For all intents and purposes, 2013 was a shitty year. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, something else would go wrong. And, so the trend continued until the final months.

The year started out pretty good. Though we’ve been struggling financially since Erin lost her nursing job in 2011, by the fall of 2012, she had a job and had enrolled at the University of Idaho to finally earn a bachelor’s degree to get her into a new career field. ¬†With snowshoes and a new (to me) pair of skis I acquired from the WSU swap in December, I vowed to stay fit during the winter so that by the time the hiking season returned, I could go farther into the backcountry than in previous years.

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Deary and the Palouse from the summit of Spud Hill.

We had some early snowfalls last winter, so that by the time January rolled around, I was able to go snowshoeing with friends on a couple of trips. We started by taking advantage of the free day at the Idaho Park n’ Ski areas and headed up to Palouse Divide. Unfortunately, the trail we planned to hike had been cleared of snow as a logging road, but we had a good time. On the next trip, I headed up Spud Hill in Deary with CJ and ET. This is normally an easy hike, but with two feet of snow on the ground, it’s a good workout. We did make it to the summit for some awe inspiring winter views of the Palouse. The next week, we tackled the 5-mile Potlatch river trail. Our last winter hike would be to the Jerry Johnson hot springs near Lolo Pass. The snow on the trail turned out to be packed down, so we left our snowshoes in the car and enjoyed a nice walk through a winter wonderland with a relaxing soak in the hot pools. We finished January with a nice ski trip to Brundage with a large group of graduate students and post-docs.

February continued by following in January’s footsteps. The snowshoe trips waned as time commitments made it more difficult to get out. But then, during a weekend ski trip, everything changed. Until this time, I had never really broken a bone before. Then, on the last run of the day, I ended up in the hospital with a broken arm, femur, and tibia. That ended my physical activity for the rest of the season, and dashed my plans for a productive summer of hiking.

For the next few months, I concentrated on recovery. I still got out in the woods when I could, even for short trips or drives. By June, I was able to start bearing weight on my leg and start strengthening it in Physical Therapy. However, due to all of the inactivity, I had acquired a kidney stone, which was not fun to deal with. Fortunately, I passed it by the time I left for the Evolution Meeting in Utah, and I was able to complete some short hikes. In fact, I was able to climb to the summit of Mt. Baldy from the top of the tram at Snowbird. This was a major victory for me.

After the cabinets and some of the flooring had been removed.
After the cabinets and some of the flooring had been removed.

Just as things seemed like they were getting better, we had a plumbing explosion at the end of July. Yes, we had not one, but three separate leaks. I was able to fix the one in the pump house myself, but the two in the kitchen required professional attention. In fact, that led us to getting a whole new kitchen and a string of headaches dealing with the contractors. And while we’re on the subject of our water system, we came home one day earlier in the spring to find that the water pump wasn’t working. It was a relatively minor problem that required a new electrical controller in the well, but it was still an expensive problem to deal with.

Finally, in September, Erin found out she was pregnant, only to find out a week later that she had lost it. While it was an early miscarriage, this was not her first, and she we had been actively trying to conceive for almost two years with no success. One more loss was icing on the cake.

So, it’s been a tough year for us emotionally, physically, and financially. But we’re pulling through. It hasn’t all been bad. I got my first peer-reviewed publication accepted, a project I had been working on since I started graduate school. I passed my preliminary exams and advanced to doctoral candidacy. And, I’m proud to announce a bit of good news as we head into the new year:

Yes, you are looking at that correctly. This is our child at 11 weeks. As of today, Erin is 13 weeks along and transitioning out of the first trimester. If all goes well, we shall be welcoming our first child into the world in early July.

Yes, 2013 has been a tough year, but it is ending with hope, promise, and optimism. This year shall be a valley as we climb forward through life. 2014 will bring challenges, but they will be good challenges, welcome challenges. I’ve been back on my snowshoes once this year and I’m looking forward to more adventures. My leg’s not quite ready to start skiing again, but I may give cross-country skiing a try, since there are so many great opportunities around here.

I stand here looking forward without looking back. Good riddance to the old year, and Happy New Year.