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2014

One for the picture books.

Story by Whitney James December 23rd, 2014

STARTING IN SANTA FE

This year began with a bang. On the first of January, I found myself packing my truck to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had quit my all-benefits, cushy marketing job at a tech company in Colorado just a few weeks earlier. What for? Managing Outside Magazine’s 2014 Summer Buyer’s Guide. I’d spend the next three and a half months receiving boxes of gear, organizing said gear, and fact checking every page of the issue. I also climbed and mountain biked a lot, ate bowls beyond bowls of guacamole, and fell into my first cactus. I’d been applying for a position at Outside for five years, so you could say I was excited to join the team.
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TO GREAT HEIGHTS AND BEYOND

Finding new friends can be tough. Luckily, I made some while in Santa Fe that I think are keepers. They took me ice climbing in Ouray, to all the greatest crags in New Mexico, and have already been up to Colorado to visit. Thanks to their influence, when I arrived back in Boulder on my 25th birthday, I was inspired to spend it doing something of a vertical nature. I asked a local friend to take me up the multi-pitch, 1,000-foot First Flatiron, and only cried once.
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FROM A TO ZION

Before I had time to settle back into things in Boulder, I was invited to join a group of writers from Colorado to visit Utah. We spent five days canyoneering, powering around Lake Powell in a plush house boat, and hiking the national parks. We even swooped down to Arizona for a second to do yoga overlooking the edge of Horseshoe Bend. Check out the whole trip here.

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LET THE CAMPING BEGIN

As soon as the snow melted and I found myself with a free weekend, I was camping. Fruita, Moab, Aspen, Minturn, Eagle, and Crested Butte were the first trips of the line-up. Some weekends I went alone, and some trips were with friends. The photo below has to be my favorite of the year, and not just because REI featured it. What you can’t tell is that my butt is actually dragging on the grass, and I’m freezing. I mean absolutely, totally freezing.
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YEAR #12 AT THE FLYING U

In July, I went north. I’ve been heading to the Flying U Ranch in British Columbia for over half of my life, and this year was no exception. The only difference was that now living in Colorado, it’s much more expensive and difficult to travel to the middle of nowhere, Canada. But there are some things in life worth prioritizing, and spending this week with my best friend on horseback is one of them. We blazed trail, we square danced, we herded longhorn cattle, and we celebrated with 6-packs of Kokanee.

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BACK TO LAKE CHELAN

Another tradition of mine is to stay a week every summer at Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington. Luckily for me, my remote work schedule made it possible to squeeze in this late-summer adventure in August. The best part? Simply having the chance to spend quality time with my parents. We dined at a blueberry farm for breakfast, hopped on standup paddleboards during my lunch breaks, and kicked back at wineries.

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LATE SUMMER CAMPING to fall

Once I made it back to Colorado, I didn’t exactly stay in one place. My somehow insatiable desire to be outside took me to Aspen, Crested Butte, Shelf Road, Conundrum Hot Springs, Heart Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Curt Gowdy State Park. My friends bodies and my own are riddled with scars from a year full of adventure—mountain biking, fishing, climbing, and sipping whiskey on repeat. I’m already ready for three more months of fun.

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TROPICAL FINALE

In case you’ve somehow missed my barrage of photos on social media, the year ended with a week spent learning to surf in Nicaragua. The stories are still in the making, and I’ll be spending the next few weeks re-living this trip to paradise. If tales about agro jellyfish and remote beaches sound interesting, stay tuned.

This year was a lesson in being flexible, accepting change, and embracing new experiences. I don’t expect 2015 to be more action-packed than the last, but I’m sure no matter how I try to shape it, it will be full of complex challenges and wonderful surprises just the same. ¡Salud!

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