2017 Backpacking Passion / My Year in Review

11:27 a.m. on January 1, 2018 (EST)
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Hello all, Happy New Year!

I was very fortunate to have had another great year of trips and experiences and decided to share another end of year type trip report with the like minded people that read these websites. 

Even though it may be growing with more media exposure, backpacking is still pretty much a niche activity and so there are only so many places to share such things.

I always feel as though I should preface my report by saying I don't share out of braggadocio or to get some special recognition,  but simply because this is what I'm into and you guys get it. 

For background, I'm a hopeless backpacking geek and actually kept a basic journal of my trips this year. Though I work full time, I was able to pull 44 trips in 2017! (pretty good out of 52 weeks I reckon).  The journaling was interesting to look back on: I finished the year with 1109 miles hiked and 75 nights spent out. 26 trips involved the Appalachian Trail as part of the route, most trips were in the Southern Appalachians in general (I live here), with the notable exception of my "big" trip which was in Colorado this year. Precipitation of some kind was involved with 24 of the 44 trips this year. 

The Highlights were :

  • five trips with my wife Susan!
  • Weminuche Wilderness and summiting four fourteen thousand foot peaks
  • several off-trail trips /finally finding the southern end of the Hyatt Ridge manway

My full years pictures are here on Smug mug (these are just raw photos arranged by trip date from most recent to oldest as you scroll down the page): https://patricktn.smugmug.com/2017

For brevity and fun, I've selected one photo from each month to share (just ones I like, not necessarily the best quality ones) :


"The Hiker Tunnel" (Jan 13th) connecting Clingmans Dome Road to an AT spur trail in the GSMNP. 


The first southern view as you summit the balds and meadows of Bob Mountain in Cherokee National Forest NC. (Feb 19th)


Derrick Knob (March 10th) on the AT in the Smokies and first snow camp of the year.


Wife Susan crossing the full Citico creek above Warden Field (April 29th).



Shining Rock Mountain camp (May 26th)


Sunset lighting up the Mt Cammerrer fire tower GSMNP (June 3rd)



A black snake standing to intimidate, Marks Creek GSMNP (July 20th)


Susan and me mugging on the Bald River Trail (Aug 26th)


A shot of Eric (my climbing partner for the day) in the Chicago Basin, Weminuche Wilderness CO (Sept 24th)


An old saw blade found exploring off trail near Blanket Creek in the GSMNP (Oct 7th)


Sunrise from the tent on Wilburn Ridge VA (Nov 5th)



Pine Mountain / Fodderstack Junction Citico TN (Dec 9th)


Happy Trails in 2018!

12:25 p.m. on January 1, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks for sharing, that was fun to read. 


1:33 p.m. on January 1, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks Pat!...nice read...and 75 nights while working...not bad!

1:43 p.m. on January 1, 2018 (EST)
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Wonderful pictures Patrick...That's one hell of a accomplishments for someone working full time,Jealous lol

2:00 p.m. on January 1, 2018 (EST)
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Always great to get a wrap up from you and see the sum totals for the year! We do get why you do it...and wish you the best in 2018. 

8:47 p.m. on January 1, 2018 (EST)
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Happy New Year!

Feliz año nuevo!

Bonne annee!

Frohes neues Jahr!

It's that time of year again. What happened to 2017?

The year had way too many things and not enough climbing, backpacking, visiting other countries, and other happenings. During the year, I lost a couple dear friends and climbing partners.

But what a fantastic eclipse!


                                  Midway through complete totality

Today, Barbara and I made our annual hike/climb to the top of Black Mountain to mark the start of a new year, which will hopefully include a couple of our bucket list adventures.
_D8H0001.jpg                       Sunrise on the way to the summit of Black Mountain

_D8H0004.jpg                           On the summit of Black Mountain -

                        yes, there are now bike trails to the summit

Black Mountain is a part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and therefore is a major part of the San Andreas Fault. We can expect The Big One at any moment. Along the trail to the summit, you can see the rift that resulted from the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta shaker in 1989.

