Saturday, January 9, 2016

2015: A Photo Essay


This blog and I once again drifted away from each other for awhile. It wasn't because I did nothing or because I had nothing to say. I simply did not have the right attitude nor did I feel the desire to share. In fact, I've been composing this "new post" for a long time. It started as a race trip report, but time slipped away and I raced again. And then I traveled some more and it turned into a travel piece. Then the mountains called out and I literally went running. I've had a busy couple of months to end the second most stressful year of my adult life. So I decided to delete the words and start over a few times. This time I've decided to make this post my yearly photo recap.

Some of the pictures and stories have already been presented, but several new adventures and many new photos are included. As usual, the primary purposes of the this post match those of the blog - to share my experiences with family and friends and to inspire others to extend their physical and mental limits through travel, adventure, or athleticism. My hope is that readers, some of whom I formed new and powerful relationships with in 2015, can share in the happiness and knowledge I've gained through the experiences presented here. These photos are not grouped chronologically, but some highlighted trips are captioned together. Enjoy! ST

The early season win in Alabama (top of blog post) was soon forgotten amidst health issues, but I found myself returning to form late in the Fall. I must offer a heartfelt thank you to Polar for the continued support during a difficult year.
 A trailess walk through a rare and breathtaking landscape . . .
 . . . surprisingly close to home.
A jog along the Continental Divide Trail in CO . . .
Backroads are where nature's secrets are hidden in IN.
. . . allows me to lay down amongst the vibrant colors of high CO
A long anticipated hike atop the windswept piles in Great Sand Dune National Park, CO did not disappoint.
Fall foliage raining down during a romantic stroll along the AT.
 Surrounded and accompanied by beauty deep in the Smokies.
Is this edible?
Rhododendron seen anywhere reminds me of the Smokies. (AT)
Yet another walk along the therapeutic trails of the Smokies . . . 
. . . beneath towering trees and blue skies.
It's an all-in-one gym, church, and theatre membership!

A long hike under a perfectly clear sky in Yellowstone was shortened by the first of two grizzly encounters in one day.
The sights along Lake Yellowstone were interesting . . .
. . . and aesthetically pleasing . . .
. . . and highly appreciated . . .
. . . so I stayed all day.

