However.....2019 was the year of the hike. I participated in the "52 hike challenge" and successfully completed 52-plus hikes by calendar's end. Before this, I'd never really counted my hikes, totaled mileage, or kept track of the trails I traversed. This challenge was a great way to quantify the time spent out on the trail. In order to get the required number, I had to force myself outdoors during seasons I didn't usually hike - aka the winter months. Surprisingly, I discovered winter is a great time to be outdoors (heat and bugs are not a problem). My hiking challenge culminated in November with the biggest adventure of all - a trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up again. Since I'd focused so much on hiking in 2019 I came to the conclusion "why not feature photos from my 12 favorite hikes?"
So this year, dear readers, I'm pleased to present the top hikes of 2019:
|Tilly Jane Ski Trail - Ladies ski day
Tilly Jane Ski Trail, January. My friends and I planned a "ladies ski trip" on a lovely blue-sky day. We skied up the Tilly Jane Trail to the A-frame cabin and had a wonderful swoosh back down through the trees in fresh powder snow. Beautiful scenery and great company made this one of my favorite treks of 2019.
|Winter hike on Hamilton Mtn
Hamilton Mountain, February. A Gorge trail I'd hiked plenty of times, but never in the winter. Traveling uphill on ice-packed trails was a challenge (thank goodness for microspikes!) But I loved seeing a familiar trail covered in snow - a totally new perspective. The scenery was so incredibly beautiful I think an annual winter visit is in order.
|Wildflower explosion on Memaloose Hills
Memaloose Hills, April. Normally I like to hit the trails in early morning to beat the crowds. However, on this day a list of chores meant hiking had to wait until late afternoon. I almost said "the heck with it" and stayed home. But seeing reports of the best wildflower bloom here ever, I couldn't resist. After fighting rush-hour traffic, my efforts were rewarded with perfect evening light, impressive wildflower-covered slopes, and best of all, no people. Maybe I'll have to change my hiking habits?
|Crazy Horse Volksmarch
Crazy Horse Volksmarch, June. I timed this year's South Dakota visit to coincide with the annual volksmarch to the top of Crazy Horse Mountain. Convincing my dad, two brothers and nephew to join me made for good quality time spent with family. One of my favorite South Dakota trails, this huge sculpture is always an impressive sight.
|Beargrass bonanza on Coffin Mtn
Coffin Mountain - July. After numerous reports of massive beargrass blooms in the Central Oregon Cascades, I had to check it out for myself. Coffin Mountain was reputed to have the most prolific bloom, so I headed there. I'd never before seen such a huge concentration of beargrass on Coffin Mountain's slopes. A-mazing! Totally worth the nearly 3-hour one-way drive.
|A different perspective of St Helens Lake from the Boundary Trail
Boundary Trail, Mt St Helens, July. Every year I hike the Boundary Trail at Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument, but always stop at the Coldwater Peak turnoff. This year I decided to hike the trail further, and was rewarded with some new views of St Helens and Spirit Lake. A long day, but worth every step.
|Skyline Trail, Mt Rainier National Park
Skyline Trail, Mt Rainier National Park, August. This is hands-down my favorite trail at MRNP. Not only did my friend Young and I hit peak wildflower bloom, we also had perfect, blue-sky weather to showcase massive Mt Rainier at her finest. Totally amazing, breathtaking, magnificent, stunning (and many other superlatives....) You can see why I return every year.
|Indian Henrys Hunting Ground, Mt Rainier National Park
Indian Henrys Hunting Ground, Mt Rainier National Park, August. Although I normally wouldn't include two hikes from the same place in my recap this one was so spectacular I couldn't leave it out. At the end of a long, hot uphill trail Young and I were rewarded with grand mountain views and fields of colorful wildflowers. A new favorite place!
|Mt Hood from Vista Ridge Trail
Vista Ridge Trail, Mt Hood, August. Reaching this trail requires a very long drive over bumpy Forest Service roads - the main reason I hadn't hiked here in many years. But this August I braved the journey. The splendid wildflower display, majestic mountain scenery, and plentiful wildlife (I saw pikas!) made me realize I need to visit more often.
|Red Mountain Lookout
Red Mountain Lookout, September. Although I've hiked many trails in Washington's Indian Heaven Wilderness, this was one place I'd yet to visit. It was a winner! Fall colors, plentiful mushrooms, and a cool lookout tower with great views made this hike memorable.
|Sunset at Norway Pass, Mt St Helens
Lakes and Whittier Ridge Trails, Mt Margaret Backcountry, Mt St Helens, October. I've yet to blog about this one - but I will. This trek was a doozy! Probably the toughest hike of the year - fifteen miles, 3500 feet elevation gain, hiking the final two miles in darkness, and a super-scary traverse across Whittier Ridge in the snow. But the amazing fall colors, mountain views, and spectacular sunset at Norway Pass made it all worth it. A true adventure!
|Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails, Grand Canyon National Park, November. The Grand Canyon delivered, and how! A rare chance to hike to the canyon bottom, a place that only 1% of Grand Canyon visitors go. This bucket-list hiking trip totally exceeded my expectations. Amazing weather, beautiful fall colors, extraordinary scenery, quality time with my sister. A once-in-lifetime experience! Hands down my favorite hike of 2019.
|The happy couple!
And a bonus - the top event of 2019 wasn't a hike, but my daughter's wedding. A proud mom moment! (sniff, sniff!) Despite the rain, it was a wonderful day and beautiful ceremony. I'm throwing in an extra photo to commemorate the happy occasion.
So, that's a wrap for 2019. As always, thanks to my readers for clicking in, leaving comments, viewing my photos and reading my stories. I've compiled some interesting (well to me anyway) stats on my "52 hike challenge" but since this is getting long, it will have to wait for the next post. At that time, I'll also unveil my 2020 hiking goals. Something to look forward to!
In the meantime, wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2020! (Can you believe it's a new decade already?)