My free time during 2018 was overtaken by Mountain Rescue and family. Which isn't all that bad, nor was it that unexpected, just means that some of the hobbies I used to enjoy and some of the goals I set for the year did not survive through December. And, to be honest, looking into 2019 probably means more of the same, which makes it difficult to come up with new, exciting resolutions for the upcoming year.
Recap of Last Year
The first half of last year was fully dedicated to the rescue group. I barely hiked, only going on four trips that could be considered challenging, one of which was another failed Motherlode attempt, and I'm still smarting over that one. Shoot, I didn't even enter the Mazatzal Wilderness proper until June. My free time was spent reading manuals and practicing knots and taking climbing classes and, of course, hanging out with the kids. Then the second half of the year completely blew up, with Katie getting a full-time job and me getting a work promotion, making it harder to juggle kids and personal projects. We're still adjusting to the change.
Even with the busier second half of the year I was able to keep up with Mountain Rescue (barely), finish the Mazatzal Project, and bump up my workout regimen. Personal coding has become a far-distant dream, though, and my blog and websites have been largely neglected. Also, burnout is becoming a worry, and I've tried to set aside more time for self-care, including occasional yoga and dedicated chill-out evenings, which usually means an early bedtime for kids, watching a quick show or playing a game, and maybe even a hot bath. While it feels weird to turn off for hours at a time, a bit of relaxation sprinkled throughout the week provides a good amount of clarity.
In the end, I suppose that 2018 will go down as the year I finished the Mazatzal Project and somehow maintained a grip on other things while Katie's and my career accelerated forward. And as excited as I am to finish the wilderness trails, I'm struggling to find another fun hiking project of the same magnitude.
It's only fair that I keep focus on this, especially as I'm entering my second recruit year and, over the summer, will be going through a trial to become a Rescue Technician. The last few months have been a mix of learning mechanical advantage systems and land navigation techniques, and we start the year by moving onto more niche skills, like alpine and swiftwater rescue. Alpine will be fun, a return to snowy hikes and cold air, and I'm excited to see what new skills we add to it.
Rescue trials is weighing heavily on my mind. I'm trying to approach this entire experience as a net benefit, regardless if I am accepted to the team, though failing the final test would be quite a blow. To prepare I will be putting together a six-month plan that involves both regular mini-tests and increased physical training, though I need to make sure that we can keep to it while juggling family and job. But yeah, that's a focus for the year, preparing for and passing trials.
I may have finished the trails in the Mazatzal Wilderness, yet I'm not letting myself off the hook that easily. There are off-trail destinations to reach, peaks to bag, and, just maybe, an online resource to create that is solely dedicated to the wilderness. In particular I'm looking forward to venturing into some of the 'gaps', the swaths of land in between trails, some of which are miles deep and have lands untouched by the Willow Fire. Looking at you, Limestone Hills.
There are other lands to explore as well. Sierra Ancha is appealing, with its rugged landscape and scenic cliffs, even if it is much smaller than the Mazzies (only 60 miles of trails compared to 275). I can probably complete the Anchas with one backpack, one car-camp, and one day-hike. And then there are the Superstitions, which was my first Arizona wilderness, and the Grand Canyon and Kofa and Pine Mountain and Cedar Bench… Plenty of options, just hard to imagine that any of them will be as challenging or rewarding as the Mazatzals.
Whether it's working out or taking time to mentally unwind or spending time with family, I still need to take time away from the side projects. Weight-lifting has been a fun thing to mix in, especially with my kids, and they have little 3 and 5 pound dumbbells that they do squats with and make adorable scenes. While I did have to work through a few injuries this year, I'm quite happy with the results of almost-daily workouts, whether they were circuit or intensity training. The only thing I'm hoping to add next year is some running or rucking.
One big miss of 2018 was backpacking with the kids. I really want to get the boys out there, get them used to sleeping outside and taking responsibility of their gear and such, and they've both asked multiple times about it. It's just hard to do with Katie working most weekends and Charlotte being so young. Eh, we'll figure it out, and worst case we can just bring Charlotte along too.
There are other things I want to work on in 2019, especially with the family, like maybe starting summer vacations or weekly game nights. And then there's Katie too, and wanting to take care of and spend time with her, especially as she juggles being a mom and manager for the first time in five years. I'm not sure if everything will balance, especially with Mountain Rescue, though with a careful eye and thorough plans this could be a great year.