With the year coming to a close, I am doing a “best of” highlight of this year’s hiking.
While this years brought me more challenges, of which some I struggled to overcome (though I have an idea for the next year), the year won’t end as badly as I hoped. Sure, it’s far from 2016’s 947km but it’s close to 2017’s 768km. 2018 is, as of pre-writing this, at 758km and I am hoping for at least one more hike this year, two if weather allows. Anyway, let’s get to the best-of.
The coldest hike
I don’t have any official record but I’ll give this to the end of February. While the temperature was likely similar to the hike two weeks before that (both between -10 and -15°C), this time it was accompanied by harsh, cold wind – enough to empty a place that’s usually bustling with people.
The longest hike
One of the biggest surprises. Something that usually comes in summer after some planning. 2018’s extremely hot summer killed much of my resolve regarding hiking (though, as I said, I have an idea how to combat that next year). And thus, the longest hike came out of nowhere a month after the coldest one. Being too fast done with the base 22km, I decided to walk around the village, adding another 9 km, thus bringing it to 31km.
The strangest surprise
This one comes to May. I was leading a hike organized by our club, suggestion made by a member and the hike itself adopted by me as someone who knows the place. It turned into a show of lucky improvisation as the weather was much better than the forecast and I decided to make a detour towards a waterfall slightly off-route. To avoid direct backtracking up a steep slope, we used a cycling trail that winds up around the ridge and I eventually chose a shortcut at one point. What we found there was a group of former classmates who rented a chalet for a meet-up with some beer – and were willing to share. Let’s hope karma gives them something back.
The loneliest hike
This was a random idea I had – go to a peak that pretty much unknown, with a small waterfall below it, and just make my way through the forests. As expected, I met exactly 0 (yes, zero) other hikers that day. And I enjoyed all of it.
There was a competition in the hike six days before this one but I eventually met two other people that day.
The stormiest hike
Okay, this one is easy, because there was exactly one with such an impact. The summer always carried a risk of quick storms, and there’s one that hits us every year. It does not matter that it’s gone in 30 minutes if those are enough to soak you through. If it’s warm enough for you to dry, it’s of little issue. What caused some side trouble was the fact I had my right boot damaged so water was getting in from below – and that the rest of my group managed to get lost in the minute I needed to empty my bladder. By the time the storm passed, I was soaked through but most of it dried on me before I departed the village where we ended. I eventually went a bit exhibicionist to the point I dropped my shorts and lay on a bench so the sun would dry my underwear (no worries, no photo of that, as far as I know).
The warmest hike
Contested/undecided. While some days were warmer than others, 2018 felt like weather went into “full hell” mode in the first week of April and that’s how it was until some 15th October. 2018’s summer lasted 6,5 months, at least here. Finding a day between mid-May and mid-September when the midday temperature did not get at least close to 30°C feels like an impossible task. Most of the time, it went well over. I am starting to miss the summers of late 90s where it was usually around 20-25°C, 30+ being a small miracle.
The hardest hike
Since difficulty is subjective and affected by factors like momentary conditions – and even things like feeling sleepy by the morning – it’d normally be hard to choose. Fortunately, I’ve created a scary formula (I won’t share it, at least not today) to help me determine just that. On that scale, 100 points is a hike of what I considered average difficulty back in 2010 when I started solo hiking. 125+ is slightly exhausting. 150+ is challenging. 175+ is very hard. 200+ is “doubt your sanity”.
This year’s ‘best score’ reached 184,999 points. And, surprisingly again, it was not a summer hike. It was a short, up-and-down all the time walk through a charming place. Barely 20km that totaled 1730m ascension and 1550m descent. And countless sights well worth it. From a moment when I stripped down to a single shirt to moments when I dug through my backpack for gloves. The charms of late September, I guess…
Visit to a place I delayed from spring. And a hike where the six of us returned with hundreds of mushrooms in – what we could carry them in, actually. We did not expect that we’d see groups of edible mushrooms everywhere in the forest. If each of us came with a wheelbarrow, we’d fill it, given enough time.
And that’s how I’ll end this post. I might do a “best of” for photos as well, if I feel like choosing something (which I really hate).