2020 in Review: A Year of Hiking and Exploration

2020 brought many challenges: canceled trips, working from home, missing family and friends, and an all-encompassing feeling of uncertainty and anxiety. It also brought us many unexpected joys and discoveries. We started our hiking blog, dove into backpacking together, and really reevaluated what we find most important in life. We prioritized getting outside and walking in the woods or the mountains almost every week. Whether it was 3 miles in a local reservation or 32 miles in the White Mountains, taking the time to be with ourselves, with each other, and with nature, grounded us through a tough year. More than ever, we realized how much trekking, traveling, and exploring truly mean to us.

In 2020, we hiked roughly 500 miles and learned a great deal about our limits, capabilities, and love for being in nature. It was hard to choose, but here are our top 10 hiking experiences this year. Here’s to many more in 2021!

10. Liberty and Flume

We’ve hiked Liberty and Flume before, but this hike felt special because it was our first hike back in the Whites since March due to COVID restrictions.

Mount Liberty and Mount Flume

Hiking Mount Liberty and Mount Flume as an out and back via Liberty Spring Trail made for a great day in the White Mountains...

9. Midstate Trail and Leominster State Forest

It snowed on Halloween and the combination of yellow foliage and snow was just magical.

8. Saddleback and the Horn

This hike was almost completely above treeline and reminded us of one of our favorite hikes in the Whites, Franconia Ridge.

Saddleback and the Horn

A clear and windy day on Saddleback and the Horn in Maine for 54 and 55 of the New England 67 4,000 footers!...

7. Owl’s Head for Summits in Solidarity

It wasn’t the hike that was meaningful, but the reason. We participated in this initiative to raise awareness about racial justice issues in the United States, raise funds for racial justice organizations, and commit to taking action to end systemic racism.

Summits in Solidarity

On June 27, 2020, we participated in Summits in Solidarity, a peak-bagging initiative with three key calls to action: 1. raise awareness about racial justice issues...

6. Hedgehog Mountain

This was a short hike with some of the best fall foliage we’ve ever seen!

Hedgehog Mountain

The fall foliage in New Hampshire has never been better than on our hike up Hedgehog Mountain...

5. Sugarloaf, Spaulding, and Abraham

Sugarloaf, Spaulding, and Abraham gave us everything we needed: 3 4,000 foot peaks, our first frost of the year, seemingly endless views, and beautiful undulating trails through the pine trees.

Sugarloaf, Spaulding, and Abraham

In frost, wind, and sun, we completed a ~13 mile traverse over three 4,000 footers in Maine: Sugarloaf, Spaulding, and Abraham....

4. Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe in Winter

This was our last winter hike of the season and our last hike before the COVID shutdown really began. It was also one of the most “extreme” hikes we have ever completed. The day was perfectly clear and the summits treated us to outrageous views.

3. Long Trail Section 1

Section hiking the Long Trail in Vermont saved us this summer. We desperately needed to get away from doomscrolling and stress of COVID. We also needed a way to get outside and go on a trip after cancelling other trips to Tour du Mont Blanc and Yosemite that we had planned months before. It took a ton of planning and COVID preparation to backpack the LT safely and conscientiously, but it was more than worth it. This southern section of the LT was not necessarily the most beautiful or challenging, but it was enlightening and will always hold a special place for us. We realized how much we truly love backpacking together, excitedly planned more backpacking trips (possibly thru-hikes) for our future, and spent one of the most beautiful evenings enjoying the sunset at Stratton Pond.

Long Trail Section 1

Section-hiked the first 70 miles of the Long Trail in Vermont from the Southern Terminus to Mad Tom Notch and can’t wait to complete the rest....

2. Long Trail Section 2

This was the toughest stretch of the Long Trail and boasted the most beautiful views. We also learned the vast depth of our capabilities. The days were scorching hot, the terrain was rocky and rooty and difficult, and our daily mileage was long – getting into the upper teens. However, we found an incredible stealth campsite, instilling confidence that we could take care of ourselves no matter what, and we loved the physical demands and scenery of Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield.

Long Trail Section 2

This northbound (NOBO) section from Appalachian Gap to Smuggler’s Notch, which included two NE 4,000 footers (Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield), was the most challenging and most rewarding part of the Long Trail...

1. Single Day Pemi Loop

Hiking a single day Pemi Loop may be one of our proudest accomplishments. One day, we were sitting on our porch talking about what we would hike next, and Kevin said, “I know we said it would be too crazy, but we could probably do a single day Pemi,” to which Kathy responded, “Let’s do it!” As hikers who are not trail runners, we never thought that hiking 32 miles, summiting 8 4,000 foot peaks, and climbing over 8,000 feet of elevation gain in a single day would be possible or enjoyable for us. Well, we were wrong! This was an absolutely glorious hike and one that we will never forget.

Single Day Pemi Loop

Hiking a single day Pemi Loop (31.5 mi, 9,000+ft of elevation gain) is a bucket list item for many hikers and trail runners....

We would love to hear from others – what were your favorite hikes of 2020?

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