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On January 1st 2017, I started this blog, as a place to write about my outdoor adventures, learning experiences, failures and encourage others to get outside at any skill level.

That first year, I challenged myself to ask, before starting or continuing various activities, “Does this make me feel strong? Or will this build strength?” I did not ask, does this make me feel alive, scared, happy, pretty, safe, make other people happy or…will this be easy?

First Hike of the year! Jan 1 2018 French Park.  -13F/-29F windchill

Year two was another big year!  It started and ended with a Hike!  Backpacking skills were honed, a rash went viral, a thru hike was planned and the adventures of Wandering Pine kicked into high gear!   There was so much to remember and sift through in creating this post, but I think I’ve got the best of it captured here…so  kick back (for approximately 6.17 reading minutes) and check out the best of 2018!

(seriously, someone time this and tell me if my reading estimations are on point–thanks!)

Top 5 Blog posts

Here are the top read posts in 2018 on the Wandering Pine blog.   The posts about my dance with Hiker’s Rash and making my own Ultralight Backpack have been close for top spot this year.

  1. Wheal n’ Flare!   My Dance with Hiker’s Rash
  2. Making Your Own Ultralight Backpack!
  3. Snowshoe Basics:  And Re-thinking Winter
  4. Stillwater Stair Challenge + The Stillwater Bridge
  5. Lightweight Backpacking Tips :  5 ways I reduced my pack weight-including packing list

Top 9 Instagram


I’ve been more active on Instagram this year but am still blown away by how many people follow along on the adventures of Wandering Pine.   It was fun being featured  various places a couple of times and having week long themes on Gear, Scouting and Snowshoeing!

5 minutes of fame…

2018 had a couple of media moments including:

290DE807-6274-4EF2-92D0-04CF06B36F71.JPGHikers Rash

This was by far my most read blog post in 2018, and the story originally written by the  Duluth News Tribune ‘Why Hikers rash happens and how to make it less likely’   It was syndicated to 21 news sources last we counted.  It was kind of fun being tracked down on the SHT by a newspaper photographer and later having friends and relatives in the upper Midwest write to tell me I showed up in their local paper!   I thought it was only going to be featured in Duluth.   I am glad that sharing my experience with exercise induced vasculitis has helped a few folks.  But, my sister will forever joke that when my descendants consult the great digital archive, this will be the thing that shows up under Great Great Grandma Wandering Pine.

My rash.  Yep.  Famous.

IMG_4875Boy Scouts of America ‘Scout Me In’ video and Instagram Feature

It all started with an Instagram message.  I thought it was fake.  “Hello!   I just stumbled upon your page  and absolutely love it!   More importantly, I think our Scouts and volunteers would love to see/hear more from you…”  So, after I realized it wasn’t fake, I said ‘heck yeah!’  From there, I met with the marketing team, became an Adventure Ambassador and they shared our 100 mile SHT thru hike on the official Boy Scouts of America Instagram page for a week!   Somewhere in between completing our big hike and the feature, they contacted me about coming to Minnesota to make a video about my journey from “Mom in the back of the room” to leading my own adventures.   The video was sent to every staff member and registered volunteer in the United States and people still keep emailing it to me!   I am honored to be able to share my story and thankful for the opportunities that the BSA has offered me and my family.   There are a lot of good changes happening in the organization, like admitting girls starting in February 2019, so be sure to check them out!

IMG_4997Minnesota Monthly Magazine Article- ‘Powder Power-Supercharge Your Winter Hikes on a Pair of Snowshoes’

Another message that I thought was fake at first.  A writer from the Magazine commented on the Snowshoeing on the St Croix post back in February requesting an interview, and next thing you know, I was guiding an Extreme Sports Photographer (think X Games and Red Bull Athletes) and Art Director out on the ice for their first time snowshoeing on a river I’d only been on once before!  My sister joined us, and we all survived!

The original interview occurred in March 2018, and I was interviewed again in September ON OUR WAY up to Grand Marais the night before our SHT Thru hike!   The phone kept cutting out and I really was focused on other things at the time, but the writer had a deadline for the December issue and managed to pull off a good story!   Super fun to be able to share about a sport that completely changed my outlook on Winter.   Thanks guys!

