2012 is winding down, and the world only has a few more days before it’s supposedly going to end. Since these are the end times (again, supposedly) I’ve been looking back on the past year. A friend posted on Facebook back in November that he had planned on hiking 1,000 miles in 12 months; a whole month short of his end date, he had reached his goal and was now planning on seeing just how many more he could log. Well into his 60s, he never fails in making me feel fat and lazy which set me to thinking: just what have I done this year?
2012 for me was a less adventurous year; a year of change and busywork. In December of last year, my work load increased significantly and I started being on call 24x7 every other weekend which limited my free time. If you paid close attention to my articles, starting in October 2011 I started referring to Justine as “wife” instead of “girlfriend”. Instead of basing trips off my schedule alone, I had to fit it on another person’s calendar and that means that there are simply fewer opportunities for trips. But for Justine who’s never explored most of the places that North and South Carolina have to offer, the shorter and less adventurous trips for me were made better because I got to see it with someone who isn’t as jaded as I am.
The year certainly started off right with our trip to Cades Cove in January. Camping in the winter isn’t for the faint of heart, but staying in a KOA cabin with 2 heaters blasting away made the cold tolerable to say the least. Spending a few days roaming the Cove, taking picture of all of the deer, swimming in the semi-frozen creeks and checking out some of the old historical sites made our 4 days go way faster than intended. A few new places were scouted, like Morrow Mountain State Park along the Peedee river, but the rest of the winter months were spent watching Ken Burns “The National Parks” and dreaming of spring.
March meant that Spring Break had arrived! But it was cold and rainy in the mountains, and we wanted a change of scenery. We instead went to the beach, spending a few days at Huntington Beach State Park, Hampton Plantation State Park, and James Island County Park as well as Charleston proper. We didn’t spend enough time at Huntington Beach and vowed to come back. Hampton Plantation was beautiful and extremely remote; we had a good time but swore we’d never come back without bug spray. In Charleston we walked a lot, we ate too much, and groaned the entire ride back home. Also, pro-tip: If for some reason your GPS takes you through Bennetsville SC, home to both a state AND federal prison, do not stop. Just keep driving and don’t pick up any hitchhikers.
The next few months were not as busy (I only have 6 vacation days a year so I didn’t want to burn them up too quickly), but I still managed to squeeze in a few fun trips. Wilson’s Creek was definitely a highlight of the year, because I still can’t figure out how I went so long without ever going there before. It’s worth it to just visit and never even leave the car, although I really suggest getting out and hiking the trails and walking along the river bank. It’s near enough to Linville Gorge where you have a ton of options for hiking and camping if you just wanted to setup a basecamp.
June found me in Virginia, staying at Blue Springs Gap cabin which is my favorite cabin on Earth (visited thus far).Most of the time was spent taking pictures, hiking, and playing rounds of “The Redneck Game of Life” which I found myself eerily good at. The biggest surprise of the entire trip was when I caught 5 trout on a fly rod which was an entirely new experience for me. To be open, I was at a trout farm but nobody else fishing that day was having luck so I’ll claim it was skill. The entire Shook clan turned out for this trip, and I realized just how quickly time is turning. My parents are within throwing distance of 50 and my grandparents are nearly 70; for the first time I can ever remember in my life, my dad was completely content to just sit on the porch of the cabin, talk, and sleep. No big hikes planned, no urgent need to do anything; just grateful for spending time with his family away from all distractions. Of course my dad working 70 hours a week this past year might have something to do with that too; it’s hard to tell.
The end of summer, fall, and now winter has found me shackled to a desk for the most parts working on a lot of projects for work that need to be completed. Other than a short 3 day weekend to Myrtle Beach where I did nothing but sleep, eat, and walk on the beach, I haven’t done anything more than get back into target shooting which has been a fun thing to do on a few weekends. I’ve been feeling tired, overworked, and burned out and I think the reason is if you work hard you need to play hard as well. If you only spend your free time resting to charge your batteries over the weekend for the next work week, you’ll never spend your energy doing something you actually want to do which makes you feel that much worse.
My friend’s goal of 1,000 miles isn’t so much a goal of a distance or to see anything in particular. It’s a goal to keep moving and not let any of the necessary things like a job or responsibilities stop you from getting out there and having fun. So as cheesy as a New Years resolution is, I’m resolving to hike the Art Loeb trail this spring, and possibly speed-hike the Foothills trail this summer. Here’s to a year of hitting the trail, getting on the water, and off of the couch. See you on the trail.
Amish in the sense that, at one point, my family helped others raise barns.
Now I build websites to help others build their businesses.