This has been a difficult year. To use one easy example, the progression of my wilderness skills was orderly and logical in years past. In 2008 Chris Plesko and I went to Yellowstone. In 2009 Kevin Sawchuk and I traversed the Bob in October. In 2010 I traversed the Thorofare alone in May, and learned to packraft. In 2011 I completed the Classic. This year my two “big” traverses ended in failure, at least insofar as completed the route was concerned. Work had similar struggles, as I closed in on and passed 2 years at my current job and struggled with having a sustainable attitude towards a job whose external worth is often so hard to judge. These battles are why 2012 has been the best year yet. Compiling the video below brought back an overwhelming layer of memories, and with it a few tears of gratitude. Job completed.
In the video you’ll notice something rather different than those from years past; people. I resolved to do, and did, many trips with others. And loved it. Solo has been and will still be a huge part of what I do in the wilderness, but getting better at sharing has been enormously rewarding. I believe some call this growing up.
Last year I wrote, on the occasion of this blogs 5th birthday, that I hoped to raise the bar on content. Visually things have stayed stagnant, photography wasn’t a huge focus this year and I chose to sink money into going on trips and buying gear rather than upgrading cameras and hardware. This will continue to be the case, as I just ordered a new packraft (Scout!) yesterday. M and I had a conversation a few months later, prompted by the second time I was freshly pressed and saw viewed multiply for a week or two, where I concluded that additional volume was not a desirable goal. I do not want to be anywhere close to the most read blog around. I’d need to make content here more regular and more ereadily digestible, neither of which will ever happen. I don’t compromise lived life for blogging, and I see little value in being easily understood. I want to be the most influential blog in my strange corner of the universe, and judged by that criteria I’m pleased with my progress. My writing here and elsewhere has improved, with several posts here and articles on BPL whose influence has been easily seen. I shall do my best to keep this up.
I’m not going to write about specific gear this time around, because while my curiosity and consumerism is far from dead, reflecting on the last 6 years has made the gear urge seem a bit silly. So long as I’ve had a reliable mountain bike good adventures have come, and the particulars matter little. Investing in a fatbike, as I did this year, is worthwhile for the new terrain and ways of thinking it opens. Worrying about the best tires and fiddling with different drive trains or different amounts of suspension does not provide a good growth-experience to fiddle-time ratio. 3 years ago I was enjoying myself and exploring places quite as well with one pair of skis as I will this winter with six. All this is why you should expect to see a bit less gear writing here and elsewhere, and why I bought a new Alpacka rather than any of the many other things worthy of said funds. A packraft opens new places, and I want a lighter one to ease my multi-sport explorations as well as a second boat to more easily bring others along (looking at you Danni/Clayton/Lauren/Megan/Ali/etc).
I have big plans for 2013. The first 12 weeks are already quite full with Fisher research trips in Glacier and the Fat Bike Summit in Idaho. M and I hope to (finally) return to the Colorado Plateau in April, and come May boating and spring skiing will be upon us, followed shortly by the orgiastic period of dry-dirt hiking known as summer. I’ll need to train hard to be able to last from July through September with all I plan to do, and with enough in reserve to hunt deer and elk in the Bob. There will be lots of trout to catch along the way.
I can’t wait.