Top Nine Moments of 2018

Every year I enter in my Instagram information to get one of those Best Nine grids. While the engagement on those photos might be great, are they actually my best nine moments of the year? Usually not, and I am sure they aren’t the best moments for most of us.

All great moments, but were they my best moments? Yes and no.

All great moments, but were they my best moments? Yes and no.

Truthfully, my best moments don’t always perform well on Instagram. In the beginning that made me not want to post them so I could attempt to grow my account faster, but it also feels like a waste to have this account if I am not sharing what matters to me. So here are my top nine moments from 2018, according to me, in no particular order:

1. Backpacking with food poisoning.


You would think this would be on a worst nine list, but nope, it’s here in my top moments. I was miserable the majority of this trip, but it was a moment where my faith in my own capability grew so much. Throughout most of my life I have struggled with mentally giving up long before my body would. I get bored, I get burnt out, I get scared. Whatever the reason is, at some point I quit, and I regret it. After giving up on boxing in 2017 I wondered if there was anything I wouldn’t quit. Throughout the years hiking and backpacking have taught me how to be a lot stronger mentally, and I proved that to myself on this trip. The entire hike all I wanted to do was lay down and quit, but I didn’t. I made it to Thousand Island Lake. I finally found something I don’t give up on. I guess I just needed to find the right thing all along.


2. This Whidbey Island sunset.


This hike started with some of the most foreboding clouds I have seen in a long time. I questioned even getting out of the car since the weather looked so bad. The hike was short, so we opted to do it regardless of the weather to get some exercise in. We made it about halfway when the sky started to light up with this beautiful peach color. It was one of those sunsets you had to see to fully understand how glorious it was. Our faces all lit up with the pale peach light and I ran around like a demented child snapping photos. The unexpected sunsets are always the best ones.

3. Hiking in Yosemite with my childhood best friend.


My childhood friend Chelsea had a tough 2018. When Doris invited me on her Yosemite trip, I decided to fly down to San Francisco and force Chelsea to come to Yosemite with me. Chelsea and I have been close friends for over 15 years, and yet I had no idea she was afraid of heights. We hiked to Clouds Rest on our second day in Yosemite and the final section is pretty exposed and sketchy for those who have a fear of heights. Chelsea and I reached that section together and she sat down, unsure if she could go any further. I continued on to the viewpoint of Clouds Rest. I assumed I would spend a half hour there and go back to sit with Chelsea while we waited for the rest of our group to finish. I was taking photos when I turned and saw Chelsea had decided to make the final push on her own. I can’t express how excited I was to see her there conquering her fear. In my head it turned into this symbolic moment of her overcoming all the bullshit 2018 had handed to her. It may have been too much meaning to assign to that moment, but she summited that mountain and I was stoked to stand at the top of it with her.

4. Summiting Mount St Helens.


I barely took any photos on this day. I wanted to focus on the task at hand, which was climbing this mountain. This remains the most difficult hike I have done mentally. We were traveling up steep snow in heavy wind and I wasn’t comfortable with an ice axe yet. My friend decided she was too uncomfortable to continue so she stayed at the weather station below the snow line. I considered staying there with her, but there was this nagging voice in my head telling me that I should finish. So, I listened to that instead of my panic. I have tested my limits a lot this year. As a result, figuring out the difference between blind panic and warranted fear has become easier and easier. I finished Helens and immediately started researching mountaineering courses so I can continue testing the difference between the edge of my comfort zone and actual danger.

5. Snow camping for the first time.


There are things that 15-year-old Kaelee never would have believed she would be doing now. One of those things is snow camping. To be honest, I am not even sure 15 year-old Kaelee knew people went snow camping, she was too busy talking to boys on AOL instant messenger. Doris pushed me to sign up for the free Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women snow camping event, and it was amazing. So amazing that I have signed up for both events in 2019. It’s great time to meet fellow outdoor women and learn how to safely camp in the snow from Cascade Mountain Adventures. If you identify as female and want an amazing group to join, I cannot recommend PNWOW enough!

6. This Eastern Washington sunset.


This was another unexpected sunset. When we hiked into our campsite in the morning there wasn’t a cloud in sight. As the day went on the sky slowly filled with clouds. Right before sunset my friend asked me if we would even see anything. I told her that in my experience cloudy days like usually give you crap, but sometimes you get the prettiest sunset you have ever seen. Obviously, we got the latter. There were a lot of people camping in this area with us and we all looked at each other full of wonder over this gorgeous sky. It was probably the only time I have been thankful to be surrounded by people on a backpacking trip.

7. Backpacking with Brian in Canada.


I have written about Brian’s lack of presence on my Instagram feed before. Those who have been around for a while know that Brian isn’t the biggest fan of the outdoors. Every so often I am able to convince him to come with me, and those are my favorite trips. Even though he is never super pumped to be out there, he straps on a heavy-ass backpack and follows me up the mountain. Sometimes I get annoyed by the plentiful grimaces and deep sighs from him, but when I stop to think about it, his obvious disdain for the outdoors shows JUST how much he loves me. It’s one thing to do an activity you both enjoy together, it’s a whole different thing to do an activity you hate because your significant other loves it.

8. Finally making it to this lake.


Photos from this trip actually made it onto my best nine grid and looking at this lake it’s not hard to see why. I had given up on making it here this year when Sarina convinced me to go on one last backpacking trip in October. The weather would be cold but there were no clouds or wind in the forecast. So, we packed up and resolved to do the 22 mile hike in a single weekend. Sarina and our friend Andrew even added a few more miles to go up a sketchy snow field that I opted out of. Earlier, I mentioned pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but on this trip I was able to tell that I didn’t have the skills or equipment the icy snow field required. I was a little bummed I didn’t make it up there with them, but I am also happy I didn’t try and push myself into dangerous territory. The mountain will still be there when I am ready to tackle the challenge.

9. Opening up about a less than perfect part of my life.


I went back and forth about sharing my struggles with IBS. It’s pretty personal and something no one really wants to talk about. When I hit publish on my IBS blog post I immediately broke out into a nervous sweat, but it ended up being my most loved blog post this year by everyone here. I also had so many of you reach out and admit you have been dealing with the same. It’s always scary to admit to the gross parts of my life, but ultimately this community always makes me feel less alone. I am so thankful for everyone who stops by my little corner of the internet to offer encouraging words and read the things I have to say.


So, there they are, my top nine moments of 2018. Some of them made it onto my grid, most of them didn’t, and I am okay with that. The best moments aren’t always picture perfect. Sometimes they are a feeling no photo can capture or explain.

 What about you? Was your top nine grid a good reflection of your top nine moments of 2018? What would you add or subtract? I would love to hear your stories in the comments!

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