We have been making the New Years ascent to Black Mountain almost every New Years now for about 20 years. Usually we come up Rhus Ridge, although this time was from Montebello.

In a few days we head off for a week of skiing, then we will be training Boy Scout adult leaders for snow camping (assuming there actually is snow) followed by helping with a High Adventure Training course, also for adult Boy Scout leaders.

9:48 a.m. on January 2, 2018 (EST)
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Some people think about backpacking a lot and some people go on 44 trips in one year. Way to go Patman. 

I just posted a story about the Weminuche Wilderness Area in Colorado this week. It was an elk hunting trip in 1985.  We packed an elk on two Spanish mules out of some really rough old lodgepole pine stands.  Once I rode out a black bear jumped on the gut pile. When we got back to camp I gave my brother the camp cook, the liver which was still warm.  He cooked it right on the wood stove in the big wall tent without a pan with onions and bacon. Men that did like liver ate until it was all gone. The tent smelled like perfume. 

5:34 p.m. on January 2, 2018 (EST)
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Patman, thanks for sharing your trips on here. It is how I get my fix of the TN/NC area

9:49 p.m. on January 2, 2018 (EST)
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Awesome year! I am quite pleased with my own adventures as well. Here's to 2018 being filled with more adventures for all of us!

9:05 a.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks for the kind words guys!

1:23 p.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Pat, I liked that, thanks

7:32 p.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Way to go Patrick!! Your an inspiration to us all. By the way we don’t see it as bragging , I see it as  bench mark from you and others as to what can be. Plus it’s great for all the reliable info. 

So keep at it, those of us looking thru the window have hope, some day us to.

7:55 p.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Way to go Patman!! " June" may be the best shelter in the south! :-)

7:55 p.m. on January 3, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks Old Guide!

Jason, lol 

John I appreciate the kindness. And speaking of John we had a good trip too in 2017:

You had a sweet hammock camp on Bob Mtn!

 And your Naked Ground Gap hang was cool too:


and let's see..I also trekked and camped with Phil in 2017:


And of couple of times with the venerable Tipi Walter!


What a great year in the outdoors! 

I think Phil and I discussed it briefly on our trip but it's been surprising and cool many great folks I've run into and pulled excellent trips with over the last few years that I knew from this forum. 

8:31 a.m. on January 4, 2018 (EST)
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Getting to meet one of the TS regulars was definitely one of the highlights of my backpacking year - look forward to crossing paths again.  I am not sure its that surprising that you have met several of this crew...with 44 trips it maybe kind of difficult not to run into you at some point in the southeast!

Your totals inspired me to complete my trip spreadsheet for 2017 (yes I nerd it up too!). I was stuck inside for two months in the spring with health issues, then got bogged down with selling the house and moving to a new town the last couple of months. Despite that I managed 9 trips, 19 nights out, and 238 miles in 2017.  Nowhere near a Patman year, or even my normal which is around 12 trips and in excess of 300 miles per year, but its better than being stuck inside I guess.  The spring pause for medical reasons was particularly frustrating!

Looking for a good start to 2018 by turning 50 in a little over a week on a mountain somewhere!  Just waiting to see the weather and pick a spot...

4:23 p.m. on January 4, 2018 (EST)
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FlipNC said:

Getting to meet one of the TS regulars was definitely one of the highlights of my backpacking year - look forward to crossing paths again...

 A few years ago, I got to do a Shawnee National Forest Trip with 3 other TS regulars (PillowThread, HornedRimHiker, & Joseph Renow). It was one of my best trips ever. 

One of these days, I'm going to get out your way and bug you guys to take me hiking!

8:39 p.m. on January 4, 2018 (EST)
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Goose come east and just try it if you can.Love to see out your way as well...

