2019 Reflections, 2020 Goals- 14 minute read
At the beginning of 2019 I wrote a list of goals that I wanted to get after in the year. Some were quite ambitious, some could have used more definition, and some I knocked out of the park. I’ll reflect on some of these and then end with some things I want to focus on for 2020.
The tl;dr of it all is that 2019 was a buck wild year, filled with adventure and excitement and a lot of stride. There’s enough in this one year to make my past self smile a big proud smile. I’m stoked about where all the directions in my life are pointed, and most of my future goals are pretty much “More of that!”
We started strong on our National Parks list
Grand Canyon National Park
Shan and I took a March trip out to Arizona and saw the beautiful blue waterfalls of Havasupai tribal lands.
I came away with some strong feelings of sublime and awe, and wrote about them in my trip report here.
Redwood National Park
For Fourth of July, we took a trip down to the coast of Northern California, where the Redwood trees reside. We climbed some boulders on the beach, explored the trees a bit, and I left wanting more. This is also where I first met up with my Portland adventure crew, which I write about later in this post!
Gateway Arch National Park
Kind of a funny addition, but we flew into St. Louis, Missouri this year to get to Arkansas for the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell competition, and we realized that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is actually a National Park! The designation is a little silly considering the nature of the landmark, but nonetheless, it’s a tick off the list!
Joshua Tree National Park
We topped off the year with a trip to the fabled JTree, where we met up with a host of our LA friends and witnessed some breathtaking scenery throughout the park. A foot of snow, a couple crazy hikes, and a bunch of climbing were the highlights of this trip. I can’t wait to do a more thorough trip report, but in the meantime, I have some photos of it on my Instagram here.
I pushed my climbing abilities
48 days outside; 316 pitches
In 2018, despite becoming absolutely enamored by the sport of climbing, I only managed to get outside just 14 days out of the year. When 2019 rolled around, I made it a goal to get outside at least three times as much as I did the year before. And I crushed that goal with 48 days spent outside climbing! I also managed to climb 316 pitches, more than doubling the 144 I climbed in 2018!
We learned how to multi-pitch
Shan and I did our first multi-pitch together, the incredible “Wherever I May Roam” line at Smith Rock. I did this route again later in the year, along with “Voyage of the Cowdog” and the spectacular line “Zion”. Then Chris and I topped off the year with Moosedog Tower at Joshua Tree. I’m sold on multi-pitching, and am already looking at the bigger, more involved ones in the country.
We started trad climbing
We finally got ourselves a trad rack! And then we bought a second one! Then I quickly found out that I need to dedicate some time to climbing trad in the 5.6-5.8 range and figure out proper crack climbing technique before attempting any trad routes above 5.8.
We climbed a vertical mile at 24HHH
One of our primary goals this year, we each managed to nail the exact 5,280 feet over our 126 routes at Hell, with zero minutes to spare. The best part was at T-minus 2 hours, where we went ham on in an area with four 60-foot routes, two of which were trad. I’d never climbed like such a madman before!
I raised my redpoint to 5.11-
Certainly one of my proudest achievements of the year. Somewhere between all those pitches and days out on different types of rock, I managed to raise my base climbing ability four grades, from 5.10a to 5.11a. My biggest indicator for my strength was a day in September at Smith Rock where I got the following sends, all in one day, dubbing it my “Triple Crown”:
- Barbecue the Pope, 5.10b, redpoint
- Llama Enlightenment, 5.11a, onsight
- Fred On Air, 5.10d, redpoint
We found a Portland adventure crew
Something I miss deeply about my early 20’s is having a close-knit crew of people that I could call up anytime to go do things with. I miss these Hooligans so much that I make it a point to drive 1,000 miles to go see them during the one time a year everyone is able to get back together again.
It looks like I’ll be closing out my 20’s in much the same way as I started them, with a close-knit group of people in my city that I can call up and go explore and adventure around with. Memories made this year like the summertime jaunt up the Oregon Coast and the forests and rivers and the city will always stick with me, and I’m quite grateful for those.
I picked up some art supplies
And with them, started dabbling in art again. I used to make it a point to set aside time for art everyday, but life got in the way and it sort of fell off for awhile.
This year I got pretty inspired by some of my fellow artist friends and I wound up opening my sketchbook again. It’s always been a meditative and calming practice for me, so I’m really happy I started making time for it again. I even got through my first Inktober, completing an ink drawing for every day in the month of October!
I’ve also been getting excited by the prospect of making strides in my ability to express the images I have in my head and of the world around me. With all of these adventures I’m getting myself into, I’d love for art to be another way of manifesting those experiences. I picked up The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, and am hoping to bring my sketchbook out to more outdoor spots in 2020.
I got wild at Electric Daisy Carnival
My crew of dudes from college got together in Vegas and went totally crazy at EDC this year. I honestly think I’m still hungover from this weekend in May. I’ll never forget the grand finale of fireworks exploding in sync to Armen van Buuren’s DJ set.
We put together a new soccer team
Luke called us up and said “Hey, we’re playing soccer, I registered us in an indoor league.” Shan called up a few people from here grad school cohort and lo and behold, we got a team together! We played every match of the season and totally crushed it. Well, our experience level versus some of the other teams was a little uneven, but we definitely saw a marked improvement in our team and everyone over the year!
