Well, we did it — when I press the Publish button, it will be our 52nd post of 2016. We went a full year of posting weekly trail descriptions, gear reviews, commentary, stories of bicycle and float trips, and tales of outdoor adventures out of our usual routine. Ruth and I started this blog in May of 2015, so this is our first full year of putting up new content every week. To be honest, not counting outdoor recreation and visits with family, 2016 has been one of those years to endure instead of enjoy. But instead of listing all the bad things that happened this past year, I’d rather look back on all the fun we had, summarized in a few statistics below.
- We put our boots on the ground — to the tune of 141.45 miles over the course of the year. That’s actually down a little bit from our 2015 numbers, but one of our goals for 2016 was to do more non-hiking adventures.
- We went hiking on 33 different days. Some of those days included multiple hikes.
- Our shortest hike of the year was 1.1 miles (on a greenway) and the longest was 11.5 miles (in the Bankhead National Forest, of course).
- One specific goal was to do more float trips, and we managed that, with three kayak trips in 2016 — two on the Elk River, and one on Terrapin Creek. We logged 17.2 water miles this year.
- We also had two bicycle trips, one on the Richard Martin trail, and the other on the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.
- Another goal was to cast a wider net geographically, which we did by hiking in five states (AL, GA, TN, TX, and NM) and one U.S. Territory (Puerto Rico).
- We had two overnight stays during the year — two nights in a cabin, and two nights in a yurt. I think there may be some tent (or hammock) camping in our plans for 2017!
- State parks are great! We visited five state parks in Alabama (Monte Sano, Lake Guntersville, Cathedral Caverns, Buck’s Pocket, and Cheaha), two in Tennessee (South Cumberland and Tim’s Ford), one in Georgia (Cloudland Canyon), and Ruth visited one in Texas (Franklin Mountain).
- Federal lands were also well-represented, with several trips to TVA properties, U.S. Forest Service properties (El Yunque, Talladega, and Bankhead National Forests), and a National Wildlife Refuge.
- Smaller properties have their charms too, as we made trips to three private reserves, City of Huntsville greenways, a couple of Wilderness Management Areas, and various Land Trust of North Alabama preserves.
- We really stepped it up on non-hiking experiences this year, with zip lining, jet skiing, and scuba diving trips.
- Our modest little blog has performed well this year — 10,329 views as of this writing, from 4,454 visitors. The U.S. accounted for nearly all the views, but we had visitors from 58 other countries. Some of them might not have been bots. Last year’s numbers were 3,269 views from 1,229 visitors, but remember the blog was only up for about 8 months in 2015.
- To judge from our most popular posts (of all time), you want us to kayak up and down the Paint Rock River looking for marker trees. Well, OK then.
So what will 2017 hold? Well, Santa Claus was generous to us both this year, with some cool weather gear that will encourage us to get in some winter hiking. Another gift will add a new dimension to the blog — a GoPro camera — so be watching our Facebook page for video content once we figure out how to use the contraption. And we have one adventure already booked for April which promises to be a lot of fun! We’ve been eyeing a couple of float trips in the general area, there are still a few trails we haven’t done in the Bankhead, we’re overdue for an overnight backpacking trip, and I really hope we can squeeze in a weekend in our beloved Smoky Mountains, which we didn’t visit this year. And new trails are calling….