2:03 p.m. on January 5, 2018 (EST)
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What a year Patman! I'm more of a day tripper but my year was at least capped off with short trips in Canyonlands in September and the Grand Canyon before Christmas. Because I seized some play and work opportunities that came my way and also moved to Tucson for a year, I may well have flown more miles this year than in any previous, for which I have some climate change guilt -- in principle I'd rather do more trips close to home like you. But anyway, here are some (sometimes literal) high points from each month.

January: Powder skiing with daughter Molly and (then future) son in law Audun -- yes, he is taking big air with his arm in a sling:
February: Ice skating on 16 km long Gjevilvatnet with my friend Ron:
DSC_4716.jpgMarch: A breezy ascent of Kongskrona, a big 1800 m peak in Vinnufjellet, with my buddy Christophe and his son Nils, one of three tours we three did together this year:
GRS00185.jpgApril: Student tour + a week vacation in Costa Rica, culminating in a marathon day hike up Cerro Chirripo where I met these locals:
IMG_6216.jpgMay: A bunch of ski trips on various Norwegian peaks, including Snota on 17 May (Norwegian indpendence day) with a bunch of well-dressed students:
IMG_6339.jpgJune: Running the Birkebeinerløpet half marathon "with" my daughter and wife (separate starting times, so we never saw each other during the race):
sportograf-99255923.jpgJuly: At Rocky Mountain Biological lab in CO, day hikes on various peaks inthe neighborhood, including this one to Ruby Peak with my colleague Ben (with the watermelon) and other coworkers:
IMG_1329.jpgAugust: back to Norway for Moly and Audun's wedding (and to move out of the house -- more than a few spring weekends were given over to painting and packing up) here with maid of honor/sister Zoe and best man Alf Petter:
45198096_Unknown.jpgSeptember: Road trip to CO for some follow up work at RMBL, combined with various little adventures in CO, UT, and AZ, Canyonlands being one but also including some visits to tourist slot canyons on Navajo land, i.e. Canyon X:

October: Aravaipa Canyon (plus various day hikes around Tucson over all three autumn months):
November: Weekender in the Chircahua Mountains in the SE corner of AZ:

IMG_8044.jpgDecember: 3-day weekend road trip to Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands, pre-Christmas hike in the Grand Canyon, and a year-end road trip to Utah to show Zoe's Weegie boyfriend, Endre, some highlights of the southwest on his first visit to the US, inclkuding Zebra Canyon in Grand Staircase - Escalante:
IMG_8944.jpgWhew! This year I have to make a round trip to Norway in June and then move back in July, otherwise I look forward mostly to more desert and canyon adventures. We've got varuious people dropping in to visit over the next few months, including Molly and Audun at Easter.

8:02 p.m. on January 5, 2018 (EST)
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Great pics from your adventures, Patman and BigRed. 2017 was a great outdoors year for me, I did more hiking than I’ve ever done before, pushed myself physically more than I have since getting out of the army almost 20 years ago, and feel better than I have in forever. Ive learned a lot from and have to thank a lot of people here for their advice, encouragement, and inspiration, and plan on making 2018 even better. So far I’ve only done a couple short snowshoeing treks on local trails, including about an hour in the middle of a blizzard last night LOL

7:48 a.m. on January 6, 2018 (EST)
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Wow, great pictures Big Red! That is one awesome collection of trips! Love it

Thanks Phil, yeah I've been following your posts this last year; great job man!

8:50 a.m. on January 6, 2018 (EST)
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That's some great stuff Patman!

11:40 a.m. on January 6, 2018 (EST)
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Beautiful photos.

I love night snowshoeing but right now can only hike due to lack of snow which we'll lose this coming week in the heat/rain wave.

12:11 p.m. on January 6, 2018 (EST)
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Head up here, we have about 2 feet on the ground and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon!

6:22 p.m. on January 7, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks Patrick, another great post.

1:46 p.m. on January 9, 2018 (EST)
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I love the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

April 8, 2020
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