I’ll be the first to admit, when I look back on this year I am reminded of some of the best memories I have ever had mixed with some of the deepest emotions of despair I have ever felt. Standing in the middle of a circle of friends and family as they pronounced Kyle and I partners for life – a definite high. Watching Trump shrink numerous National Monuments before ever getting to visit them – a definite low. But I’m not here to get political, I do that in my daily life, I am here to share out outdoor adventures with you and those were overwhelmingly wildly positive. So let’s take a post to look back on the best of 2017 and rejoice in the beauty of our nature playground.
This was truly a summer of reveling in all the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Kyle and I weekend warriored harder than we ever had before. Starting with Boealps in the spring we effectively spent every single weekend except our wedding weekend and the weekend before it in the mountains. We took up a gauntlet and waved it high and proud, creating incredible habits and following through on all of our plans. We had a calendar full of adventures by June and we stuck too it. I am going to reuse many of the same categories I used for the Best of 2016 and 2015 blog posts with a couple of new ones!
Favorite Snow Climb:
I had to create two categories for climbing because we climbed a lot this year, from instructing Boealps in the spring to learning how to alpine climb this summer, to craggin in Squamish and Smith Rock in the fall. Even though we began to dabble in alpine climbing and came to find an appreciation for craggin, climbing big, glaciated, snow covered peaks is still a favorite of ours. And in that category Glacier Peak stands out this year. Not only was it our last Washington volcano but it was an incredible trip with Carl and Sarah. We tested out some new fast and light climbing techniques, including strapping crampons to trail runners, made up new games to pass the time and avoid getting eaten alive by insects, and all around had an incredible time in a beautiful, rugged, extremely remote place.
Favorite Alpine Climb:
It’s not like we did a ton of alpine climbing this summer, we only began to learn the ins and outs of trad climbing but I have to mention our climb up Ingalls Peak via the south face route with Carl leading. It was our first taste of an alpine trad route and it was incredible. The hike was long and grueling, the weather was perfect, the experience pushed us and we learned all sorts of new things. Plus I got to preform a pretty awesome ice ax arrest.
Most Beautiful Climb:
While Ingalls Peak was our favorite I still think Sahale Peak has it beat for beauty. When your jaw drops so hard you have to drag it along as you hike you know your somewhere special. The perfect breeze blowing warm air past babbling brooks while goats munched amongst the wild flowers and all around us snow topped peaks rose out of lush green valleys, I mean there really isn’t anything better. Plus we were with a great group of friends, the cherry on a perfect ice-cream sundae.
Favorite Camping Spot:
I would be remise to say that our incredible campsite (which took us hours of hunting to find) at Ingalls Lake was the best campsite we had all summer. Located in a lovely little island of pine trees the two tent spots were perfectly flat and where we set up our kitchen had an incredible view of Stuart.
Favorite Alpine Lake:
Although this is a close call I have to say that Ingalls Lake also takes the cake for best swimming hole. I have never been so refreshed and rejuvenated after chilling myself to the bone in an alpine lake. Plus the views were unbeatable.
Favorite Backpacking Trip:
Our Goat Rocks Backpacking Trip (which was technically Kyle’s Christmas gift to my mom) was the best backpacking trip of the summer. Yes it was a tinsy bit stressful because we did it on Labor Day weekend and so we were extremely worried about getting a camping spot but once we got in and secured one of the most incredible camp spots available it was smooth sailing from there. Kyle and I have a hard time going on leisurely backpacking trips but with the company of friends and family it is easier. For three days we tooled around the high alpine meadows of Goat Rocks, scrambled Old Snowy, swam in Goat Lakes and laughed around our imaginary campfire. A picture perfect backpacking trip.
Best Money Spent:
You know, we spent a shockingly small amount of money on gear this last year. It was like we could finally just get away with what we owned and do everything we wanted. Except for one thing: we did buy a trad rack. So there’s that…
Best International Trip:
This is basically a cop out category because we really only went abroad once this year (unless you count climbing at Squamish) but HOW COULD I FORGET – we went to freaking Mexico when the year was still young. Another amazing adventure with Sarah and Carl that wasn’t just climbing a mountain, it was navigating through busses and cities and taxis and restaurants in another langauge, it was eating SO many tacos, and it was playing boggle and Catan at 13,000ft. While we try to keep things mostly close to home it was a wonderful way to start the year.
Favorite Trail Run:
We did a pretty awesome “trail run” up to Vesper Peak and I have put that in parenthesis because the trail is often so rough running is impossible. But we ran where we can and went light and fast. It was a super quick, super beautiful little trip and a great reminder that you don’t need to plan something huge and crazy to make your weekend sing. You just need to get out for your dose of fresh air.
Um, probably that time Kyle, Conor and I thought we were going to climb Mount Hood, Mount Shasta, and Mount Lassen in three days. The driving alone would have been the biggest sufferfest of the summer. Although our dreams of doing all three were thwarted after we had to rescue someone off of Mount Hood we did still manage to do Mount Hood and Mount Shasta in three days, which was a sufferfest unto itself. But it was another great example of Kyle and I setting our sights on something big and then doing what we could to make it happen – and when everything didn’t go our way we were flexible and just readjusted to the next best thing.
Best Photo Taken:
With so many amazing weekend trips Kyle completely outdid himself this year. So I will just pick a couple of what I think are the best photos he took. But really, just go back and have yourself a gander at all the incredible things he has captured.
Wow. I didn’t know how much I needed to travel back through 2017 until I did it. I had completely forgotten that we went to Mexico this year! When you are determined and create good habits and have great friends you can accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. Thank you 2017 for all that you have given me personally – now lets continue to take care of ourselves while we fight a much bigger fight to make next year even better.