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Keep the good times rolling: A look back at my 2017

A year filled with mini adventures equals a year of great fun.

By: Scott Kaiser + Save to a List

You'll be hard pressed to find someone to argue 2017 was a particularly great year but, on a personal level, this was a pretty darn good year. In February I jumped full-time into my own business after a couple of years as a side hustle and after a bit of a rocky summer, I'm ending the year on a high note with a promising start to 2018. Outside of work, my "outdoor" goals for 2017 were to build on all the fun I had hiking and exploring in 2016. I set out to do one new adventure each month. I defined "adventure" as a new trail to hike, activity to try, or place to visit. I accomplished this goal and then some. Here are a few of the highlights:

January

Sunset hike at Maryland Heights. Overlooking the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers we took in a spectacular sunset until we were sufficiently frozen. Temperatures were in the 20s and in my water bottle were mini icebergs. It wasn't skiing but it was definitely the next best thing.

February

Winter in DC this year lasted about 3 weeks, so when the temperatures rose into the 60s in early February, I pulled out the backpack and hit the trails for an overnighter on Buzzard Rock. One of my favorite hikes, I've always wanted to spend the night at the top. Sitting by a roaring fire watching the sunset while wearing a beanie and hooding in early February? If I can't be skiing, that will work just fine.

If I can't be skiing...

March

If I can't have snow, a frozen hike is probably the next best thing (I prefer snow). Have I mentioned how terrible and snow-less winter was this year? March was the month I bagged a couple of new peaks in West Virginia. Big Schloss and Tibbet Knob on this trip in particular. The first time I'd summit either. Temps were frigid and the views were A+. I went back two more times during the year.

May

Memorial Day weekend camping trip to Blackwater Falls State Park. Chasing waterfalls and hiking mountaintop bogs. What more could you ask for? This was the first of several camping trips this year where I woke up during a midnight thunderstorm praying the rainfly would hang on long enough until the storm passed. Fortunately it did but we got plenty soaked out on the trails in the coolest micro-climates on the east coast. One of the more memorable moments was popping out of the foggy forest trail onto a forest service road deep in the woods, turning around to see the faint glow of headlights slowly approaching. Every scary movie I've ever seen immediately came to mind and I thought this is exactly how one would get murdered. Fortunately they were a couple of friendly adventurers who passed without incident!

Blackwater Falls State Park.

July

I'd argue DC's access to the outdoors rivals some of the best outdoor cities in the west. Where else can you catch sunrise in George Washington National Forest and then paddle on the Nation's River in the Nation's Capital by mid-afternoon? Check and check. Took me three years to get on the river but finally did it. Hoping Santa brings me an Oru Kayak for Christmas this year.

One of three sunrise hikes this year.

September

I fell in love with West Virginia this year. Hiking along the escarpment at Chimney Rock is a highlight of the year. Not a technical hike but the views are some of the best in the state. The campground along the North Fork Potomac River just down the road is where I'll be spending many future summer weekends.

Best views in West Virginia.

Streak of 7 consecutive weekends camping and hiking

What started as a couple of trips planned back to back turned into an epic streak. After three weekends in a row I thought why not keep the good times rolling!

October

Biking the C&O Canal from DC to Harpers Ferry, WV, has been on my to-do list since moving to DC in 2014. There was never a good time to go. I didn't have the right gear or I wasn't in biking shape or some other lame excuse I could think up. During a weekend camping trip earlier in the month, some friends and I loosely discussed interest in planning a ride but I really didn't take the discussion seriously. A week later the date was set and there was no backing out. A text to a friend a few weeks after summarizes the trip perfectly: Sitting on the banks of the Potomac River, sipping bourbon with a fire roaring behind you, knowing you arrived at that moment by bicycle. Perfect. 

The ride home the following day was painful but in a, "f*#k yeah!" kind of way. Biked 140 miles in two days; 70 miles were in the freezing rain. What did you do this weekend?

We are already planning a second bike tour for the spring.

Mile 130ish. Soaked. Muddy. Cold. Sore. Happy!

November

Big Schloss Pt III. Fall arrived late and winter arrived early this year. Another frozen hike up Big Schloss but this time from the north as part of a 13-mile circuit. I didn't think the views from the ridgeline could get any better but add the tail end of fall with the valleys below painted in gold--#AlmostHeaven.

Last gasp of fall painting the valleys gold.

Cheers to more of the same in 2018!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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