Ten years ago today, my then-girlfriend, now-wife Kelly and I went to Palomar Mountain State Park for a five mile hike. That hike proved to be the first five miles of what would eventually come a successful attempt to hike 1,000 miles in a calendar year.
Today, I start a new decade after hiking my 10,000th mile today with mywife and son. In the intervening years, a lot has happened as far as hiking goes (and as far as everything goes). Due to a confluence of circumstances, this 10,000 mile achievement paired with a decade provides a fitting conclusion to a satisfying chapter of my life.
In 2012, I started this blog to document my experiences chasing 1,000 miles. I hiked my 1,000th mile on 9/14/2012 when I finished the route to Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park. It marked the completion of my original plan 2.5 months early, although plantar fasciitis would prevent me from adding significantly to that total.
In 2013 and the early part of 2014, I continued exploring various corners of San Diego and the Sierra Nevada, wracking up 946 miles in 2013 and 285 miles in the first-third of 2014. During that time, I pitched myself to Modern Hiker as a contributing writer and wrote my first trail description – a route at Palomar Mountain State Park, thus beginning my career as a trail writer.
At the tail-end of 2014, I submitted a proposal to Wilderness Press to assume co-authorship of Afoot and Afield San Diego County, becoming the co-author following Jerry Schad’s passing. I signed the contract in December of 2014, and from there I began re-scouting the entire book.
Much of the re-scouting occurred in 2015, and that year I racked up 1,328.6 miles of hiking over 281 hikes, much of which was devoted specifically to San Diego County. During that time, I also continued to write for Modern Hiker, and I started the San Diego Hiking Society, which now has nearly 33,000 members. I made some friends along the way, and I experienced the wide variety of habitats that San Diego County has to offer.
I concluded the fieldwork in 2016 at Dawns Peak, perhaps the hardest hike in Afoot and Afield. With the scouting done, I finished the writing, submitting the manuscript shortly afterward. At roughly the same time, my wife discovered that she was pregnant with our son, Hank. While waiting for Hank to show up, I spent a lot of time exploring Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks along with the John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest, which later became the basis for my 4th book, Hike the Parks: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Hank arrived a few months before Afoot and Afield came out in April 2017, and for year, I paused any further projects while acclimating to fatherhood. That pause did not last long, as by February 2018, I had begun working on my second and third books , Hike the Parks: Joshua Tree National Park and Hike the Parks: Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks. Later that summer, I would finish the remaining work for my 4th book, Hike the Parks: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and by November of 2018, I had begun work on my 5th book, Day Hiking Yosemite National Park – all for Mountaineers Books.
During 2019, I devoted most of my hiking time to exploring Yosemite National Park for my 5th book – a stellar opportunity to explore the crown jewel of the American National Park system. Meanwhile, my Joshua Tree and Zion books came out in Fall of 2019, and I was able to host a handful of talks before the COVID 19 pandemic put an end to in-person promotion.
Work on the Yosemite book continued into 2020, although the COVID-19 pandemic truncated my field work, which I wrapped up in July 2020. My Sequoia book came out in April of 2020, but there were few opportunities to celebrate, given the shut down. Hiking opportunities ceased for a while that year, both because of COVID but also because of extreme wildfires at the end of 2020.
In 2021, I only had one goal, which was to see if I could round it all off at an even 10,000 miles over ten years. With that last accomplishment, I reach a point that I cap off a decade of unexpected, satisfying gifts: Thousands of miles, new friendships, countless experiences, five books, 300 trail descriptions for Modern Hiker, tens of thousands of photographs, and countless hours with “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” stuck in my head.
I can call it a day, now. I won’t write any more books. I won’t write any more trail descriptions outside of offering support for the next Afoot and Afield. I’m dropping all social media activity; I’ve already deleted my Facebook account permanently, and I will stop posting to Instagram after the New Year. This will likely be my last blog post (although, never say never).
I’ll still hike and take pictures, but the focus turns elsewhere – specifically toward my family, as my son, Hank, gets older and seeks more shared experiences. I’m shutting down all of my social media, and I won’t be continuing with Afoot and Afield, which has been handed to a new author.
Thank you to everybody who followed along. Thanks to everyone who hiked with me. Thank you to anybody who purchased a book. Thank you to everyone who interacted with me on social media. Thank you to everyone who supported my efforts.
It’s been fun.