2017 – did that just happen?

Will we wake up on New Year’s day and realize that the crazy, chaotic, disaster-riddled mess of 2017 was all just a fever dream? I’ve definitely had my share of fever as I close out 2017 with a solid case of the flu, so maybe I’d better jot down some of what I remember before it fades away…

Our closest brush with disaster was early in the year, when the atmospheric river that buried the Sierra Nevada in snow also nearly overflowed the banks of the usually docile Truckee river that flowed by our apartment.

Luckily the water levels stayed below the major flood mark of 13 feet at 12 feet 3 inches, and the mountain snow provided a welcome distraction.

Gabe on Incline peak

By late January I was getting anxious about my work situation, when along came a job offer from another small Reno software and hardware company called Synap. I knew the owner, Darryl Rubarth, from multiple tech meetups at the Reno Collective, and we quickly established a great working relationship.

The precipitation never let up. Residents along California’s Feather River were evacuated when Oroville dam showed signs of failure, while Aaron and I made use of the abundant snow above.

2017.02.18 Echo Lake Sno-Park camp & snow weekend w. Aaron & Dylan 5

Aaron shreds the gnar

Floods continued to hit California and Nevada throughout the spring. Not entirely obsessed with snow, we visited Ann’s family in Forestville and ogled the Pacific ocean, and also made a climbing and running trip to Bishop with Gabe.

Calla lillies

Running up Rock Creek

Over the long Memorial day weekend I made a 3-day ski backpack tour, a first for me.

Descent below Horse creek peak

Spiller creek campsite

Selfie at Whorl high point

All the winter and spring rain created plenty of fuel for fire. Ann and I went looking for lakes for her to swim in, and often found wildfire nearby.

Ann at Boca in Synergy wetsuit

Hunter Creek Fire

We were fortunate that our week camping in July with Ann’s family at Cascade lake in Idaho was mostly smoke free despite fires to the east and west. I enjoyed coaching our nephew Nathaniel through his first marathon-length trail run. On our drive home we passed a complex of more than 40 lightning-sparked wildfires in Modoc national forest.

Nathaniel on Lone Tree peak

Last year Ann and I recommitted to living in Reno, and in August we reaffirmed that decision by purchasing our first home, a cozy condo a mile up the river from our apartment. While hurricane Harvey was busy destroying homes in Houston, we were moving into ours.

Ann moving in

A month later hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the Caribbean, and a massive 7.1 earthquake rocked Mexico city. We were escaping on weekends into the Sierras and central Nevadan Toiyabe range.

Mount Baldwin from Mildred lake

Me on Arc Dome

October brought the Tubbs fire that destroyed at least 5,200 homes and structures in Santa Rosa, California. The desert was calling us, and we explored the East Walker river and Soldier Meadows north of Black Rock desert.

East Walker river spring

Ann at Hot Creek

The fire season still wasn’t finished, and early December saw fires near Los Angeles that burned for days and destroyed at least 300 homes and buildings. We were in San Francisco to see Mike Doughty perform, and bump around the town a bit.

Us at Southeast golden gate

John at Northwest Golden Gate

Finally I wrapped up the year with a visit to my Dad and Sarah in Denver for Christmas, coming home with the flu to end the year. Could be worse! I’m grateful for our good fortune this tumultuous year, and wish the same or better for you.

Numbers and Notes

Hours Tracked (by GPS): 326.48000000000025

Hours Tracked

Outdoor Nights: 48.5|3


Miles on Foot: 938.5899999999995


Elevation Gain on Foot (ft): 206202


Rock Climbing Elevation Gain (ft): 740


Ski Tours: 29


Books Read: 17

Books Read

This statistical madness has now been going on long enough to compare a few years:

Hours Tracked off_grid_nights,outdoor_nights miles_hiked feet_elevation_gain climbed_feet ski_tour miles_biked Bike Elevation Gain (ft) Books Read

…and 360 or so articles read on Pocket, almost one a day.

2016 review: disappointments exist, life is still good

Here’s the short summary of 2016 for me: many of the new things I hoped for did not pan out, yet I managed to hang on to the basic things that make for a quality life. An amazing life, in fact, when put in perspective. The perspective part is important.

