It’s been a few weeks now since finally home. The Death Valley & Joshua Tree visit over Thanksgiving was awesome, but that’s about it for the travelling in the near term (except for Tahoe of course, assuming we will actually get some snow). Death Valley was quite an adventure, starting with a sandstorm blowing in as we were pulling into camp. Glad I had the Anjan with me, it was so fierce that I “slept” through an night, while a nice layer of dust was collecting on my face and small dunes were growing inside the tent. I don’t even think the REI would have survived long-term after 110 evenings this year, and even if so, it would have been even more uncomfortable.
The rest of the time in DEVA was pretty awesome, great weather and even some pretty impressive sunsets & rises. It was my second time in the park, though the first was just a few hours at the Ibex Dunes with a severely swollen ankle and lots of pain back in March. JTree was equally awesome. Got a bit of outdoor climbing in, introduced to a number of famous routes and even managed to get up a 5.9 which is way above my usual outdoor level. On top of that, I dare say that the sunsets there were even better then DEVA, at the minimum more numerous. This Joshua Tree visit was also my second time to this park, and likewise the first consisting of a few hours just hiking near trashcan rock.
Beyond that, it was great to see some friends and finally experience the CHAOS Thanksgiving excursion. And it was a great opportunity to test some higher-scale recipes in my large dutch oven. It’s difficult to utilize normally since it makes such a large amount of food and typically camp with just 2-3 people. I didn’t pick a typical recipe though, I opted to try a slightly modified pumpkin roasted rice recipe, which came out awesome.
All-in-all, a good way to wrap up a solid few months of camping & travel. There’s certainly been a good number of highlights:
- Banff, Alaska & Green Tortoise adventures (breathtaking destinations with awesome people)
- The southwest, several times (all I can say is, damn)
- A chance to visit a number of national parks a second (or first) time, spending a few days to get to know the place
- On the longest and last journey to the east coast, visiting a lot of old friends & family
- Visiting new family now much closer by in Colorado!
- A solar eclipse!
- Other significant life milestones 🙂
Then, a few disappointments!
- Bad ankle sprain beginning of year in March – definitely put a significant damper on the amount & intensity of hiking and other podiatrically-demanding activities
- Arriving too late to the wildflower blooms at Mount Rainier – a nasty record-breaking heatwave hit the area with temps over 100, combined with a fairly significant dry-spell just destroyed the blooms. Out of the entire Paradise area, there were 2 small spots with decent flowers.
- But without question, the biggest one had to be the northeast fall foliage season. The months preceding it were basically color-perfect weather. As the September weeks progressed, the colors started to come slightly early, when suddenly (again) a record-breaking heatwave blasted through the region completely muting the colors. What came after was weeks-delayed watered-down foliage color overall. Here and there, a few small areas and trees put on a somewhat better show but generally it was a several-years worst foliage season.
You win some, you lose some, right? 🙂