In 2010 I'm also going to hike across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Of course, I could be super hard-core and do the 70-mile-plus High Sierra Trail, which runs from Sequoia National Park all the way to Mt. Whitney. It's a beautiful route, but I want to wait until I'm strong enough to summit Mt. Whitney, too. This year, I'm going to cheat and scoot across the Sierras at one of the range's narrowest points. From Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park, I'll hike up the Bubbs Creek Trail to Junction Meadow, then head east over Kearsarge Pass down to Onion Valley, outside the small town of Independence. It's less than 20 miles that way.
I've also got some unfinished adventures from the past decade that I'm moving to the front burner for the '10s:
- Mauna Kea, the Big Island of Hawaii -- I came so close to summiting on foot in 2002, but ran out of daylight and couldn't safely finish. I've driven up near the summit since then, but the footpath, which runs by a permafrost lake and an ancient Hawaiian adze quarry, is like walking atop clouds.
- Mauna Loa, the Big Island of Hawaii -- I mean, how can you summit one of the Big Island's big ol' beautiful volcanoes and not the other? But I still haven't solved the pesky problem of car break-ins at the trailhead. Ideas, anyone?
- Rainbow Bridge, Navajo Nation -- Yes, you can take a boat there. But it's a lot cooler to hike there by going around sacred Navajo Mountain. We tried before, but flash flooding stopped us in 2007. Get permits from Navajo Parks & Recreation.
- Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia -- When I tried to hike the circuit in 2006, I had a backcountry emergency that was almost fatal. Now, I'm determined to get back there and show those mountains that they can't keep me down.
- Everest Base Camp, Nepal -- My trekking partner had an emergency evacuation by helicopter from near Namche Bazaar (totally his fault, due to some mind-altering substances I hadn't known were in his pack), so I never got here back in 1999. Grrr.
Photo: Summit of Half Dome, August 2009 (Michael Connolly, Jr.)