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Happy 3rd Birthday to Wandering Pine!   Its fun to see how things have changed and to look back on the adventures from the previous years.  Here’s a throwback to my very first post!   This year, I’ve hiked twice as much (104 hikes) and written half as much (30 posts).  The Saturday mornings that I used to spend writing have been spent on the trail instead and I’m ok with that.   I had grand plans of setting some goals and intentions for this blog over Christmas break, but instead I spent my time resting, hanging out with family and friends and finally getting around to editing those Superior Hiking Trail YouTube videos.

Thank you for helping to make this an amazing year!   It had some real challenges, but ended up being a great one!

Wandering Pine Blog 2019 Fun Facts!

Number of posts:  30

Number of visitors:  34,837

Number one search term:  Stillwater Stairs

Best views ever:  July 14, 2019 (5.8k views that month!)

Top 5 posts of the year:

  1. Backcountry Hygiene- How to Pee Poop and Period Like a Pro
  2. Tick Prevention on the Trail
  3. Hitting the Half way Mark – Tettegouche to Two Harbors
  4. The Brown Map – 57 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail
  5. Superior Hiking Trail Part 1:  Thru Hike

Top 5 all time posts:

  1. Making Your Own Ultralight Backpack
  2. Wheal and Flare!   My Dance with Hikers Rash
  3. Backcountry Hygiene- How to Pee Poop and Period Like a Pro
  4. Stillwater Stair Challenge + Stillwater Bridge
  5. 10 Tips for Scoring at an REI Garage Sale!


The year started out with a hike, which is a tradition I started observing about 3 or 4 years ago.  The Women Who Hike Crew braved negative windchills with frozen smiles on their faces.   A Minneapolis Tourism magazine also featured my sister and I on their cover, doing what I love…snowshoeing!  It was so sweet watching my husband run all over the city to grab copies!  This month, I also found out that I was selected to be a Granite Gear Groundskeeper.  It was tough waiting for the snow to melt to start clean up efforts on the trail, but once it did, we got to work!


February was spent doing a lot of snowshoeing and even declaring it “Snowshoe Week” on my Instagram.  The Women Who Hike Crew Snowshoed at Mille Lacs Kathio State park and I got to test out and review the new Crescent Moon EVA snowshoes .  A couple of weeks later, Crescent Moon let us borrow a fleet of snowshoes for a weekend Thrive Outdoor Women’s retreat at Roam Basecamp in Hayward WI on the Birkibiner Ski Trail!  I did a little skiing again and tried Fat Tire Biking for the first time — can’t wait to do it again!  I posted about how to both survive and defend your joy during our harsh Minnesota winters and even froze my long johns in the front yard to show my friends in warmer climates how cold it was!


30.86 lbs of Trash

As the snow started to melt, we found our first bits of trash on the trail and I logged my first weigh in as a 2019 Groundskeeper.  I re-certified my Wilderness Remote First Aid Training (4th time!) and snuck away to Duluth for the weekend and set my feet on the Superior Hiking Trail for the first time since Fall.  I felt energized and ready to start training for the final 200 miles!


66.58 lbs of Trash

Weather in Minnesota this month can be pretty unpredictable, and our Women Who Hike Earth Day Clean up Hike at Maplewood State Park turned into a Snowshoe Cabin weekend!   We made up for it on “Do Good Friday” and cleaned up a local park as a group.  I did my first 10 miler of the year through thick mud at Afton State Park which would prove to be great training for our Brown Map Hike later in May.   I treated all of my hiking clothes with Tick Repellant and wrote a post about natural and chemical ways to prevent those little critters we all love to hate.


16.58 lbs of Trash

The month of May was spent testing gear, having a shakedown at Afton State Park and preparing for a series of Long Awesome Section Hikes on the Superior Hiking Trail.  In early May, I completed the Purple Map with the Blister Sisters and reached the half way mark of the 310 mile trail.   A week later I was back on the trail with Jessica aka “Prank” on the Brown Map, the muddiest trail we ever did see!  A ton happened in May and I consider it one of the months I grew the most this year!


12.22 lbs of Trash

I attended a clean up Hike on National Trails Day organized by Unlikely Hikers a few days after finishing the brown map and got to meet two other Groundskeepers.  Then I was back on the trail next weekend, hiking the Blue map with Pam – completing 50+ more miles of the SHT.   I had hiked over 150 miles over 10 days in the span of 3 weeks while balancing my job, family and everything else in life.   It was time for a family vacation!  We had a great time on the North Shore together and got to finish that last bit of trail from Lutsen to Lake Agnes and take a tour on an Isle Royale Seaplane!  I took a quick road trip to Missouri and stopped to visit my very first hiking buddy on the way, for hike #52 of my 52 Hike Challenge!


23.14 lbs of Trash

This month, I wrote a post about backcountry hygiene and how to pee poop and period like a pro!  I missed out on this year’s BWCA High Adventure Trek, but I enjoyed helping the Scouts dehydrate and assemble all of their meals for the trip.   One of these days I’ll get to go to the BWCA on a paddling trip!  I saved my pennies for over a year and got myself a new bike this summer!  Bike commuting is like meditation for me and I hope to go on a bikepacking trip in 2020!  Most of the month was spent hiking, biking, paddling and cleaning up everywhere I could.  I ended the month with my 8th year at Many Point Scout Camp.  Scout camp is one of my favorite places to be…and with our kids getting older, I try to assume each year will be my last and experience it to the fullest!


