Looking Back on 2018 | A Year in Utah

This had been the most incredible, adventurous year of my life. To look back on these 365 days, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess, the obvious first step is January 1, 2018. After ringing in the new year in Quebec City, in below 0 temps, Court surprised me with dog sledding. Something I’ve never dreamt I’d get to do, turned out to blow my expectations out of the water. And that was only the first day of the year. From there on, it only got better.

A few weeks later, Courtney and I packed up all our belongings from our Connecticut apartment into a Budget Rental truck and headed out west. After driving across the country in 4 days, we finally arrived in our new home state of Utah. From that point on, adventures levels were only elevated from there. Once we realized all of Utah’s national parks were within driving distance, we made it our goal to see them all as soon as possible. First we hit Zion for Court’s birthday, then it was onto Arches a few weeks later. Court’s parents came to visit, and we took them to Canyonlands. In April, when a friend of mine was out here for work, we spent the weekend in Bryce, and two weeks later we crossed off our last park, Capitol Reef. Each of those parks were incredible in its own way, and easily some of the most incredible landscapes in the world. And to top it off, later in the year I got to show my parents Arches National park as well!

Mixed in those months, there were countless hikes and bike rides in the foothills of Salt Lake, and wondrous nights spent camping in the desert. On top of that, we started making day trips to explore the hotsprings of Utah. Not to mention getting my parents out here and showed them how beautiful a place Utah was. 

In May, we headed out across the Pacific to the Big Island of Hawaii, during all the prime volcano hype. Going into that trip, I had some preconceived notions about going to a tourist destination. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that place. We circumnavigated the entire island, stopping wherever we wanted, to explore and adventure in our own way. Days and days spent in the clear blue waters, swimming with colorful fish and friendly sea turtles. And don’t even get me started on the incredible food there. It’s a place I really can’t wait to go back to. After we got back from the vacation of a lifetime, I summited the Pfeifferhorn with my two buddies. A feat that lit a fire under my ass to push my limits to new levels. 

June was also the month we found our new apartment up in Park City, UT. And not long after, 1 week to be more specific, we added a little puppy to our family. And that pup, Gregor, changed our lives. Even though we had to change around our lives to accommodate our 4-legged pup, we didn’t slow down one bit. Tubing the Provo, camping in the Wasatch, and getting whooped in the mid-week mountain bike races. 

Later that summer, the 3 of us headed north to spend a long weekend in shadows of the Tetons in Jackson, WY. We explored Grand Teton National Park, hiked up to ski lake, up Snow King, and lastly some paddle boarding on the Snake River. It was our first time camping in bear country, and luckily we didn’t have to encounter any. The rest of the summer was spent camping along riversides in the Uintas while Courtney started training for her first Marathon. But we’ll get to that later. Then over the Labor Day Weekend, we checked off another state by spending the weekend at a high-alpine lake in Nevada, called Angel Lake. We camped under all of the stars in the Milky Way at night, and spent each day hiking and followed by a swim into the frigid lake waters.

Summer flew by, and brought in with it a beautiful Fall. To me, Fall was always about the colorful changing of the New England leaves, but here, it was different. The mountainsides caught fire, as the Aspens turned gold. And about this time, I had to stop riding my bike due to a knee injury, so I picked up trail running. And that couldn’t have been a better backdrop to explore the mountains even more. And as the leaves began to change, and snow started to fall in Park City, it also meant that it was desert season again. And it also meant that Courtney’s marathon was just around the corner.

Even though I wasn’t the one training for the marathon, it was just as important to me, as it was to her. Each week, she was running, long distances, 4 times a week. Our weekends were focused around her long runs and making sure everything was going as planned. So when November rolled around, all that training was put to the test. We drove down to the desert on the Arizona/Utah border. A place where massive buttes and plateaus extrude from the ground into the sky. A sight, unlike anything else. Not to mention, getting to watch Court push herself to the absolute limit in order to cross that finish line was even more epic. 26.2 miles on dirt roads, sandy trails, and even one massive sand dune. All with style, coming in 1st in her age group! Not bad for her first Marathon. And since that wrapped up, it was finally time to relax.

