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Happy 5th Birthday to Wandering Pine! 

F I V E . Y E A R S 🎉

Break out the party tooters and root beer, it’s time to celebrate! Thanks for being here, from Wandering Pine’s very first post to the 190th post!

‘Tis is the season that I find myself reflecting on the year, recalibrating, tidying up, rearranging things and setting new intentions. Winter is also great time to stick your nose in a map or a book and dream up a new adventure. I enjoy this time of looking back and recapping the highlights of each year and taking time to give thanks. 

After 5 years of content creation (189 posts and 15 pages), this space was starting to feel like a bursting closet that needed some clearing and reorganizing. Updates over the last month include a brand new home page, newsletter sign up, events & classes page, a shop page featuring my watercolor art prints, two new Art Supply brands on our Affiliate Brand Partner Page and some general tidying up. We’re still designing and decluttering a few more spots, so, take those navigation buttons at the top for a spin and let us know what you think!

You’ll still see trip reports, outdoor skills, gear reviews, and the information that you have come to depend on over the years from Wandering Pine. New in 2022, we’re expanding to offer new curated art and adventure content and events designed to ignite your imagination and equip you for new adventures! Thank you for all of your support along the way, it means so much!

Ok, do you have your root beer and party tooter? Lets go! 🎉🎉🎉

2021 Fun Facts!

Annual Blog Stats:

  • Number of posts:  25
  • Number of visitors:  44,629
  • Number of views:  28,176
  • Total words: 42,772
  • Average words per post: 1,711
  • All time views (2017-2021): 138,079

Top 5 blog posts:

  1. Rock Harbor to Windigo | Backpacking Isle Royale End to End: 4,421 views
  2. Wheal n’ Flare! My Dance with Hikers Rash: 3,285 views
  3. Making Your Own Ultralight Backpack: 2,590 views
  4. Stillwater Stair Challenge: 1,831 views
  5. Backcountry Hygiene: How to Pee, Poop and Period like a Pro: 1,811 views

Looking Back

January

The year started out with a solo cross country ski day instead of our traditional First Day Group Hike due to lingering Covid restrictions. I started my own “First Day Hike” tradition 5 years ago. Even in the freezing cold, it’s a great way to kick off the New Year! The dates are locked in for our Isle Royale Trip and we bought Sea Plane tickets! I also bought a small watercolor kit and started painting again.  I have almost 30 years of Art and Design professional experience, and it felt great to start the year with a fresh new medium and dreams of painting on the trail!

February

February brought 50+ hour work weeks and a LOT of screen time.  I gave myself the challenge of painting one postcard every night that I would mail right away, to give my brain a rest and also reignite my art making skills.  It ended up being a great way to develop a daily art practice and the postcard recipients got a little happiness in their mailbox.  February also kicked off my 3rd year as a Granite Gear Groundskeeper, a great program and group of humans on a mission to build a culture of stewardship and care for our outdoor spaces by picking up trash and inviting everyone to leave it better!

March

In March, I had the honor of watching the historic completion of Emily Ford’s thru hike of the Ice Age Trail in the Winter!  I also painted a happy little yellow tent and entered it into a Kula Cloth Art contest, which would later be printed and offered as a limited collection print! 

April

We’re in full swing for Isle Royale Trip plans.  I’m organizing gear, testing out a 60L backpack instead of my standard 38L since we’ll have a couple more days of food with us and colder temps.  My newest piece of gear is my brand new field art kit.  I decided to make my own so I could adjust my palette and have a lightweight kit for our adventure.  We had a couple of chilly camping trips to the North Shore and took some time to clean up near Lake Superior as a big group with the Groundskeepers, removing hundreds of pounds of trash! I was also in my first art show in almost 15 years!

May

  • No posts, too busy prepping and training!

In May we bought a camper!   I have been obsessed with finding the right camper for my husband and I for about two years, and the right one came along!   Its got more bells and whistles than we originally planned for, but it’s going to be a ton of fun- heated mattress anyone?   I led my first Art Hike for our Women Who Hike MN crew and can’t wait to do more of these!  And the day finally came, when the 4 of us hopped on the tiny seaplane for our 5 day Isle Royale adventure!  We had an amazing time! I painted everyday and soaked in the beauty of the Isle. This was my second backpacking trip to this National Park and I dream of going back for a 3rd time!  