I was originally apprehensive about playing soccer again. It’s always been a tough sport for me and hard on my body, and I’m admittedly afraid of injuring myself in such a way that will take me away from climbing.
But I’m really glad we did this. I owe a lot to soccer: my girlfriend and all of my best friends, to name a couple. It’s a sport that brings people together, and that held true for this group too. I love the people we got to know through this team and I can’t wait to play with them again in the Spring!
23 books of fantasy and fiction
This year I started on a journey of reading some of the more popular series of the fantasy world, beginning in the 90’s. I still have to digest and write about a bunch of the books I read, but I have the start of my thoughts on them here. I also got through a few books that weren’t fantasy, which I go into more detail about in my next post, Media Review - 2019.
I put some solid work into a side project
In 2018, I learned about the concept of Deep Work from author Cal Newport. In 2019 I put it to use, along with a slew of other concepts gleaned from two years of working in startups. The result was a working MVP of an idea that Chris and I had thought up in the beginning of the year.
The idea involved a way to facilitate finding and sharing interesting places in a city. I wrote it using some newer programming languages that I wanted to gain more experience with, Golang for the backend technology and Vue.js for the frontend. I spent about 50 hours total on the project over the course of about five weeks during the winter of 2019, and by the end I had a working example of the project hosted online and usable. We also shared it with others at a Full Stack meetup in Portland in order to get some more feedback.
I’ve since taken the app down to save some cash on server costs, and because I’d like to pivot the idea into something that I think will be a little more useful. I plan to write a more complete post-mortem on the original project, but I did gather a few valuable takeaways from the experience:
Do extensive product research before starting the project.
Naming is hard.
Ten hours a week towards a side project on top of a full-time job, exercise, and social life is tough to maintain.
For any kind of deep work, it’s important to eliminate as many obstacles to starting as possible.
It’s okay to suck.
Things to think about for 2020
Armed with some more realistic expectations for how I think my time and effort can be allocated this year, I think I have an idea for how I want this year to look:
Climbing and fitness
- My number one goal is to push my sport climbing redpoint to 5.11+. Some of the best single-pitch sport routes in the country of this grade are at the Red River Gorge, so I have until our trip there in March to get strong enough to be able to climb them.
- Start bagging the Cascade Volcano peaks. I have Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens in my sights this year!
- Climb another vertical mile at 24HHH. We have the method down pretty well by this point, so I’m not too concerned with this one. And being more comfortable with trad and higher grades should definitely help.
- Running - Last year I made it a goal to run 30 miles a month. I didn’t get anywhere close to that. In fact, running took a bit of a back burner as an activity last year as I only clocked in 60 miles over the whole year. This year I think I’m going to step it up a bit though, and I already have by knocking out 10 miles a week this year so far. I’m not sure how sustainable that will be, especially given some of the other time commitments I have in this list, but for now it coincides with my other goal of getting fit for our March trip to the Red.
I didn’t mention this in my 2019 reflection, but I did have a 2019 goal to improve my guitar skills. The problem with this goal is that it was ill-defined. So this year I’m making some more concrete guitar goals:
- Be able to cover four songs by heart
- Produce an EP with Chris and Shan
My mind has been running wild with ideas for things I’d like to draw and paint. Here are some various art series that I’d like to work through:
- Sea animals
- Plant friends
- Dog friends
- Endangered animals
- Inktober 2020!
I’m excited to get back to developing a side project. This year I’m going to focus on just one project, during the winter, and it will have a set of features aimed at making it easier to plan and organize outdoor adventures.
Personal Knowledge Base
At some point last year, I realized that I needed to start on this concept that I’ve seen dubbed a “Second Brain”. A place to collect, organize, and synthesize anything and everything I come across in my day-to-day perusing, reading, and learning. The ultimate goal being to help connect concepts from disparate sources and to help inform my future creative endeavors. And of course to help understand and navigate this wild little world.
I already have the tools in mind for this job, one of them is something I’ve already been doing for the last five years, my Bullet Journal. The others are a Notion.so space, and a Roam database. I pretty much have a good methodology for this down, and I think that could serve as a decent future blog post.
We already have a Spring trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky planned, and there will of course be another round of 24HHH in Arkansas this Autumn, but other than that I haven’t quite nailed down my travel plans yet.
I’m hoping to take advantage of my ability to work remotely and maybe hit up some other rad climbing spots like Squamish and perhaps Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming this summer.
I’d also like to get to a few more National Parks visits in this year! Hopefully, Crater Lake and Olympic.
That wraps up my thoughts on 2019/2020. Like last year, I encourage anyone reading this to employ some reflection and goal-setting into their own life. They both serve a great purpose, but also remember at the same time to not dwell too much on the past. Forgiveness and gratitude for your past self are just as important!
Anyway, feel free to reach out to me about anything in this post, be it climbing, traveling, coding, fantasy novels, your goals, anything, and here’s to the New Year and the New Decade!
I’ll end this post with a few more of my favorite photos and moments from 2019: