Saturday, January 3, 2015

Welcome to 2015

I hope everyone had a great close to 2014. I was able to make the most of my first time home for the holidays since 2008, reinvigorating old traditions and spending quality time with family.

I did a couple of local hikes, the first a family outing to an outstanding viewpoint of the New River Gorge Bridge, one of the most famous West Virginia landmarks (it was on our 2005 state quarter).

The second hike was an overnight, part of my ongoing effort (two years running) to spend New Years Eve camping outside. I'm hesitant to call it a "tradition" just yet; I think you need to do something for three years in a row to call it a tradition. But for me, it starts the New Year just how I prefer - outside under the stars. Last year was a great night spent cozy in a homemade igloo on the slopes of Mt. Baker. This year I went into one of WV's wilderness areas, hoping for some pretty winter landscapes on the high plateaus. Regrettably, I had to put up with genuine arctic weather without the benefit of getting the photos that I wanted - it was snowless and dry. Wind chills were in the -10 degree range with the gusts up to 30mph (I guess that's why they call them "roaring plains"). About the only thing that wasn't frozen was the whiskey I brought for midnight.

If all goes according to plan, 2015 should see me thru my transition into Outdoor Education. I'll be leaving in mid- February for my courses thru the National Outdoor Leadership School. I've found a number of good programs that I'd like to work with after I'm done in mid-May, but it seems that I'll have missed the prime hiring season for summer 2015 while I'm still in school. I'd anticipated this and so I'm planning another great summer of travel and resume building with a number of substantial and exciting personal expeditions.

I figured I'd start the year by presenting my outline to all of my friends to see if anyone can tag along. It's never too early to plan - permit lotteries opened for the National Parks and Boundary Waters Canoe Area on the first of the year and close in only a couple weeks. So let me know soon if you are interested. Firm dates can't be altered due to logistical requirements or reservations.

25 - 29 June: firm dates for a trip to Maine's Acadia National Park w/ family

30 June - 16 July: flexible dates road tripping from Acadia north to Nova Scotia, west across Northern Maine thru Quebec, reentering the US in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (passport required)

17 - 22 July: firm dates for a backpacking/packrafting/canoeing trip to Isle Royale National Park (ferry reservations required). Isle Royale is ideally set up for an amphibious approach, spending time on land and in the water. Moose and wolf sightings if we're lucky.

26 - 31 July: firm dates for a canoeing trip in Minnesota's 2 million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area (permits required). Great fishing.

01 - 18 August: moderately flexible dates for a road trip across North Dakota (Teddy Roosevelt National Park) and Montana. I'll have to lock down firm dates for a 5-6 day backpack thru Glacier National Park (permits required). I'm also interested in packrafting the South Fork of the Flathead River, one of the best floating and fishing rivers in the country.

19 - 26 August: firm dates for a whitewater rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. I'm using ECHO River Guides and space is still available on the trip. It's billed as one of the best whitewater rafting trips you can take.

27 August - 12 September: flexible dates for road tripping and adventuring in Idaho and Wyoming. I'm really hoping to do an abundance of alpine scrambling in the Sawtooth and Wind River mountain ranges. I've got moderate objectives in mind if I go solo or with a non technical partner, but if anyone wants to rope up and get after it, countless classic alpine climbing routes are possible.

13 - 20 September: moderately flexible dates for Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I'd like to reserve a spot on a climb of the Grand Teton itself with a local guide service and go try and find some wolves in the Lamar Valley.

21 September - Early October: flexible dates for a road trip thru Colorado (Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park), Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas to see me thru the completion of my 50 state project. I've got a few sights in mind. I'd like to be back to West Virginia in early October so I can start the job hunt in earnest and possibly launch a few local trips during peak fall foliage.

I'm excited for the adventures and possibilities of the New Year. I hope everyone finds their own way to chase dreams and live life to the fullest in 2015. If that might involve tagging along on some trails with me, please let me know.

Get stoked for 2015!!!