And 2017 is Going to be Sweet
Now that 2017 is officially up and going it's about time to solidify some of my goals for the new year. I already talked about how 2016 was for me and hinted at a few areas of growth that I want to focus on moving forward. Which may be a bit optimistic, as Katie and I will be welcoming a little girl to our family in early February, and babies (especially the third one) can do a fantastic job at drastic shifts in lifestyles. Anyways, here are some goals for the coming year.
Hike the Grand Canyon, R2R2R
In 2015 Chris and I hiked down the South Kaibab trail, visited Phantom Ranch, and then hiked back up Bright Angel. This is a classic Rim-to-River-to-Rim route in the Grand Canyon and is around 20 miles and 5000' of AEG. I got it done in nine hours, though I do feel like I could have completed it quicker on a second go. The more ambitious Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R2R2R) is more than double this, adding an extra 28 miles and 5800' of AEG. My goal is to do this whole thing in a single day.
Yes, this is completely nuts. I've completed a few 30 mile days in the Upper Peninsula with minimal elevation gain and no heat issues. To make something like this happen I'll need to average 3 mph with a few breaks mixed in and will be hiking from before-sunup to after-sundown. There will be training (Mt Ord is perfect for this) and lots of nutrition planning. And it would be something that I'd never forget. The first visit to the Grand Canyon was magic already, and doing the full thing would be amazing.
Explore the Western Mazatzals
Speaking of backpacking: the Mazatzals. I spent much of last year upgrading my gear to ultralight and going out on test outings, slowly learning new skills and techniques. All this is perfect preparation for the type of hardships that the western half of the Mazatzal Wilderness promise. The trails are poorly defined, elevation differences are extreme, access is limited, and water is sporadic at best. Multi-day outings where I can pack in a minimal amount of gear is the best way to tackle this.
I've been on three different attempts to venture into these lands. The first time I had a heavy pack and was not prepared for the poor trail conditions. Other two times I came in from the east, hauling myself and a light pack up three thousand feet before trying to drop down the other side. Bad gear and cramping legs cut these trips short. My hope is that, with preparation and appropriate caution, I can began charting Deadman and Midnight Mesa and even Willow Springs Trail this year.
Start Backpacking with the Boys
Katie and I took Noah out for a camping trip in fall of 2016. He had a ball out there, even if we had to bail early from storms. With baby girl showing up soon I'm hoping that Katie will let me go out on semi-frequent little overnight trips with one or both boys. Thomas may not be ready until the fall (he's not even two yet) but Noah has been showing a ton of interest about my different trips. There are a few challenges to overcome, like how to strike a balance between my ultralight shelters and something that they'll sleep in, or what kinds of foods to bring, or even who is carrying what gear, yet they all sound like fun challenges that will be totally worth their experience.
More Involved Parent
Being a parent is hard. Like, especially so when your partner is busy and you are trying to split your attention between multiple kids and do boring adult stuff all by yourself. I'll admit, I tend to integrate them in my pre-existing plans. If I have to run some errands and then do some outdoors work, then they come along and then tag along (more often help) with the outside stuff. Or if I have to work late or am busy with an open source project, then I camp out in the living room with my laptop open and try to minimize kid interruptions. While this isn't the worst, next year I want to get involved in their plans more.
There's a lot of cool things in the area that we can do together. They like to hike (for short and distracted distances, anyways), they enjoy the zoo, Noah just discovered the awesomeness of Legoland, Thomas loves every time we go for a walk around the block, etc. Earlier in 2016 I was good about trying to do two activities focused on them every weekend, like going to the zoo on Saturday and having a pizza-and-movie night on Sunday, but then the holidays cluttered up things and I got lazy. I want to do better this year, especially with one-on-one time. Having one of them for an evening, even if it's once a month, opens up a whole different level of interaction that would be good for all of us.
2016 ended in an odd state for me health-wise. On one hand I lost over thirty pounds and feel pretty good about where I fall on a BMI chart (the low end of 'normal'). And I've been working out consistently for a few months and feel good in general, too. However, my lower back is all mussed up now, with hikes and short jogs triggering spasms that last days. I pushed too hard too fast and am still paying the price.
So, my goal for this year is to work my way, slowly, to the point where I'm doing a program like P90X or Body Beast by the middle of the year. Starting on New Year's Day I switched from a cardio routine to yoga, and I plan on advancing every three to four weeks. From beginner's yoga to intermediate to a mid-level cardio, etc, and then back to weights in a few months, and hopefully back to running and such in time for the summer heat. This will not only help me out with the Grand Canyon training, it will be a better approach to handle the back.
Upgrade this Website
For the last year I've been working on simplifying the codebase that this blog, as well as my waterfalls and other sites, runs on. Breaking out dependencies, using gulp for front-end modules, even creating some microservices to simplify the data layer. I plan on continuing this work throughout 2017 with the goal of having the whole application running on Amazon/Digital Ocean (yay high availability) nodes, deploying with CI, and using the latest version of PHP. The comment service was a great first step, and moving on to separate services for media metadata and geodata will allow me to be more flexible with the data and maybe experiment with mashups and/or APIs.
That's about it. Some lofty goals, perhaps, though last year turned out to be really productive. As long as baby girl showing up doesn't derail things too much I have some optimism about getting all of these done. Though, even if working out doesn't work out and the hiking plans get sidetracked, I think I'd be happy enough just having number three around and spending more time with the boys this year.