New national parks: 15
New site-specific badges: 63
We visited a total of seventy-seven sites this year, earning sixty-three new site-specific badges. 2018 was a year for checking off NPS bucket list items. Crater Lake National Park has been on our list for a while, and we finally got to gaze at those magical blue waters this summer. Our return to Yellowstone National Park began with a drive through the iconic Roosevelt Arch. A spring trip to Congaree National Park allowed us to mark off our goal of getting on the water at the South Carolina site. Our 2017 trip to Zion involved staring up towards the sky as little dots made their way across a cliff. We were the dots atop Angels Landing in 2018! Reaching new park goals was just the beginning, though.
52 Hike Challenge
We started the 52 Hike Challenge on a trip to Great Smoky Mountains in August of 2017. We completed the challenge with a hike around Devils Tower in July. While some hikes were on our local trails, over half of our hikes took place at NPS sites. The summer trip included a nature trail at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve that helped us complete our junior ranger book, climbing ladders to stand in awe of the three bridges at Natural Bridges National Monument, and climbing to the top of Lassen Peak while visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park. The total mileage for round one was 119.53. We had so much fun the first time around that we started the Adventure Series in August of this year and are already on pace to hit at least 150 miles.
We became wild keepers through Keep Nature Wild back in the spring and have picked up over ten pounds of trash at NPS sites over three terms. Many junior ranger programs ask that you pick up trash as one of your activities, so this has simply encouraged us to do a little bit more. Being part of the community has really opened our eyes to the importance of leaving no trace and the widespread issue of micro-trash. The good news is that we can all make a difference by packing out what we pack in and heading out to the trails prepared to pick up after those who don’t.
Dare Mighty Things
We hosted several meetups throughout the fall in an attempt to get more of our friends outside and active. Our first hike of the new 52 Hike Challenge was with a group of friends on one of our local trails. Several more friends joined us for a trip down the river two months later. Being outside, pushing limits, and experiencing natural wonders has brought us incredible peace and joy. Some of our greatest moments have come from daring mighty things in the outdoors, and we feel that those experiences should be shared!
Semisonic once sang, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” We were lucky to share our 2018 adventures with lots of new friends from the Instagram community, family members, and friends from home, but we know that 2019 is pure potential. There are new trails to hike, badges to earn, and vistas to view, and we can’t wait to share those moments with you.