June

June was spent catching up on trip reports and videos, while recovering from an MCL injury that occurred on our Isle Royale Trip.  Im thankful that I was able to hike out on it, but it kind of put a squash on summer hiking.  I spent this time putting in my garden and doing lots of physical therapy.  Our youngest son got his driver’s license and our oldest graduated from High School!  We were able to take the camper out on its maiden voyage and even brought along the pup.  Here’s to more adventures!

July

July brought enough garden produce to eat, share and start preserving via canning and dehydrating for future backpacking meals! I feel like I was barely home this month.  A long weekend trip to the Gunflint Trail and one 10 day family road trip out west!  Spending time together as a family and getting to visit my Grandparents in Idaho was the highlight of the year.  I painted everyday in the car and outside visiting several National Parks along the way, what a gift! 

August

The garden is exploding with produce, I think I had about 100 lbs of tomatoes come out of my little garden this year. Spent the month catching up on trip reports and another trip to the Gunflint Trail.  I was able to stay with friends in a remote little cabin at the entry to the boundary waters and take my first paddling trip into the BWCA.  I painted everyday and vowed to come back!  My Kekakabic and Border Route backpacking trips were cancelled due to my knee injury, but I stopped by the trail head and made the hike to magnetic rock – maybe I’ll be back in 2022!  I re-certified my Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid (every two years since 2013).

September

September had two more trips in the camper- touring Northern and Southern Minnesota, bringing me closer my goal of hiking all of Minnesota State Parks.  Sadly, Wildfires continue to burn in the BWCA and Arrowhead region of Minnesota.  I led another art hike sponsored by Kula Cloth and the Kula Academy and can’t wait to lead more events like this in the the future – stay tuned!  I’m still painting almost everyday and created a new Wandering Pine art instagram account.

October

October brought more hiking and a 24 hour trip to New York, illustrated is a very very tiny book . We took one last camping trip in the camper as a family, and I hiked my first 10 miler since my knee injury.  Lake Superior and the Superior Hiking Trail are our favorites and it always feels like home. I’m still painting almost everyday and decided to create a few prints that are now available in my shop. Although I have a background in art and design, setting these paintings up for print production and getting them printed felt like a huge milestone!

November

In November, I dove in and created an online art shop, learning many new skills that I never thought I would be able to figure out.  Im also sharing time-lapse videos of my daily paintings on instagram.  It’s so fun to be able to share my work in this way.  I also taught two backpacking skills classes and co-led a women’s specific outdoor skills class at St Paul College, so fun! On the day after Thanksgiving, I led a group hike with the Women Who Hike Crew to William O’Brien State park. A few of us stayed and practiced our winter camping skills overnight. It was fun to dust off the cold weather gear and figure out some strategies for watercolor painting without freezing my fingers of brushes off. 

December

In December I was in in a Artist’s Market and painted a few watercolor commissions. I also taught my first virtual art class through the Kula Academy. It was a blast and I’m looking forward to offering more classes like this in the future! I re-arranged my studio space to get some natural light and I’m grateful to be able to share my art and teach again!  December brought two more group hikes with Women Who Hike – An Ugly Sweater Hike and a Winter Solstice Night Hike!  The last two weeks of the year have been spent with family, relaxing, and painting birds (you can see them all @wandering.pine.art)!  I’m excited to see where the new year takes us, let’s go! Also noteworthy, the amazing cover photo to this post was taken by Andrea Linnea and was featured in December on Backpacker Magazine IG !

Photo: Jessica Page

Looking Forward

2021 was another year of adjusting and re-orienting my compass. I’m getting better about saying the word “no”, so I can say “yes”. Shifting gears to sketch and paint on and off the trail has been good for my mind and allows me to engage in the ‘here and now’ in a deeper way instead of just focusing on what’s next. I believe everyone has an inner artist, so, in case you need to hear this: you are absolutely qualified to sketch, draw and write whatever you like. You have it in you, don’t wait!

Thank you again for another year together. What are you looking forward to in 2022? Are you looking to head out on a big trip? Build your outdoor skills and spend more time outside? We’d love to hear about your goals and aspirations and help you along the way! Whatever you’re up to, drop us a note and say “hi!”. Hearing from you is always encouraging and really keeps things going around here.

Here’s to a blessed New Year full of hope and exciting new adventures!

Happy New Year!

~Jen

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