21.85 lbs of Trash

Started the month by joining about 100 community members, including 7 fellow groundskeepers on a Lake Superior Community clean up event at Park Point in Duluth.  We hauled over 96 lbs of trash off the beach!  I also tried to get my kids to join me on the SHT for a backpacking trip but we managed to pull a S24O (sub 24 hour overnight) adventure to Split Rock and I was happy with that!   The Women Who Hike Crew hit the trail again with a Yoga Hike at Glendalough State Park, there I took some time to recalibrate and try to let go of some personal things that had been weighing on my heart.   I’m so thankful for this community of women.


158.88 lbs of Trash

In September, I hit the Superior Hiking Trail again for my final leg, determined to finish the whole trail, the Teal Map!   I hiked with the best gals and felt like this was the best section both mentally and physically for me.   The Fall colors were just beginning to show and I ended at the Southern Terminus just a few days after leaving the trail one year earlier.  310 miles in 23 total days!  A week after finishing the trail, Ruth and I led a clean up hike with the Women Who Hike and the Groundskeepers for National Clean Up day – it was our biggest haul ever at Minnehaha Falls at 135.54 lbs!


27.18 lbs of Trash

In October, I camped with the Scouts, organized a Map and Compass Clinic for Women Who Hike with our buddy Hiking Dude and led another clean up hike at Minnehaha Falls with my co-workers.  A writer (and heck of a cool person) for Three Rivers Parks featured a story about me in their ‘People of the Parks’ section.  It was fun to be interviewed on a hike in my favorite park and such an honor to be featured!   I was also asked by Granite Gear to come back as a Legacy Groundskeeper on the GK2020 team.   I’m looking forward to joining 11 previous rockstar Grounds Keepers and working to leave our public lands better while helping mentor the 19 new Grounds Keepers!


25.86 lbs of Trash

In November, I wrote about what I had learned from picking up trash on the trail. Then I was featured on my first podcast called “The Hike”!   I was a little nervous but I think it turned out well.  It was an honor to be able to share my SHT LASH story and you can listen to it here.   Around that same time, a writer from the Star Tribune contacted me about doing a story about my trail clean up for the year (!)   We did a quick phone interview and the next thing you know, the story was printed on the front cover of the Outdoor section of the paper.   That was pretty cool.   I certainly didn’t expect to be recognized for cleaning up trash, but both the podcast and newspaper story tell a deeper story.  How we all can do BETTER when we work TOGETHER!

We had big plans for a collab OptOutside Clean up hike, but Mother nature had other plans, blasting us with a layer of snow and ice and an early winter.  Guess clean up season is postponed until the thaw…


Totals:  383.156 lbs of Trash | 104 hikes | 630 miles

The Groundskeepers team cleaned up over 5,000 lbs of trash this year.  In case you are wondering, my posted monthly trash totals include my individual collection and totals from any group clean up hikes that I organized.

The month began with our 2nd annual WWH Ugly Sweater Hike, a solstice night hike a few weeks later and ended with Hike 104 at Bdote at Fort Snelling State Park with my favorite hiking buddy again! I didn’t plan on doubling my 52 hike challenge when I started out this year, but when I reached 52 early… I kept on going. When I hit 74 hikes after finishing the Superior Hiking Trail in September, I wanted to see if I could double it!
  My hikes towards the end of the year increased in frequency, were often repeat trails and were sometimes shorter distances.   Many of them were spent alone and I just enjoyed my time outside.   This was one of my goals for myself last year and even though I completed the SHT and hiked more often, I felt my mindset change and I was able to be more present.

After a big year and finishing my goal of hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, I am occasionally asked:

“What’s next?”

I have a few trips up my sleeve for 2020 that I will share later, but am going to take some time this month to continue to reflect and set some intentions.

If you’ve made it this far in this post, THANKS for reading!   I’m so grateful for this little corner of the internet we get to share together.  Thanks for being a part of this amazing year. If you’re reading this, and feeling like the year was not so amazing, I wish you peace and hope—and good things to come your way in 2020!

Got any trips planned?   Goals and dreams for the new year?   I’d love to hear about them.  Feel free to share them here or head over to the Wandering Pine Facebook page to continue to the conversation.  And if you like what you are reading, you can show this lil’ page some birthday love by dropping a note in the comments, liking or sharing.

Happy Trails!



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8 thoughts on “2019 Year in Review!

  1. Congratulations on another amazing year Jen! So happy to have you as my friend and hiking buddy! Here’s to the year ahead!

  2. So much trash and adventure! I’m so lucky to have met you this year – you’ve taught me so much not just about nature but about life in general. I’m very blessed to call you a friend! Here’s to a new year full of more adventures and trash!!!

  3. I’ve enjoyed reading the adventures and useful tips on your blog (happy 3-year anniversary!), virtually hiking the SHT via your YouTube videos (I laughed out loud when you broke into song about the mud), and hiking with you and other WWH members on the winter solstice and first day hikes. Your joyous spirit and efforts to make the world a better (and cleaner) place are truly inspiring. Keep being exactly who you are, Jen. Your light is bright!

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