A busy May saw me rack up 112.8 miles on (and sometimes off) trail, with 21,780 feet of elevation gain over the span of 18 hikes and 59 hours. This was the heaviest month of hiking I’ve had in some time, but that was far from the only hiking-related nonsense I got up to this month.
I spent the first week of the month conducting field work on a new hiking guide covering Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks for Mountaineers Books. My best friend, Tony, joined me for six days in which we covered 83 miles of trail throughout both parks.
Toward the end of that trip, I developed Achilles bursitis, a condition where the bursa sacks between the tendon and the bone become inflamed due to repeated use. This is probably the result of a combination of shoes past their prime as well as a sudden increase in hiking without any ramp-up or conditioning prior to the trip. The left bursa sack was particularly affected, and it remains a bit inflamed, but pain-free.
A few days after I returned from my trip to Utah, my old laptop suffered a catastrophic hard drive failure. Although the majority of my photographs and text were backed-up on Dropbox and Google Drive, I managed to lose four months worth of photography from 2018, including 95% of my Joshua Tree field work photography. I also lost about 10k words of my Zion and Bryce Canyon manuscript, which I will have to re-write. Lesson learned: ALWAYS BACKUP EVERYTHING EVERY DAY FROM NOW ON!
I also had a few articles published on Modern Hiker. One of those articles was a hike write-up for the Kelly Ditch Trail in the Cuyamaca Mountains. The other article was an opinion piece about the mountain biking community’s alliance with the anti-parks caucus in Congress in an attempt to overturn a key provision in the 1964 Wilderness Act. This provision would allow land managers to determine where to allow mountain bikes in wilderness areas. I am decidedly against it, but I don’t find mountain bikers to be the villains in this scenario. Instead, I see the situation as a poorly thought-out decision based on cherry-picked rationales that has led to a Faustian bargain. Needless to say, the mountain biking community did not love the article.
Finally, I quit Facebook by permanently deleting my account. I have a number of reasons for doing so, which include frustration with Facebook’s pages, frustration over their new advertising policies (they blocked Modern Hiker from boosting my mountain biking in the wilderness post), and some lingering apprehension about the whole Cambridge Analytica business. But more than anything, I quit it because it’s an enormous time sink that was taking time away from things I’d prefer to do – like blogging. I did have to say goodbye to a hiking group that I had nourished for several years, and there are people I will miss keeping up with. Other than that, I’m glad to leave this particular addiction behind.
Top Three Hikes:
1. Mt. San Jacinto via Devils Slide
Four friends joined me on my birthday to climb Mt. San Jacinto. I don’t often get a chance to hike with other people, and very rarely do I get to enjoy such excellent company. This is also my favorite route up to Mt. San Jack, and climbing this mountain has become an annual event for me.
2. Cable and Deertrap Mountains
I did a lot of hiking at Zion, but none of them were quite as enjoyable or scenic as Deertrap and Cable Mountains. These two stunning destinations receive a scant amount of visitation due to their remote locations, but you still get jaw-dropping views encompassing the entirety of Zion Canyon plus some unique historical elements.
After I committed myself to blogging again, I hit one of my favorite SoCal destinations for a leisurely spring hike. It’s been a very dry year at Palomar, but the park is looking as good as always. Dogwoods were in bloom later than usual, and I was a bit too early for azaleas. Moreover, the general ambiance and solid forest bathing brought me back to the mindfulness that had been a bit lacking for me with my recent ambitious hiking excursions.
During June, I’ll need to focus on finishing the Joshua Tree manuscript and re-writing Zion for my first deadlines with Mountaineers. I’ll still manage to find some time for a trip to Ontario Peak (first time), as well as a long weekend in the Yosemite high country (hello, Glen Aulin!)