2022 had a lot of ups and downs for Jennifer and me. We celebrated new jobs and felt the uncertainty that comes with losing a job during an inflationary spiral. We purchased a house to help out a loved one, only to find out that the inspector missed A LOT. That cost us a lot of money and time (about 4 months of repairs). We both not only caught the flu and Covid but did so within a few weeks. Yet, even with these setbacks, we found time to explore new places and spend time with loved ones. We summited some of the highest mountains in the country and hiked across the grandest of all canyons. It was a year of really big highs and deep lows. In the end, we did our best and can say that 2022 was a great adventure. Here are the top 10 best memorable moments of 2022.
Top 10 Best Memorable Moments of 2022
- Hiking with Mountain Goats
- Sunset above Reflection Canyon
- Birding in Virginia
- Rainbow over Alta Lakes
- Backpacking with Experience
- A Grand Halloween
- Neck Deep in Desert Water
- Left in the Wilderness
- Driving Through a Flash Flood
- Laughing in the Mud
10) Hiking with Mountain Goats
Depending on who you ask, Colorado has anywhere from 53 to 58 mountains that rise above 14,000 feet. What is not in dispute is that the state has more 14ners than any other. Climbing these peaks is a popular pastime in Colorado. I have now climbed 22 of these massive mountains, 12 of them in 2022.
The most memorable experience from the 12 treks was when we came upon two mountain goats while climbing Mount Huron. Not only were the two fellow travelers unnervingly curious and approached us with little reservation, they decided to hike along with us. One lead the way up the summit and the other fell in behind us. They made the endeavor look almost effortless while Jennifer and I painstakingly crawled up the rocky terrain. It was easily one of the most unexpected and best memorable moments of 2022.
9) Sunset above Reflection Canyon
“You take me to some of the best places.” This was what Jennifer said to me rather unexpectedly as we watched the sun set over Reflection Canyon. I say “unexpectedly” because Jennifer doesn’t like deserts. Getting to Reflection Canyon requires hiking across more than 8 miles of nearly trackless and shadeless desert terrain. This place has two daytime temperatures—hot and scorching hot. Ironically it is known for the gorgeous view of Lake Powell. But there is no way to access it. So you must carry every last drop of water needed for a two-day adventure. In addition, it also requires a 50-mile bone-jarring drive on rough roads that pushed our truck to its limits.
When I was planning this journey, I was sure Jennifer would have serious contemplations. Most notably, why she allowed herself to be subjected to such endeavors. Yet, the view of Reflection Canyon is so stunning that we enjoyed one of the best sunsets, in one of the best places, and had one of the best memorable moments of 2022.
8) Birding in Virginia
My dad lives on a sailboat and in November we went to visit him in Virginia. During our visit (after we recovered from the flu) we decided to take the dinghy out and cruise the inlets to look for birds migrating down the eastern seaboard. We spotted mallards, great blue herons, hawks, geese, buffleheads, and even a few otters. However, the most memorable moment was when we slowly motored into a cove and spooked a bald eagle from its perch. It majestically flew directly over us and was followed by two more eagles emerging from the deep evergreen forest. These three eagles were chased by a small hawk ensuring they did not return to his neck of the woods. It was a fleeting but magical and unexpected moment.
7) Rainbow over Alta Lakes
Jennifer and I spent most of August exploring the San Juan Mountain Range in Colorado. In our exploration, we decided to spend a week boondocking and working (thanks to Starlink) along the remote shore of Alta Lakes near Telluride.
There are three lakes that make up the Alta Lakes. They all sit right at the treeline on the backside of the Telluride ski area. Getting there requires driving a 4.5-mile narrow, rough road that has few areas where oncoming traffic can pass. Almost immediately upon turning onto the road I started contemplating turning back. Our truck rolled through massive potholes and took up the entire width of the road that clung precariously to the side of a cliff. It was an unnerving and long 4.5-mile drive. As we finally rolled into the campground the skies opened. A deluge of rain fell on us as we struggled to back into the last open campsite.
Then as suddenly as the rain had come, it dispersed. The mountain scene revealed itself with the addition of a full rainbow. The entire campground quickly crawled out of their various tents and small campers and came to the edge of the lake. We were all standing slack-jawed at the gorgeous mountain scene, painted on the landscape. I commented to a fellow camper that while we had just arrived and intended to stay the week, we should probably just pack up now and head on down the road because it couldn’t get any better.
6) Backpacking with Experience
While exploring the San Juans this summer we spent 6 days backpacking through the Weminuche Wilderness. It’s the largest wilderness area in Colorado and one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states. At the end of our first day, we camped next to two older gentlemen, one in his late 60s and the other in his mid-70s. We had an enjoyable evening, chatting with them, and thought, “Wow, I hope I can still backpack these rugged mountain trails at their age.” It wasn’t until the next morning—as they outpaced us on the first climb of the day (1,200′ in less than 2 miles)—that we were left thinking, “I wish we could backpack like them now.”
To be fair, we were out for 6 days and felt sluggish under the excess weight. They were on a 4-day hike and were on their 3rd day out. Regardless, they were two very impressive individuals.
