Gulch, racing a thunderstorm. The natural air conditioning of the gulch was awesome (so were the mosses), and the thunderstorm that rolled over the top of us was frightening to say the least. A standout for sure!

#7: North Brother attempt, 2/22/13

Having no idea what I was getting myself into, I signed up to go to Baxter, in the winter! A busy winter season (up to that point), was the best preparation that I could ask for, but still fell short of what was required. The four of us made a valiant attempt at the summit, but with unbroken snow, and drifts up to our necks, we were forced to turn around as the sun set, nearly 8 hours after leaving the summer trailhead. This was one of the most challenging hikes of the year, by a big margin.

#6: A random redlining hike, 4/25/13

In the interest of avoiding snow, I decided to drive, and hit some new trails, some out and backs, and some loops. I ended up doing days similar to this, several more times throughout the year, but this was the genesis. Five separate hikes were done, bringing me to some fantastic view ledges, a great waterfall, and a couple of small peaks, as I worked my way from east to west, and from south to north. The stats for the day were equivalent or greater than most 4K hikes! This day also signaled a change in my camera gear, which I've continued to this day, the use of my collection of late-70's Canon glass.

#5: Baldface/Royce Range Traverse, 5/18/13

A Meetup hike (that I organized) of epic proportions, and a traverse that was as glorious and as difficult as I imagined it would be. Though lacking the fame of the 4000-footers, this rugged range to the east, on the Maine/New Hampshire border, is simply a must do for any White Mountain hiker. Wild ridgelines, dark woods, and huge views from the peaks. Well worth a repeat!

#4: Sandwich Dome, 11/21/13

Reaching the halfway point of my redlining journey was significant for me, and the day was downright perfect for it. Cold and clear, somewhat icy, and only a few 1/10th's of a mile on trails I'd been on before. I also remembered my camera this time! It was a great reminder of just how much I have left to do. Motivation!

#3: Northern Presidentials, 10/3-10/6/13

Getting to spend three nights, among the highest peaks in the Northeast, was among my most treasured experiences of the year. While the weather wasn't perfect, I didn't get rained on, and the people I met were among the best I've ever come across. When a plan comes together, and isn't followed (really at all), the outcome can be surprising.

#2: Solo "classic" Presidential Traverse, 7/4/13

Since doing my first traverse (in two days) back in 2011, I've wanted to get to the point of being able to it in one day. In this regard, 2013 was a year full of "beast mode" hikes, pushing the limits. What started out with a beautiful sunrise, as I climbed into the clouds, left me cold and in the clouds for the northern half of the range. Once past Washington, the clouds lifted, the temperatures soared, and I managed to accomplish my goal of a sub-12 hour traverse, including breaks. Injuring my left ankle coming off of Jefferson was the worst part of the day, but as Yvon Chouinard famously said... "The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong - that's when adventure starts."

#1: No-frills Pemi Loop, 9/18/13

Speaking of pushing the limits, this pushed beyond. My longest hike to date (31.9 miles), besting my previous long day by 3.2 miles, and nudging into the realm of 5 digit elevation gain. The weather was perfect, and my very alpine (1:09am) start time proved to be worth the sleep deprivation. The defining moment for me, was watching the sun rise to my right, and the moon set to my left. Hiking along by moonlight alone was pretty awesome too. Having my friend Tim catch up with me at Galehead was the icing on the cake. I injured my right ankle on our descent from Bondcliff, and I'm still paying for it now, but the pain was well worth the experience. This is another one I'm going to repeat.

In no way, am I discounting any of the other hikes I've done this year. They were all special in one way or another. These were simply the standouts, the ones that made all the others worth it.

2014 is another year, and I have some plans, some of which have already come to pass. Firstly, I did a polar bear dip, on January 8th... it was 5 degrees, and the water was a balmy 40! I was just getting sick when I did it, and needless to say, it didn't help matters. Secondly, I tried out indoor rock climbing... what a blast! With a bit of luck, I'll be able to get out to Colorado to visit my cousins, with the aim of skiing, and hiking my first 14'er. A coworker of mine wants me to do a marathon with her (in October), so I agreed... training starts at the end of the month. There's going to be a LOT of trail-running in my future. In addition, I want to finish my NE67 (8 peaks remain), chip away at the NE100, and keep up the redlining, with a tentative goal of finishing in 2015.

So that's that, 2013 is a wrap (and has been for more than 2 weeks). 2014 is mine!

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