I don’t want to fall into the the trap of becoming angry or dissatisfied about the few parts of my life that are not amazing, yet that trap seemed to be the media theme of 2016. It wasn’t just the election, though that was indeed a jarring example. Marketing in general is gaining the capability of zeroing in right on the thing that makes us unhappy, so it can promise a fix that will actually just deliver more marketing. This seems to me like a major ingredient in the unrest being felt here in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere. Now before you stop reading, this post really is about my year, that’s the extent of my rant.

I will suggest a way to counter dissatisfaction, though, and apply it to my year. When confronted with disappointing results, perform a Maslow check. This is a simple evaluation of your situation in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Here’s how it looks for me.

Physiological needs

Air, water, food: check. Not just any food either, but largely locally grown organic food. I’m still a vegan, with the exception of local happy eggs. My diet is easy for me and I consider it a contribution toward a better future. I think it’s very possible that I eat better than the vast majority of humans who ever existed.

2016.05.26 Ed and Dylan divide the CSA spoils at the RC

Clothing, shelter: check. Our small riverside apartment is full of such wonderful things, hot and cold running water, refrigerator, furnace, dishwasher. Electricity! The rare power outage reminded us how we depend on electricity. We’re comfortable almost all the time. The laundry situation could be better, to keep things honest.

2016.03.21 Power Outage Reno 1

Safety needs

Physical security: check. I continue feel most physically vulnerable in vehicles, with close calls on the road (one on I-25 north of Denver comes to mind) being the only physical threats I recall.

Economic security: half check. Things worked out okay, but uncertainty is high, causing some anxiety. I recognize this is largely by choice, though, and I could easily pursue more reliable income.

Health and well-being: check. I’m reveling in very good health and physical fitness. I discovered I have bone spurs in my feet, which cut short my July backpacking trip. I’ve recovered and believe I can prevent a recurrence. (Ann didn’t have it so easy. I’m mostly speaking for myself here.)

2016.04.02 Lassen, CA 5

General risk exposure: half check. Health insurance was a challenge and looks like it will continue to be.

Love and Belonging

Friendship: check. As a natural wanderer I struggle sometimes to feel part of a community, but friends always appear regardless. We even enticed a friend to move to Reno this year, though he struggled to find work here and plans to move to Sacramento.

2016.08.05 Sand Harbor evening w Aspen & Ava 4

Intimacy: check. Marriage is good to me, one of my greatest fortunes.

2016.08.16 Lake Tahoe Music Festival Sunset Serenade (Haydn program) @ Sugar Pine Point State Park 2

Family: half check. I considered moving to be closer to my dad in Colorado, but ultimately decided against it. Instead I made a two week visit to each of my parents, and hope to make a practice of that.


Here we get into the more subjective end of the pyramid, but I give myself a check here.

Working in the software world has given me a core belief that helps keep my esteem up: good quality software may not be widely discovered and adopted. I feel certain that my skills are growing and improving even if my software products are not yet making bundles for me.

Oddly I suffer more self-esteem issues in my recreational life. My experiences on public lands are crucial to my well-being, but my contributions to protect those resources are minimal. I will mention that I contributed some bug fixes to iNaturalist this year, which I feel indirectly promotes a much-needed respect for nature.


Have I achieved my potential? I’m not sure I’ve reached this level of distinction. For now I hope my self-esteem is based on realized potential. I’ll consider it an achievement to face problems at this level.

Still feel disappointed?

I don’t know about you, but the Maslow check emphasizes my incredible good fortune to me. The disappointments are mostly about things that don’t matter that much, and could easily change. It’s been a year to feel good about. This allows me to honestly say to you all, happy new year!

Numbers and Notes

Hours Tracked (by GPS): 350.6199999999999

Hours Tracked

Outdoor Nights: 73|3


Miles on Foot: 1184.3999999999994


Elevation Gain on Foot (ft): 196615


Rock Climbing Elevation Gain (ft): 4155


Books Read: 13

Books Read

This statistical madness has now been going on long enough to compare a few years:

Hours Tracked off_grid_nights,outdoor_nights miles_hiked feet_elevation_gain climbed_feet miles_biked Bike Elevation Gain (ft) Books Read