Fifteen Year Anniversary

March 26, 2017 marks the 15th Anniversary of the Hiking Northwest website. A lot has changed in that time. For one thing, I have grown older. I originally sized photos for dial up connections and 800 x 600 resolution screens. Today my 5" phone screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It also has a faster connection than my cable had in 2002. Over that time many hiking related websites have come and gone. WTA and NWHikers sites are still going strong. Many folks have gone off to share their hikes with friends on social media instead of more open sites. A lot of really interesting hiking sites disappeared. Through it all Hiking Northwest has continued to grow. Each year I put up roughly 40 to 50 trip reports with photos. I'm on the trail twice that often but many close in trips to familiar places do not merit a report or a series of photos.  Over those fifteen years I have written 718 trip reports which include over 22,000 photos.

Thanks to the Wayback Machine it is possible to see what Hiking Northwest looked like just a few weeks after the debut. I did not know anything about HTML and obviously about color. There are no fancy features on the site. It takes up most of my time just putting up another trip report each week. Somehow the content just keeps on growing. A few years back I created a page just for backpacking trips. There are currently 58 of them. I spend a lot of time in the Teanaway area and I was curious how many times I have hiked there. I created a page of trip reports. Turns out I have taken 104 hikes there. Every one has a trip report.

Back in the days before digital cameras I took thousands of film photos. I have scanned some and posted features like The Paradise Ice Caves. I don't find many photos available of the caves that melted away many years ago. I hike up Mt. St. Helens many times after the eruption. A feature has photos taken right after the mountain was reopened for climbing. One feature is of trails on the north side of the mountain a few years after the devastation. One of my favorite features is called That Was Then. It shows photos of North Bend taken around 1986 of North Bend from Mt. Si. and Issaquah from Tiger Mountain. Those cities have changed more than me in the past 30 years. I hope to scan more film and add historical features in coming years.

I do about half my hikes solo and half with a collection of friends and acquaintances. I enjoy the solitude of solo trips but I also enjoy sharing the mountains with others. As I get older it gets a little tougher to keep up my hiking pace. By never taking long breaks I can stay in good enough shape to keep doing long and steep trips. I hope that does not change for as long as possible.

Since I kept records of all my hikes on paper for two decades before the Internet arrived, I was able to move all those records online. I can search for a specific trip and see the total miles and elevation gain I have accumulated over 30+ years.  Below is a year by year record of trip reports posted since the start of this site.

An inventory of reports shows how the site has grown.

Trip Reports 2001 - 02
Trip Reports 2002 - 39
Trip Reports 2003 - 49
Trip Reports 2004 - 42
Trip Reports 2005 - 34
Trip Reports 2006 - 49
Trip Reports 2007 - 43
Trip Reports 2008 - 56
Trip Reports 2009 - 54
Trip Reports 2010 - 54
Trip Reports 2011 - 46
Trip Reports 2012 - 49
Trip Reports 2013 - 50
Trip Reports 2014 - 53
Trip Reports 2015 - 46
Trip Reports 2016 - 42
Trip Reports 2017 - 10
Total Reports      - 718

Features               - 50
Photos           - 22,580

After all these years it gets harder and harder to hike new trails in the Washington Cascades. My goal each year is to hike ten new trails. I've done a little better than that adding about 200 new trails since this site was established. That still leaves 70+ trips each year that are repeats. Last year was very good as I hiked 16 trails for the first time.

The last few years have not had much in the way of out of state trips. Several trips were canceled at the last minute due to forest fires. I hope to find the time to backpack out of state soon.

One fun project was in 2015. A huge 200 foot long steel bridge was built on Tiger Mountain. It was just over a mile up the trail. Putting it together without road access and cranes was really interesting. I made a dozen trips up in six weeks to document the construction. I got to know the workers and they allowed me on to the site. I put together a report with over 100 photos. I also have video of the construction that I hope to add. The bridge will likely outlive me and my report is the only record of how it went up.

The site has never been stagnant. Most weeks show another trip report. New features show up from time to time. It has taken 15 years to grow to over 700 trip reports. As long as I can get out on the trail the site should keep growing. New reports, old photos, and who knows what else. It should be fun.

Well, that about takes care of it. fifteen years of hiking and posting trip reports distilled down to a few paragraphs. I have enjoyed each and every hike and felt the satisfaction of building a site with a whole lot of hiking content. Check back often. New reports are put up nearly weekly. It will be fun to see what it looks like on the 20th anniversary.

Jim Kuresman - 3-26-17