Also in  2018…


  • Our son earned his Eagle Scout Rank!   Yes! He made it by the hair of his chin and signed the paperwork at 9pm the night before his 18th birthday, but he did it and we are very proud of him (and I have the gray hair to prove it)
  • 100 Mile Thru Hike of the Superior Hiking Trail.   In case you missed it, you can read more about our grande adventure here.    Around 4,000 of you followed us on our journey and we’re thankful to have had the experience!   I’m already scheming how to complete the remaining 200 miles in 2019.
  • Making my Own Ultralight Backpack and getting my pack weight down to 25 lbs before our SHT Hike.   I don’t sew much anymore, so this was a huge project for me.   Making this critical piece of gear taught me a few things and gave me a sense of pride.   Reducing my pack weight and number of things I brought on our trip was also a discipline that worked its way into my non-backpacking life.   Step by step, I am simplifying, decluttering and getting rid of duplicates.

I would also like to thank the amazing outdoor organizations and companies that supported me this year!   I’m blown away by your partnership and generosity. Partnering with these folks basically means I get more opportunities to share my story with you, encourage people to get outside and occasionally test out some sweet gear!  They have been absolutely the best and I’m looking forward to working with them in 2019.


72/52 Hike Challenge

Drum roll please….here are my 72 hikes of the 2018 52 Hike Challenge. My two rules are that a hike should be at least 3 miles long and mostly on dirt (or ice/snow). To get in longer training distances, I stayed closer to home, had quite a few 6am starts and repeated parks prioritizing hiking distance over driving distance.   I still hiked in 4 states this year!   I’m looking at the 52 Hike Challenge Adventure Series next year to shake things up a bit, but am so thankful for this challenge and the way that it has created space for hiking and grown my outdoor experience!  If you are looking for a way to build the outdoors into your life and make some changes, this is such a great way to start!

  1. French Park -29 windchill
  2. 9 Mile Creek:  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
  3. St Croix River Snowshoe
  4. Theodore Wirth Park – Snowshoe
  5. Theodore Wirth Park – Snowshoe + Utepils
  6. Belle Isle: Richmond, VA
  7. Fred C. Anderson Scout Camp
  8. Theo Wirth Snowshoe/Loppet/Kite Fest
  9. Elm Creek Park Reserve Women Who Hike MN *First* Group Hike
  10. Theodore Wirth Park – Snowshoe + Utepils
  11. St Croix River Snowshoe-Minnesota Monthly Magazine Photoshoot
  12. French Park
  13. Elm Creek Park Reserve
  14. Baker Near Wilderness Settlement-WWH Snowshoe
  15. Stillwater Bridge
  16. Fort Snelling State Park-WWH Group Hike
  17. Chicago Urban Hike-River Walk
  18. Fort Snelling State Park/Minnehaha Falls
  19. Snowshoe in 19″ of April Snow!
  20. George Crosby Manitou State Park
  21. Fort Ripley National Guard Base
  22. Afton State Park
  23. French Park – Mother’s Day
  24. Whitewater State Park
  25. Carley State Park
  26. Stillwater Stairs/Bridge
  27. Afton State Park-SHT Shakedown
  28. Afton State Park-SHT Shakedown
  29. Richardson Nature Center
  30. Elm Creek
  31. Medicine Lake
  32. Elm Creek
  33. Lake Louise SP
  34. Forestville/Mystery Cave SP
  35. Elm Creek
  36. Moose Lake SP
  37. Crow Hassan Regional Park -WWH Group Hike
  38. Willow River SP
  39. Afton SP
  40. SHT-Lake Agnes
  41. SHT-Shakedown
  42. SHT-Shakedown
  43. Cemetery/Urban Green Space
  44. Fort Worth TX, Riverwalk
  45. Fort Worth TX, Riverwalk
  46. Fort Worth TX, Riverwalk
  47. Hike/Commute
  48. Cemetery/Urban Green Space
  49. Lake Rebecca
  50. Cemetery/Urban Green Space
  51. Cemetery/Urban Green Space
  52. SHT Thru Hike-originally planned on counting this as 52 but KEPT ON HIKING
  53. SHT Thru Hike
  54. SHT Thru Hike
  55. SHT Thru Hike
  56. SHT Thru Hike
  57. SHT Thru Hike
  58. Frontenac SP – WWH Group Hike
  59. Lake Carlos SP
  60. Glacial Lakes SP
  61. Lake Monson SP
  62. Tettegouche SP
  63. Split Rock SP
  64. Gooseberry Falls SP
  65. Theo Wirth – WWH Group Hike
  66. Elm Creek – WWH Group Hike
  67. Stearns Scout Camp- Orienteering
  68. Theo Wirth – WWH Ugly Christmas Sweater Group Hike
  69. Crosby Farm- WWH Group Hike
  70. Elm Creek Park Reserve Snowshoe
  71. Em Creek Park Reserve Snowshoe

If you’ve made it this far, well…hey, thanks.   This is a longer post than normal, and we’re almost to the end!