5) A Grand Halloween – Best Memorable Moments of 2022
Arguably our biggest adventure of the year was taking on the Rim to Rim trail in Grand Canyon National Park. For those unfamiliar, the trail leads down one side of the canyon and goes up the opposite side. Needless to say, it was an epic and amazing journey full of memorable experiences.
However, the most memorable one was finding two south loop runners dressed as a cookie and the Cookie Monster. It was Halloween and an extremely festive way to celebrate the holiday. I wore an orange shirt :). In addition to running in the cumbersome and likely hot outfits, the couple was generously handing out full-sized candy bars to fellow hikers. The Snickers bar we received was enjoyed immensely on the shore of the Colorado River, at the very bottom of the world’s largest canyon. Easily one of the best memorable moments of 2022.
4) Neck Deep in Desert Water
Jennifer has an overwhelming fear of water that she can not see the bottom of. My fear doesn’t reach the level of hers. But I’m not comfortable in water which has the ability to hide potential creatures or more likely foot snares. However, I really wanted to see Zebra Canyon while in the Escalante area of Utah. The problem is that the slot canyon is known for holding water. The reports were that it was up to your neck due to torrential rain the week before we arrived. I am not one easily deterred so I went for it. Jennifer barely even entertained the idea of joining me on the 5-mile hike before declining.
I passed three groups on the way to the slot canyon. Each stated that they had tried, but it was just too deep and turned back. One gentleman was about 6’6″ tall (I’m 6′ even) and he stated that he was hiking back to his car to look for a wet suit. He went in up to his neck and decided that reaching the zebra formation would require a swim.
I arrived at the mouth of the slot canyon and, after changing into my water shoes, waded into the murky water with no sign of another human in sight. The first pool only reached my waist before climbing onto a sandbar. In the second pool, I found myself on my tiptoes, neck deep in the muddy soup, gripping my camera bag tightly above my head. The entire time thinking, however far I go, I must return the way I came.
Just as my nerves were about to give, I found the terrain rising underneath me. I was back in waist-deep water. But the trial was not over. I would not only sink back to my neck before reaching the prize at the end but I would have to face water spiders scurrying around me. I struggle with bouts of arachnophobia so the fact that I pushed through dozens of the creatures was a point of pride, accomplishment, and one of the most memorable moments of 2022. Plus, the zebra formation is gorgeous and very memorable in its own right.
3) Left in the Wilderness
Jennifer and I are no strangers to hiking for days through remote wilderness. We have had several journeys that require shuttling to or from the end of a multi-day backpack. Places where you are always wondering, in the back of your head, if your ride will pick you up on the other end. In those instances, we’ve always arrived in relative civilization with a parking area that has other adventurous souls coming or going.
This year we had the uniquely surreal experience of starting a backpacking journey by taking a 3-hour train ride to a trailhead in the middle of the wilderness. We were dropped off, alone, and watched as the Durango-Silverton train pulled away. All semblance of civilization went with it. Ahead we had a 40-mile journey that would lead over three 12,000′ passes, returning back to the train at a different wilderness stop, followed by another three-hour ride back to civilization. As the train pulls away you are left wondering, what if something happens to the train? That is a memorable way to start such an epic journey.
2) Driving Through a Flash Flood
Jennifer and I have backpacked several long slot canyons (The Narrows and Buckskin Gulch being two of our favorites) and have always taken the warnings of flash floods seriously. However, this precaution is based on the warnings of others. This year we got to see firsthand how unbelievably fast these monsoon rains can roll in, drop unbelievable amounts of water, and then roll away. Thankfully we were on interstate 70 in Utah when it happened and the highway is designed to sit above the flood waters. The rain was so thick that all traffic quickly slowed to a crawl. Our windshield wipers beat frantically against the onslaught in a vain attempt to keep the glass clear.
The rain lasted only a few minutes but as it lifted we found ourselves driving along the shore of a shallow lake where a desert had been only moments before. It was truly astonishing how much water fell in a matter of only a few minutes. I can only imagine how terrifying it would be hiking a slot canyon when a wall of water came crashing through after such an event. I hope to never find out.
1) Laughing in the Mud
In Utah, there is a famous slot canyon known as Peek-A-Boo Gulch. It is a fun and challenging hike that requires hikers to scramble up and over sheer rock obstacles. Most are no more than 4 to 5 feet high but the very first one is a multi-level obstacle rising about 12 feet. This can be a bit challenging at the best of times. But when the slot canyon experiences a deluge of rain, the gulch becomes very muddy. As fellow hikers track the mud over the sheer stone cliffs it becomes a slippery mess. This was the state that we found upon reaching the canyon in early October.
Thankfully, we befriended a group of 8 out of Denver, Colorado that helped us make our way through the muddy maze. We did our best to reciprocate their kindness. If it had not been for them we would have failed in the endeavor. They were a good-hearted bunch and before we made it over the second obstacle we were telling jokes, literally slinging mud at one another as limbs caked in mud flailed about, and laughing uncontrollably. This is perhaps the quickest we have ever bonded with a group of people and we spent the rest of the journey having the time of our lives—the most memorable moment of 2022.
Best Memorable Moments of 2022 – Top 10
Thanks for reading our top 10 best memorable moments of 2022. I hope that you can look back on great memories of your own. Please share them below in the comment section. I look forward to 2023 and the unexpected and amazing moments that will come our way. Lord willing there will be many more.