That didn’t turn out how I expected: 2018 in Review

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

For all the shocks and surprises that have happened in the last couple of months, 2018 was absolutely incredible. I completed two half marathons to start the year – bringing my total up to four. In the brief period in-between races, I joined my college buddy for a road trip from Salt Lake City to Phoenix to celebrate his escape from the Goldman Sachs prison life.

On the way south, we stopped in Zion National Park during the January government shutdown and experienced a park very empty and very cold. Still, it was pretty cool to be nearly alone in a place which normally sees over 12,000 people a day. I also enjoyed my first of two experiences at Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. It was nice to see something that I only thought existed on Instagram.

In March, I purchased a big-boy camera and have been in love with it ever since. I love documenting where I go. I love having to think about more than just point-shoot-click but really think about what would make a unique shot. I also went to my first bachelor party for my college roommate in San Diego. (Don’t ask about the wedding…) We explored Torrey Pines and I got to take my camera out for its first real test drive.

Torrey Pines State Preserve
Pretty cool that there are cacti within feet of the ocean.

In April, I enjoyed my 26th birthday in Havasupai with a great group of friends. Getting to celebrate in one of the most beautiful places I’ve been was a moment I’ll never forget and I’m pretty sure every birthday henceforth will be a letdown. Oops.

Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls

One last photo by the falls.

A month later, I scooped up a couple of buddies and headed back to Utah for a quick National Parks road trip. On the way up, we stopped by Horseshoe Bend before making our way to Zion for two nights. It was awesome. We hiked Angels Landing at dusk and watched the sunset from the top before laying out and watching the stars come out. Eventually, we convinced ourselves to go down with only the light from our headlamps. We also stopped by Bryce Canyon National Park on the way back. At a driveable 9,000+ feet, it’s one of the highest points you can reach by car in a National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park Bryce Canyon National Park Observation Point Hike Zion Observation Point Hike Zion Angels Landing at night

June. June was a “slow” month for those wondering how I have any energy left. I did do a day trip to northeastern Arizona where I caught my first Milky Way on my camera. I also hammocked on the edge of the Mogollon Rim which was pretty cool (and windy…very windy). A quiet month was nice leading into an insane July.

My first Milky Way, taken at 3am

I headed north at the beginning of July for a nine-day trip through British Columbia. Cody, Chris, and I spent two days in Vancouver, before heading north to Whistler for three more days in the mountains. Then, we backpacked to Garibaldi Lake where we camped out for three days, two nights. The views and experience were spectacular. It was hard to come back into the US… for obvious reasons.

At the end of July, I again headed north to Seattle for a four-day backpacking trip in the Enchantments. It’s aptly named because holy smokes it was amazing. Every night was spent within feet of alpine lakes which took our breath away. This was my first true backpacking experience. At Havasupai, there was running spring water to drink. In Canada, we had weather cabins to hide out in. Here, in the Enchantments, we were very much in the middle of nowhere and it was perfect.

Inspiration Lake - Enchantments

After my trips to the Pacific Northwest, I needed a little break. But my breaks just mean I don’t leave Arizona. I was able to spend a weekend in Flagstaff shooting the Milkyway and watching the Perseids Meteor Shower. I also did a solo camping trip to Mt. Lemmon where I enjoyed some solitude, caught up on writing, and hammocked on top of a mountain.

Milkyway in Flagstaff
Milkyway in Flagstaff
Mt. Lemmon Sunset
Mt. Lemmon
Mt. Lemmon Sunset

This was also about the time I started to notice something changing in my body. I was slower on hikes. I couldn’t run without discomfort.

It, though, didn’t stop my adventuring (unsure if this is a good or bad thing).

I did a weekend around Tucson hiking in the Catalina’s (ran out of water), another weekend to Flagstaff to hike Humphrey’s Peak (got stormed on)…so maybe the signs were there. I wrapped up the fun in early October backpacking in Yosemite National Park. That trip was fantastic due to seeing only a handful of people, great company (Austin and I’s first real backpacking trip together), and beautiful scenery. If I were to choose a final trip to do in 2018, this was a pretty damn good one.

And then, well, things got wild.

There are always certain health things you think about – but for me, those stopped at getting hurt hiking, lifting, or playing basketball. Never in my wildest dreams nightmares did I ever think cancer would make a home in me. But, alas, life happens and you’ve gotta play the hand you’re dealt.

It’ll be a different Christmas and holiday season this year but being surrounded by loved ones will help make it seems as normal as it can.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. Eat lots of food. Drink lots of whatever. And enjoy the hell out of the people you’re with.