As I sit and look back at the year that was 2014 all I can do is smile. Hiking Forward started the year off quite slow as the continual polar vortex's kept us inside and at bay for the large portion of the winter. But just a spring broke the idea of an epic adventure sprouted and adventure was just around the corner. I owe my good friend Adam Nutting from Hiking The Trail a lot due to the creation of an epic adventure that he invited me to participate in and offering continual counsel on how to take Hiking Forward where I wanted it to go. Thanks brother!
Being added to Hell Hike and Raft in early 2014 was definitely one of the many highlights of my year. This event catapulted me into being more creative, engaged and gave me the energy to expand Hiking Forward. I had no idea back in March what this singular moment would mean now.
Below are the top 5 moments and events that helped shape my year and Hiking Forward.
# 5 Time on the Ice Age Trail - Nothing Like Getting Away
There is nothing like an impromptu trip away. Especially a trip with good friends, hiking a National Scenic Trail with great food and tons of laughter. Theses experiences always fill the soul yet leave you dreaming of the next opportunity to share the outdoors again. Earlier this year I got to hike along the Ice Age Trail in southern Wisconsin with some good friends and enjoy this very kind of experience. Getting outdoors doesn't have to be complicated. Simplicity and the right ingredients make for the perfect experience.
#4 Chosen as a Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer and Potable Aqua Ambassador
On May 23, 2014 I announced that I was formally asked to participate as a Teton Sports Mountain Adventurer and serve as a Potable Aqua Ambassador. I was extremely honored to be asked to serve in both capacities for these amazing and "forward" thinking companies. I have enjoyed utilizing the gear that both organizations create and look forward to continuing the relationships into 2015.
Teton Sports Ambassador Page
#3 Continued Fun, Adventure and Laughter with My Friends from the Corn Desert Hikers
I always make sure that I make time to hang with my buds from the Corn Desert Hikers. This year was no exception, even though I wish I could do more, this year we had some pretty amazing times in varying seasons. I was fortunate to participate in our Annual Freeze Your Butt event in January, the Memorial Day weekend event and most recently the fall trek down to Garden of the Gods. This group and the relationships we have together are amazing. We may go months without seeing one another, but when we get back together its magic and like we were together yesterday. This feeling of instantaneous comradery is addicting making you want to be out every weekend with this crew of like minded people.
#2 Being Selected as the 5th Best Hiking and Outdoor Travel Blog by USAToday and 10Best.com
I was elated and speechless to hear I was even in the same company as some of the people who were also nominated for this distinction. Over the course of the month of August the public voted to determine who were the top 10 Hiking and Outdoor Travel blogs. I was overjoyed within the first few days to see I was in the top five. Over the course of the month my standing ebbed and flowed up and down throughout the rankings. The contest ended and the winner were announced while I was on trail and on river during Hell Hike and Raft. I along with my comrades all turned on our phones to get the hundreds of emails and phone messages we missed while away. Included in my messages was the announcement of being proclaimed the 5th Best Hiking and Outdoor Blog.
To this day I still can't believe it's true. But I am quite honored to be in some great company of bloggers who I respect, read and follow.
#1 Growing My Outdoor Family
With the addition Hell Hike and Raft to my list of adventures this year, the transformation of Hiking Forward, addition of ambassadorships and increased activity in #hikerchat and other online venues my outdoor family has grown. Some I have have had the privilege to meet in person and share an epic adventure with. Others, I learn from a far and hope to one day be able to adventure along side. The amazing thing about our community of practice is the openness and willingness to share ones own experiences and knowledge.
Meeting my new friends turned trail family during Hell Hike and Raft solidified my vision of a what an experience should be like when on trail. A lucky adventurer was I to be teamed up with eleven other amazing people and awesome guides to share an epic adventure with. I can't wait to see what is in store for all of us as the calendar turns.
I look forward to adventuring with you again and meeting those of you I haven't yet.
A Happy, Safe and EPIC New Year to you All!
Keep Hiking Forward!
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