There are several canyons to hike through at Grand Teton National Park. I hiked all of them 2015.
I also climbed to 13,000 feet on the back side of the Grand Teton pinnacle before ice turned me back.
A visit to Canyonlands National Park . . .
. . . provided me with opportunities for several desert hikes and runs . . . 
. . . through a variety of landscapes . . .
. . . with occasional memorable reflective pauses . . .
. . . and a few playful poses.
Once again I was treated to hikes into the depths of (and back up from!) the Grand Canyon . . . 
. . . as well as an illuminating view of outer space.
Large animal encounters were common all throughout the summer journeys.
 I woke to this Colorado River campsite/breakfast view in Castle Valley near Moab and Arches NP. Amen!
These noble figures seemed to enjoy the blue sky and view of Arches National Park.
The Signature Senior trip involved a paddle on the Green River . . .
. . . and an informative talk given by a master orator, knowledgable historian, and a super nice man at Mammoth Cave.
The wine and scenery enjoyed along the St Croix river in Stillwater, MN offset the nerves and a Du Nat DNF.
This trusty old tent found resting places in many majestic lands, including this one at Teddy Roosevelt NP in ND.
The family oriented wild ponies of Teddy Roosevelt were as inspiring as they were gorgeous.
Yellowstone was so beautiful that it sometimes appeared too perfect to be real.
The ct carried me through several more long journeys at nearly 48 mpg.
All along the way there were signs that I was on the right path . . . 
. . . and that I wasn't alone.
The sandstones of Utah (here in Arches NP) were breathtaking . . .
. . . and often mesmerizing (Navajo Antelope Canyon, AZ).
Yes, I did it again and I cannot explain why.
Though most were self made, mochas like this one in Durango often fueled my 50,000 pages of reading during 2015.
I managed to locate many magnificent piles of rocks . . .
. . . and I climbed a great many of them! (Shavano Peak)
Friends acquired along the path to Shavano's summit . . .
. . . where I also made a new booboo which I promptly cleaned before treating . . .
. . . during a visit to a nearby medicinal establishment.
He stole the show as usual during our belated Father's Day meal. Say cheese!
Notice who is smiling and who is pondering life's decisions here. (What a treat that meet up was!)
Forty five mph selfies - I'm learning to like them:)
First and second place at the Hardrock 100. An excellent weekend except for . . .
. . . that time the road gave way and a buried boulder saved us from some acrobatics.
He had just lunged at The Hardrock in a time of 47:59:59. What a kick!
It's a mocha. It's a stout. It's marvelous, baby!
Four more ascents of Mt Sterling in three different seasons - simply not enough.
A quick ascent of La Plata Peak finished off my 14er climbing for 2015 . . .
. . . with a seemingly endless supply of "great views" and . . .
. . . a foreboding summit shot and . . . 
a mad charge at a bully.
One sultry day I found myself at the Gateway . . .
. . . with my littlest buddy - and several members of his entourage.
My new brewing buddy and I made lots of beer in 2015. (Drinking some Hefe while I blog)
We also saw a few concerts in The Cabin. What a venue!
We even came across "The Root Beer" during one show. (Hello diabetic coma!)
The Boss, Dave, honored me with a seat on his tandem during a Hammerfest TT. What a blast!!
Several late summer and fall afternoons were spent with paddle in hand . . .
. . . and beauty all around.
I wore the cape for the heroes, but I did not run for another silly trophy.
Do you see it? Nature was showing some love.
Another visit to LBL tested my recovery and fitness. Was this really a selfie?
He bolted away from me for the win at the nine mile mark. A hilly half on nine miles per week was painful . . .
. . . and I even managed to bleed! Well, maybe I should have gotten the stitches before I ran.
A perch along the AT on the spine of Mt Cammerer. The clouds closed in before we reached the fire tower lookout.
And this is why I rarely take selfies . . . 
I enjoyed many sunrise runs in "My" woods at USI - where I have walked and run since 1980. Love!
One of my favorite shots of 2015. Sunrise over Pigeon Creek at the Ohio . . .
. . . the view only seemed to improve as I climbed to the top of the bridge like I often did as a child. Reminiscing!

Chattanooga's Stone Cup Cafe: I changed my mind, but he prepared both "Jennifer's Jolt" (how fitting!) and the Mocha.
Hemlock Falls - Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA
The beer was great and he gave us the glasses!
Cold Brew with nitrogen infusion - welcome to my world, my love!
Some mighty deep contemplation occurring right there. (Cherokee Falls)
Ah! A much needed backpack trip in the Smokies. Amen!
When too many people stop at the best campsite EVER . . .



. . . a little creativity is required:)
My 100th visit to the Great Smokies was enchanting, meditative, and . . .
. . . as rewarding as I had hoped it would be.
Day hikes after the backpack, and the rain, led me . . .
. . . along historic mountain roads . . .
. . . to beautiful resting places . . .
. . . where many souls have left bodies . . .
. . . to where my own reflecting mirrored that of century old glass , , ,
. . . and nature's uncanny beauty . . . 
. . . appeared in varied artistic forms.
A home away from home: my playground.
My first time at a potter's wheel: I managed to make several Empty Bowls amid the failures.
Amen again.
We slept on the cabin's deck in sleeping bags with this massive fella as our watchman.

The athletic year ended on a positive note. After four months of running 3-4 flat 5K's per week I took on the rugged Lookout Mountain 50 Mile trail run. I suppose some people might believe I would be upset about dropping out at mile 30, but I am actually elated with the result. I ran strongly with a group of 50-70 mpw runners and dropped before any serious damage was done. This enabled me to resume normal training a few days later with enthusiasm to take on what lies before me in 2016.