IMG_4216.JPGThe year ahead…

Ramble on…

One of the things I have been mulling around is being gentler to myself and just taking the time to enjoy being outside.  I’ve touched on this a little already, but I hope to create more opportunities to be mindful in nature aka Shin Rin Yoku aka Forest Bathing.  Slowing a bit to take mental or physical pictures when I see something cool, instead of breezing past things, and wishing I had stopped later.   I’m also really enjoying getting to hike with people aged anywhere from 11 to 70 (?) this year through Scouts, Women Who Hike and other hiking groups.  Hiking is for everyone!  I don’t see this as a physical slowing (but maybe?) but a mental shift and making space to ‘stop and smell the roses’.   I read Qing Li’s Shin Rin Yoku Book last Spring and highly recommend it!  I also quit tracking my miles recently, it feels good to just not have that be such a focus.   I’ll still post mileage in my trail reports if it’s relevant to trip planning.

Sitting with the Hard Things

I took a little social media break at the end of the year to pick at some things that I feel like I need to know more about.   It’s slow work, but I’m seeking out the history of the land I’m hiking on and learning about Minnesota’s History, its culture, and what we call “Minnesota Nice”.   I’m just finishing this book, A Good Time for the Truth about Race in Minnesota and it’s been eye opening.

Bring on the Gear, Bring on the Fun!

I have a few other cool things coming up in the year that I hope to announce next week and am planning my FIRST Instagram giveaway!   I’ll still have trail reports, but am looking to write a few more dedicated gear reviews like this one, to sharpen my writing skills and share the love about the gear that I think is cool.

I am so thankful for each and every one that has ambled along with us on the journey, and look forward to another great year outside!   `

Last Hike of the Year! Snowshoeing at Elm Creek Park Reserve 28F

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

Happy (NEW) Trails!



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13 thoughts on “2018 Year in Review!

  1. Love this year in review! What a growing year – what a journey! And I’d say your time estimate was spot on. I read it in a little over 6 min and I’m a fairly fast reader.

    1. Thanks Nancy! And seriously thank you for checking my reading time formula. Meeting you this year kind of deserves its own paragraph. Thanks for being so cool and always such an encouraging person. You totally rock and I can’t wait to hike with you tomorrow….be gentle with me.

      1. Haha! luckily I read faster than I hike! And I feel so famous – I made it in to a couple of your pics! I will never forget our stairs of Stillwater hike!

  2. Easy 6 minutes read. I’ll have to check out the book recommendations! I have been in the middle of Long Story, Short, a book that helps teach the skill of story telling, Moth Radio hour style, This American Life, etc.

  3. A wonderful read! I didn’t time it but who cares. Awesome photos as well. Truly inspirational! Despite the fact that this is all stuff that I don’t really do, you’re my hero!! Keep it up!

  4. I’m so happy to have found your blog, and you wrote such useful and inspiring posts last year! I’m really looking forward to what you do in 2019 🙂

    I recently joined Women Who Hike (MN) and would like to do the 52 Hike Challenge as well. Could you speak to how you discovered/chose your hiking trails? Cheers!

    1. Hi Kristin! Thanks for reading. 🙂 I hiked a lot of repeat trails this year due to needing earlier starts and longer hiking distances as part of my training (and avoiding hikers rash). I do love the State Parks and Three Rivers Parks locally. One way to get out there and try new parks is to join the Minnesota State Park Hiking Club. Have you heard of it? Its helped me broaden my locations and you get to earn fun patches and free nights of camping. The orange button on the top of the WP main page has a map with links to all of the trails I’ve hiked. Honestly, I just try to see as many new trails as I can, but balance the time commitment it takes to travel there. Being a member of WWH is an awesome resource too as our FB page has member organized meet up hikes that can expose you to new trails as well. Hope that helped. Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the info/experiences you share. I am planning a 50 mi hike on the SHT with my son this coming summer. …and a beginner with backpacking so it will be an adventure. Your insight and posts are both encouraging that we can do this and will also help us as we plan. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading, Jen! Excited for your adventure! Glad this is helpful, Im still learning a ton and will post here. If you haven’t joined Women Who Hike MN or SHT Wild Women yet, check out our FB page, lots of helpful planning tips there too!

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