Sugar Maples and Joshua Trees–On the Trail in 2013

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16 December 2013
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I love this time of the year. The short days and long nights of the Winter Solstice prompting me to slow down, recharge, reflect, and relax. The spiritual and joyous nature of Christmas instilling in me hope, renewal and an appreciation of family, friends and blessings. And the excitement

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Joshua trees gracing a trail in Joshua Tree National Park.

of the New Year allowing me to set new goals, discard old ways and reset life for another year.

This year 2013, like so many of the ones before it was yet another satisfying and adventurous one for me. It did however throw a few life challenges at me. I lost my beloved Scruffy Gray, a dear friend and hiking companion, and dealt with a few family and friend crises and scares. Such is life. My workload was challenging this year as I tackled two manuscripts that I was constantly behind on and dealt with a demanding  travel schedule that had me on the road nearly every week from May to November.

But I got to see and do some amazing things on the trail again. This year I once again hiked over 1,000 miles and ran over 900 miles, many of those miles on trails as well. I spent a good amount of my “work” miles in the Olympics working on a brand new map for Green Trails Maps and researching for the second edition of Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula-and I finished up research in the Gulf and San Juan Islands for my next book; and continued to research trails at Mount St Helens for an upcoming book.

I even was able to take a couple of non-work hiking adventures. One on each side of the continent. My trip to Joshua Tree National Park in March with my wife–and my trip to the Great North Woods of northern New Hampshire and southern Quebec with my brother and nephew were  2013 highlights. As always I reflect on how much natural beauty and diversity there is in this great continent and how little time (despite that fact that I am always outside) that I have to explore it all.

I reflect on how blessed I am to have my health and the freedom to experience all of these beautiful places. And I feel sorrow for those who don’t, can’t, or won’t. As I continue on my life journey-everyone of these places-the sugar maples, loons and moose of the Great North Woods to the chuckwallas, Joshua Trees and fan palms of the Mojave become a part of me. I can hardly wait to see what I absorb in 2014. But in the meantime, it’s nice to take a break.

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Approaching the summit of Quebec’s Mont Gosford, one of the highest peaks in the Quebecois Appalachians.

How about you? What experiences on the trail and places you hiked to this year are among your fondest. Why?

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