I was going to start this post in a completely different way. I wanted to share 16 of my favorite photos from 2016. As I was sorting through 23,613 photos I found myself reminiscing about the stories behind each and every photo. I vividly remembered what I was thinking as I took each photo, how cold or hot it was, what I was feeling (this year taught me I have feelings and that it’s ok to have feelings), how many people were around, what got me there, what I did after, and so much more.
Eventually I found a way to narrow 23,613 photos down to 32. And somehow I cut that number in half. Below are 16 story filled photos from 2016 that hold some of my favorite stories; in sequential order.
January 19, 2016
Rumbling Bald, NC
This year would have never happened if it wasn’t for this girl. Katie is the one that planted the idea of a yearlong road trip in my girlfriend’s head 4 years ago. Long story short, that girl dumped me and I roped my brother into this incredible yearlong road trip we took together. At this point in the year Adam and I were wondering how we’d get through the rest of the year (terrifying, I know). She talked some sense into us, gave us an idea of what we were in for, and calmed our worrisome souls.
April 13, 2016
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
We had just rolled into Nevada from California. Adam wanted to see Las Vegas for the first time. Having been before, I wanted nothing to do with Las Vegas. The day was fading and we wanted to do something interesting. A park ranger told us about this trail that’d lead us to a viewpoint overlooking the Vegas Strip. I didn’t think the view would be worth it after an hour of hiking. Adam went ahead and a few minutes later I heard him calling my name. Telling me I had to see this.
April 26, 2016
Horseshoe Bend is famous. And that’s an understatement. The parking lot was littered with tourists, like myself. Walking through the sand dunes I saw the entire rim of the canyon covered with tripods and people standing next to them. Everyone was there wanting to get the same exact picture. In pictures this place looks so peaceful, like no one’s around. I guarantee you that in every single photo you see there are at least 100 other people around. This made me question social media’s impact on the environment for the first time.
May 19, 2016
Yosemite National Park
This was my last morning in Yosemite National Park. Adam and I woke up early to take photos of each other skating this stretch of road. As I was taking photos of him I saw an all too familiar grey van drive past. That van belongs to Travis Burke. He’s an incredible lensman (another understatement) and someone I truly look up to and admire. Surprisingly I didn’t fanboy over him when he stood next to me to snap some pictures of Adam skating as well.
May 27, 2016
Circa 2012 I changed the background on my desktop computer in my cubicle to a beautiful sandstone formation carved by wind and sand over thousands of years. A coworker of mine walked past and asked where it was I went to get that photo. I had no idea where in the world this place existed. I told her it was a background that came with Windows 7 and that I’d be more than happy to change her desktop background to that photo if she wanted. Hundreds of people play the lottery to get 1 of 10 coveted permits to see The Wave. On our second day, Adam and I won the lottery.
June 20, 2016
I have no idea how, but Shoshone Falls is bigger than Niagara Falls. We got hooked up with kayak rentals for the day and paddled our way up the Snake River to the base of the falls. As we got closer the waves got big. I thought I was going to capsize the waves got so rough. Look close, Adam’s in a kayak at the base of the falls. This was by far the best summer solstice I’ve ever had.
August 2, 2o16
Kenai Fjords National Park
Alaska’s the Last Frontier and to my surprise; there was a butt load of people there! A few days prior I went to the base of Exit Glacier with scores of other tourists. I looked at the glacier and wished I could explore. By some miracle I found myself attaching crampons to my feet for the first time in my life, traversing a moving sheet of ice, and learning about this entire valley and glacier. Pro tip: the faster you hike up to the glacier, the more of the glacier your guide gets to show you.
September 7, 2016
Grand Teton National Park
I was imagining how many double taps I’d get on Instagram as I was taking this photo.
October 22, 2016
Red River Gorge
Sorry mom! That’s become my favorite phrase to say. When I say that I know I’m living, really, living my life to the fullest. Although I may freak out my mom as I’m dangling in the air taking photos of my friends climbing, she knows it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And I think she’s grown to love it when I say sorry mom!
November 6, 2016
Doors off of a helicopter makes it really cold. For some reason my left nostril begins to drip snot profusely when I get cold. It’s not in the frame, thankfully, but there’s a huge strand of snot flying out of my nose as I blindly stuck my camera out the side of the helicopter to snap this photo. This was also the first time I’ve ever flown in a helicopter. Do I know any helicopter pilots out there that want to take me for a joy ride sometime?
November 15, 2016
You know how there’s that one band that seems to speak to you? That no matter what you’re going through they seem to always have a song for that. Yellowcard is that band for me. They’re on their farewell tour. This might have been the last time I ever saw them live. My voice was virtually gone after this show.
November 23, 2016
Acadia National Park
4:30pm and the sun began to set in Acadia National Park. Adam, Tanner, and I pulled off the road to watch the sun dip below the horizon. What happened next I’ve seen happen a couple of times. The clouds got into position, readying themselves for the light of the setting sun to hit them and set them on fire. My fingers started going numb and my left nostril started dripping snot. It was so cold. We piled back into the van and blasted the heater as the sky turned dark.
November 27, 2016
There’s no right or wrong way to throw a bachelor party. My friend Tanner (the guy grinning at the camera) joined us for 10 days on the road and called it his bachelor party. Usually beer’s involved so we hiked to the top of a mountain in Vermont and had a summit beer.
December 8, 2016
Upstate New York
All I could think about was how stoked I was to be experiencing lake effect snow. Being raised in Florida it’s something I only ever heard about on the news. For the first time I finally understood lake effect snow and how it can just dump ungodly amounts of fluffy white snow in a matter of minutes.
December 11, 2016
20 degrees is a little cold to go climbing. But when’s the next time I’ll ever get to climb a chimney that was built to be climbed? The lesson I learned here is to just do it no matter how uncomfortable it is. It’ll always be worth it in the end. I climbed a chimney!
December 11, 2016
50 states, 1 US Territory, District of Columbia, and 3 Canadian Provinces in one year. Holy balls that actually happened. And we’re still friends. No matter what happens next no one can ever take this experience from us. Would you be able to travel for an entire year with your sibling(s) and still be friends in the end?
As I was driving across the country in 2016 one phrase kept popping into my head. Just Do It. We’re told that we can’t more often than we can. It’s only until you go out on a limb that you realize what you’re capable of accomplishing. I was told I can’t take a year to visit all 50 states with my brother. Whoever told me that was right. To their dismay I did more than that because I can.
Whatever it is Just Do It.