So it’s November 5th which means it’s my best friend Brian Lane’s birthday. He’s turning 70. And since one of the other things I’m doing this month is sharing top 5 lists from the last decade, I figured what better way to start my top 5’s off with hiking trips since all of my top 5 hiking memories involve him. So here we go, batten down the hatches, ship up or ship out, these boots are made for walking and let’s tell some hiking stories.

Moment 5 The Olympic Peninsula: I should start out by saying I’ve already screwed this up because I’m not really describing moments per se. I’m actually describing trips but I will share with you moments from the trip and somewhere in this little tale is the 5th best moment. This also was actually 2 hikes, one along the coast which was an entirely rocky beach hike in which we camped in this really cool pirate looking cove. It was me Brian and Josh. Me and Josh bought matching rain jackets and when ascending or descending a very slippery muddy but fun hill, Josh almost fell to his death or severe wounding. Did I mention it was rainy?

In fact, the whole 5 days of hiking and camping was cold and rainy which I did not complain about once (other accounts would suggest I complained incessantly about the cold and the rain and rushed us through the second leg of the hike so as not to camp another night. History is written by the victors they say). The coastal hike was 2 days. We hiked to the Peruvian monument which was some abandoned life jackets and seeming trash and back to the pirate cove to camp over night. It was very cool I will admit but exhausting hiking on sandy pebbles and being soaked. The pictures are worth it.

From there we took a ferry I think and ended up somewhere where they filmed Twilight and were in a store looking for sandals. I left a bag with Josh that eventually got lost but was somehow recovered and mailed to Josh by the shop it was found out. Thank God. I think there was a book I really wanted in it. From there we hiked somewhere else in Olympic Peninsula and saw a bear in the distance. It was also a cool hike but we did it in the dark and then in the fog and in the cold and in the rain. We played rummy in the tent which led to a memorable moment. I’m also pretty sure I won. I’m very good at rummy 500. In fact I played everyday before wrestling practice my senior year of high school.

After our time of hiking, we hung out in Seattle and played board games at this board game restaurant. See now I’m including details that have nothing to do with hiking, so I’ll move on.

4 Yosemite Half Dome– This one is rather straightfoward. Last minute I agreed to go to Brian and I old roommate Nate’s wedding in Santa Cruz, California. Nate and Val were getting married so a few days before we decided to try to squeeze in a quick drive to Yosemite Park. We got there at 10 PM ate a pizza, went to sleep in the car, got a notice on the windshield that we needed to beware of becoming bear food, woke up at 5 am and began hiking 7 miles to the top of Half Dome without a permit because Brian planned the hike.

Thankfully they let us go up on someone else’s permit. It was very fun. We did a photoshoot on the top and then on the way down the dome someone dropped a knife on Brian and he got annoyed just like the time a flight stewardess tried to sneak rum into his Coca Cola on a flight to a ministers conference in Utah. But to each their own we made it back down and towards the end of the hike there was two brown bears walking pretty close to us. It was a little scary, but we were with another group and one of the guys had a gun and I’m pretty sure I could run faster than a few of them.

After the 13 mile hike we got back in the car drove 3 hours back to Santa Cruz and was very very very exhausted. So tired, we were too tired to go to lunch the next day. Also Nate and Val’s wedding was awesome in every way. It was a very happy wedding and we got to ride a roller coaster with the bridal party in which the picture is me raising my hands and mostly covering up Brian’s face!!! Live Laugh Love.

3 The Enchantments– This is my most recent hike and honestly could easily be #1. It was without a doubt the most beautiful and grueling hike I’ve ever done. Furthermore it was the first real intense hike I did post ACL/Meniscus surgery and felt was a great test for if that surgery worked. The day before the hike Josh and I hiked a little mountain and ate cookies at the top and it was very sweet. Then the next day Brian and I woke up very early, dropped off by Josh at the trailhead and undertook one of the most arduous adventures of my life. We arrived at Colchuck Lake after 4 miles of walking with some elevation. The lake was beautiful and pituresque and felt unreal. What followed was an hour and a half ascent up 2,000 feet of loose rock and boy was that exhausting. I mean easily the hardest part of the hike that felt like it lasted forever.

But we made it to the major portion of The Enchanments. This other worldly several mile stretch of lakes and snow and mountain goats. It was awesome! And then the hours and hours long descent which felt like my legs and feet were going to fall off. I think it took 15 hours, maybe more but it was wonderful. I couldn’t hardly move the next day, like struggled to walk type of move. But it was worth it.

2 Second Zion Trip– I love so much about the Second Zion trip. Mostly because it felt like we hadn’t even planned to do it it felt like until we landed. We decided to head to Utah instead of the Grand Canyon, did a cool little slot canyon along the way and made it back to Zion to hike The Subway and The Narrows. This time Brian and I had Josh with us, who always makes the trips more exciting. He adds an extra bit of whimsy and is usually a cooler head who helps balance the riskiness that Brian and I often find ourselves in when we get into precarious situations.

This trip was no different. We also went to Vegas and a UFO museum all of which was awesome. I didn’t love the casinos and the Vegas strip. There also was an infamous portion of our time in Vegas where I complained a lot about Circus Circus not feeling like a Circus at all. As far as themed casinos go I was very disappointed.

But the hiking was great fun. We fit in a lot too. We hiked Bryce Canyon as well. But The Subway was also great fun. We returned back to our first ever hike and did it with a few more people, had just as much fun and finished it way faster. We actually enjoyed being in The Subway portion of the hike this time. The hike out of the canyon was still tiring but all in all it was such a fun trip.

1 First Zion trip– It’s so hard for me to not think about Brian and I’s first hiking trip and not love it for so many reasons. It could be the distance it is in the past or the fact that we had no idea what we were doing, learned how to repel, the fact that I almost died, and we made a difficult hike almost impossible because we really weren’t great with directions or entirely knew where we were going and were largely alone because we started late in the day and found the last person left on the trail to give us a ride in his van back to our car. Whatever the case may be that trip made me feel new things and stretched my capacity for adventure and really made me see the extraordinary value of my best friend Brian. He literally was holding me up attached to a rope as I was standing horizontally on the side of a rock wall, pulling me the up side of it about 45 feet.

I remember how good our dinner tasted after that hike. I remember the slot canyon side trails we did and the cool jeep we rented. It felt like a trip you go on with your best friend and it was really our first trip and hike we had done. There may have been better overall hikes. Half Dome and The Enchantments were both cool but both of those hikes we were on the trail for a long time with other people around. The first Subway hike, we did not see people for most of the hike, if not only for the very end. We got lost, it was grueling. When we got to the portion of the hike that I saw in a picture, literally the reason I picked the trip to begin with, we exhaustedly almost walked right through it without taking it in. What made that hike and that trip so exciting is I think we were both aware that it was all new. We were in a new place, doing something we really weren’t good at and relying on each other while experiencing it all for the first time and it was a wonderful time.

Runners Up: Hikes in Hawaii with Richard, Hiking alone in Acadia, Dropping my phone in a river with Brian in the Smokeys, Tamany Loop, New Market Mountain near Harrisonburg, VA, hiking in New York with Christian, Matt, Corne and Cabo, The Walk of the Gods in Italy with my Momma.

Thanks for Reading.

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