Thank you to our readers for the support and open dialogue this year! We love connecting with each of you.
We’ve been talking about this for years, but our sign at Fort Reno is making real progress! Yes, it’s the progress of a slug climbing Mt. Whitney, but it’s happening. National Park Service has completed the paperwork to accept the donation. We’re just waiting on signatures to make it official. The Highpointers Foundation, who is footing the bill, will happily accept donations to help the cause. Total price is $2,000. Feeling benevolent? Click here and note that you would like your donation to be earmarked for the Summit Chicks Fort Reno sign.
2017 was a year of personal growth for me. Most years of my adult life have been status quo. But, 2017 was replete with change and overcoming obstacles. I only bagged two new summits this year, but they were notable: Mt. Hood and Kings Peak. I’d harbored a tremendous amount of anxiety since my failed first attempt on Hood in 2013. History leading up to the climb seemed to be repeating itself, making me question how many times I’d return to Oregon (which is a lovely state worth multiple trips). But, we muscled through. I am both grateful and humble to have had the honor of standing atop the highest point in Oregon. This highpoint, a thorn in my side for four years, has held the most meaning for me out of any of my 44 yet.
One long-term friend and three friends I made this year joined me for the adventure on Kings Peak. We survived cooking, water filtration, and moose in the back woods for three days. A neophyte backpacker, this was new ground – an experience that stretched me.
A failed attempt on Boundary Peak, while disappointing, is something I am able to shrug off. I had already conquered my personal Everest with Hood earlier in the year. Closing out the year with 45 under my belt would have been fantastic, but I’m at peace with another trip to Nevada. Maybe I’ll fly into Reno next time and head south to make the trip feel new. I’m open to suggestions.
As a planner, I can’t help myself. Two big mountains are already booked for 2018: Gannett and Granite Peaks. I expect these adventures to be larger and tougher than Oregon and Utah combined. While I am hopeful for successful summits and I will train hard, my growth this year has taught me not to be tied to any particular outcome. The mountains will always be there. Still, as I ring in the new year and contemplate what lies ahead, I will ask the mountain gods to smile favorably upon us. I’d love to continue my mantra from Hood – we’ve got this.
2017 started off right with a trip to New Jersey’s highpoint on New Year’s Day. That trip really set the tone for the year as far as highpointing went. We’ve done most of the east coast highpoints now, so our days of driving from one to another and bagging three to five highpoints in one trip are done. Instead we’ve been picking one highpoint, and combining that drive with trips to National Parks, and state capitol buildings. We’re not going to win any speed records for completing the highpoints, but it’s a balance that works for us.
Our three highpoints this year were New Jersey, Indiana, and Virginia. Of the three Virginia was my favorite. We had an amazingly clear day, and it was great to do what felt like a real hike with my kids. It gave me hope that soon we can start hiking out west as a family.
The National Parks we visited were amazing and varied. Some were historical like Steamtown (near the New Jersey highpoint), and the Dayton Aviation Heritage Site (near the Indiana highpoint.) Other amazingly beautiful places, like the Delaware Water Gap, near the New Jersey highpoint, are ones we would have never visited if they had not been strategically placed near a highpoint.
Our best National Park visits though came on a non-highpointing trip. During a western road trip with my extended family we were able to visit Fort Union, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Bandelier National Monument. All of these were amazing, and I highly recommend taking the time to visit all of them if you can.
Next year we only have firm plans to visit one highpoint – Woodall Mountain in Mississippi. We’ll hit it on a trip we have planned to see Nashville and The Natchez Trace. We also have trips planned to see the Wright Brothers Memorial, and to do some winter hiking in West Virginia. That will take us through Easter, and then we’ll see what’s in store for summer. Right now I’m feeling South Dakota, but who knows.
“We travel not to escape life…But for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
Our best wishes to all of our readers to enjoy Happy Holidays and great adventures in the New Year.
Raina and Jill
The Summit Chicks