The weekend immediately after her marathon was Thanksgiving, and instead of flying back home for the weekend, we headed to the West Coast. We spent the long weekend on the beaches of California. Making stops in Hollywood, Huntingdon Beach, Long Beach, and of course, Beverly Hills. The trip was highlighted with days spent at the incredible dog beach at Huntingdon Beach where Gregor played in the water and every single dog that walked by. We ate fish tacos everywhere we went and even did the tourist thing by strutting our stuff on Rodeo Drive. All in all, a relaxing break for Court and myself from the endless fun in the mountains.

For the 3rd weekend in a row, I was putting miles on the truck. But this time, I was headed to Vegas. Not for a gambling extravaganza, but to tag along on a buddy’s climbing trip to the Red Rock Canyon. Of course, the weekend we go, it rains torrential amounts the day before, soaking the fragile sandstone rock. After waiting out the first day, we eventually got on some sport routes and spent the afternoon bouldering around (without a crash pad). An otherwise uneventful day, except for my last boulder problem of the day. A unsuspecting, highball boulder that had me stranded on the top without a walkoff or easy descent. For about 15minutes, I was terrified. My hands are sweating just writing this as the experience is being rehashed. After many attempts, I eventually made my way down a cut in the boulder, pulling as hard as I could on the crack, eventually falling off into the catch of my buddies. No injuries were had to my body, only my pride.

The second day, I got on my first major route in the Red Rocks. With an Alpine start, we got on Purblind Pillar. A 6 pitch, 900ft, 5.8. It was an unforgettable experience of incredible slab climbing high above the canyon floor below. We missed belay ledges, broke holds, and nearly went hypothermic on our way up the shaded route. We finally ran out the last pitch to the top, celebrating with Millers and a shared Chipotle Turkey Sanwhich as we walked off down the gully. Not a very technically challenging route, but absolutely spectacular. The diversity of climbing styles used on the climb made each pitch completely different than the last. I already cannot wait to get back down there for another climbing trip.

This wrap-up would not be complete without mentioning the scariest part of the year. I was charged, full-blown, off a trail by a Momma Moose when I was out on a trail run with Gregor. He and I set out for a quick, 3 mile run, on the trails in our neighborhood we always run on. I tried to pass by her on an adjacent trail when she backed up onto it, revealing her calf right next to her. That’s when I realized this was serious. I backed down the trail, still making eye contact, calmly talking with her. And as soon as I turned my head, I heard the first hoof step. She was charging right at me, closing the 30yrd gap in a couple of strides. Screaming my head off, I made the decision to bail off the trail, down the hill. I grabbed the leash as hard as I could, hoping Gregor was still next to me, and jumped 6feet down the hill into the bush and knee deep snow. Completely vulnerable, and unable to move from my position, I looked back uphill to see the Moose staring straight down at me, with piercing eyes. Conversely, I looked into Gregor’s, who landed right next to me, and saw a fear I’ve never witnessed in my dog before. We eventually slid down the hill, and ran off to the safety of our apartment. It shook me really good. I didn’t feel right for a day or two. I had always known Moose could kill you by stomping you out, but never believed it. That is, until now.

As for the happier things, 2018 was capped off with one of the reason we moved to Park City. The skiing. We got some incredible early season dumps in December that filled in the base better than it was during all of the 2017/2018 season. Deep days skiing the 9990 and McConkey’s lifts. And to top it off, getting into the backcountry too. After a week spent home over the holidays, seeing family and getting to play with my nieces and nephew, I put on the skins and followed my two buddies, Pete and Mike, up Grizzly Gulch. We skied two peaks (well me 1 and 9/10ths of a peak), and descended on some of the most incredible Utah powder. I’m shooting for my goal of 50 days of skiing this year, and hit over 20 before the New Year, so I think I’m on my way!

It was an incredible year, and to say this will never be topped is quite realistic. But I’m going to do my best in 2019 to go bigger, farther, and enjoy every little bit along the way! I wanted to thank everyone who made this year possible. From my friends, new and old, who joined me on all these trips and hikes. To my family for supporting this move out West. I wish I could be home for more of the events so that I don’t miss the little ones growing up. And most importantly, to my girlfriend Courtney for being the most supportive, kind, and loving person I know. Without her, and her support, I would not have nearly half the experiences that we share now. Cheers to another year of adventures. Because… adventure doesn’t find you, you have to seek adventure!

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