This is my first post here. I've been a lurker for years but finally joined up to start posting. I saw another post by Andy Chasse where he reviewed his last two years of hiking, and figured this was a good way to introduce myself, and also save some time as writing up individual trip reports for all this stuff would take ages.
In winter 2011 I took a week-long trip around southern Utah and northern Arizona. This was my first time visiting many of these places. I started out at Page, AZ and explored Antelope Canyon.
Next I spent several days in Bryce Canyon, hiking and snowshoeing during the day and returning to a warm hotel room at night. Bryce in the snow, with very few visitors, was absolutely magical.
After a sidetrip to Kodachrome Basin, I headed over to Zion. Unfortunately I hit Zion right in the middle of a blizzard, so I was somewhat limited in my choice of trails, but I still managed to knock off the tourist trails, most of them more than once. The smaller crowds and snowy atmosphere were lovely as well.
I wrapped up this trip with a visit to the upper reaches of Waterholes Canyon (near Page), and a dayhike down the Hermit Trail in Grand Canyon NP.
Spring in Arizona means canyoneering time, and 2011 was a great year. After an abortive start, on a trip where one of my hiking partners tore his ACL, I went on to do a number of excellent canyon trips, like Willow Valley and Sawmill Canyon. The highlight though was definitely a solo trip down upper Tonto Creek. I've done lower Tonto before, and its among my favorite places in Arizona, so having the privilege to visit the upper reaches, especially alone, was really amazing.
I did some shorter trips during summer 2011, including a visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with my girlfriend. The big summer trip in 2011 was a visit to the Wind Rivers, again solo. I spent 6 days doing a big loop out of the Green River Lakes trailhead, climbing up offtrail over Knapsack Col, down through the Titcomb Basin, then back up the highline trail to Summit Lake before diverting over to cross Porcupine Pass. This was my first trip to the Winds and one of the biggest backpack trips I'd done in several years. I have almost too many pix from this trip, here are just a few.
In addition to the six days backpacking in the Winds, I packed a lot of other stuff into this trip as well. I drove from Phoenix, so on the way up I visited Cedar Breaks National Monument. After wrapping up in the Winds, I went up to Jackson hole and spent an afternoon and morning doing the car tourist thing in Grand Teton. And on the way back to Arizona, I routed through Moab in order to spend several days dayhiking around Arches, Canyonlands, and eventually down to Monument Valley. It was an all around epic trip.
Fall of 2011 was three days solo in Aravaipa Canyon, spacing out on the fall colors and exploring most of the side canyons.
I spent most of the winter of 2011-2012 exploring canyons in some of the less-visited parts of Western Arizona, in places like the Eagletail Mountain Wilderness and the Hell's Canyon Wilderness. While not as spectacular as a marquee destination, you almost always have the place to yourself, and the wild character of the land comes to the fore.
In April 2012, I went back to Zion, this time with my girlfriend in tow. We did many of the same tourist trails, but also did a spectacular trip through the Subway. We also squeezed in visits to Antelope Canyon and Coral Pink Sand Dunes along the way.
Summer 2012 was excellent as well. I squeezed in visits to Muir Woods, Crater Lake and Elk Island National Park (in Canada) on business trips through the summer. Back home, my goal was to explore the canyon of West Clear Creek in Arizona. Rather than do it as a thru-trip, I did many short trips each weekend I could in May-June, using jeep roads to access and explore different parts of the canyon. I bought a mountain bike off Craiglist's, and outfitted it with panniers so I could overnight while traveling along these dusty roads. I ended up exploring about 60-70% of the canyon, which still leaves enough mystery to justify a thru-trip at some point in the future.
Finally, the big summer trip of 2012 was a visit to the Canadian Rockies, to section-hike a 170 km section of the Great Divide Trail. I took a cab out of Canmore to Mt. Shark trailhead, and followed the GDT over Wonder Pass into Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park. After spending two nights at the park (which was one of the most beautiful places I've seen, EVER), I hiked over Citadel Pass into Banff National Park, following the GDT over a series of passes including Simpson, Healy, Whistling and Ball Passes, through some of the most incredible mountain scenery on Earth. Leaving Banff, I crossed over into Kootenay National Park and spent the remaining four days of the trip following the Rockwall Trail.
Fortunately for this trip I took video, which you can view here:
And that's it for my introduction to BPL. My birthday was a few days ago and my girlfriend gave me a copy of Todd Martin's "Grand Canyoneering," so my goal for 2013 has become to explore some of the less known corners of Grand Canyon park. Sadly, despite living in Arizona for many years, my experience with the canyon has been limited largely to designated trails, but I intend to change that this year. I may have to re-consider my solo-y ways though, as many of the trips that have caught my eye really require multiple people for safety. Anyway, I will keep you all posted.