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  • Writer's pictureBlaine Hoppenrath

That's a Wrap: See Ya Later 2021

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

I love a good end of the year review.

The first part of 2021 was fine. I started a new job (which I love) but outside of work was in an unhealthy relationship (great guy we were just not a good pair) and well COVID is still looming around. But after getting into a rhythm as work and getting out of that relationship, I started to fall back in love with myself. December ended up being a dumpster fire for me personally. I was part of a court case that lost epically and had hit some snags in my personal relationships. It felt like 2021 ending just the way it started, meh. But there were six months, SIX MONTHS, that were beyond amazing.

I really kicked off the peak of 2021 with a trip to Yellowstone. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect besides hopefully seeing a bison. Well, I saw plenty of bison, camped in the most epic river valley, and fell in love with the thermal features of the park. It was so refreshing to sleep in a tent and be face to face with a bear. Things that I had so desperately missed that drove me to have an epic second half of the year.

Visiting Chicago a few weeks later was a sobering experience, but made me remember why its so important to make time for our loved ones. I saw my paternal grandparents for the first time in a few years and it was difficult to see them unable to remember who I was. They tried and tried and in the end had no idea who I was. I wasn't ready for them not to remember me. I am so grateful for the time that I was able to spend with them and hope I will make it back again soon. But on a happier note, I was able to see one of my childhood best friends, Mary Catherine, and meet her new baby, Connor, and hit the town (or Suburbs) with Claire (my college roommate).

Next up was my first vacation since I started working for Amazon. I arrived in Washington and was able to see Anna for the first time since COVID struck and as always grateful for her friendship. Then I met some fellow coworkers who drove me to Olympic National Park, where we spent the next four days summiting Mt. Olympus. The group was amazing and I met Jess who doesn't work for Amazon but had a connection and ended up on the trip. Our guides were freaking awesome (when are guides not?) and we safely summited to a socked in view (but hey, you can win them all) and crushed miles on the final day to be able to camp on the beach the final night.

I had a magical return to the PCT where I overnighted in Goat Rock wilderness (and saw actual Mountain Goats) and had the most magical sunrise I have ever seen. With Rainer to the west and Adams to the east, the view over the dueling mountains was incredible. It made me dream of summiting them and all of the Cascade Peaks.

August and September were mostly spent chasing trails around the West. I snagged Humphreys Peak (AZ Highpoint) and Wheeler Peak (NM Highpoint) in back to back weekends. Knocked out the Timberline Trail, with Jess who I met in Washington, who makes one hell of a hiking partner. Made a trip to the Tetons and circled back to my home away from home, the Grand Canyon.

Thrown in there, after a change in plans was a trip to Nashville for work, where I was able to step foot on the iconic Appalachian Trail. What a gem. It's not the PCT, but I was perfectly fine being able to hike 8 perfect miles. The green tunnel was everything it's cracked up to be. After spending the week in Nashville I darted up to Wind Cave National Park and nerded out on all things cave. The trip concluded with meeting a friend that previously I had only met on weekly zoom study group calls. I can't wait to meet the rest of the group, and Adam certainly lived up to his big personality that we all had grown to know over the previous year. Not to mention the Mike and the Moonpies concert that AMAZING.

October ended with a trip to San Francisco to reunite with Diamond and Big Gulps and I slipped back into being Yose for the weekend. It was the first time we had been together since trail and it did not disappoint. We were a disaster in the best possible way. I love them both so much that I hope we will get together again in 2022.

The rest of the year closed out with friends and family. I spent an amazing weekend with my maternal grandmother in Tulsa when I asked her questions I have probably asked dozens of times but never tire of hearing the answers. I always love visiting and going through old pictures of family to remember how lucky I am to be part of such an amazing group of people. I also spent hours with my longest running friend, Rachel, and it was one of the best afternoons of the year. I then got to spend a weekend with Abby in early December and met her babe, Graham, and what a freaking cute kid that one is. As always the time spent with her was way to short, but loved the sledding session she let me crash with her family.

The rest of the year was... a dumpster fire? I struggled with the outcome of a court case that had led me to Minneapolis in the first place. It was a tough loss to take but I wouldn't have changed anything that led me to that moment in time. I also really struggled with friendships. I felt like I went from cloud nine in the fall to rock bottom by winter. It is still something that I am working through and trying to understand. After all, how do I build friendships in a city that I'm not sure I am meant to be in? It's been lonely and really hard the last month or so. I have also struggled missing my friend that live all over the country. It is so hard to have a handful of deeply meaningful friendships and yet none of them live here. It's the downside to leaving home for college and having friends that moved all over.

I don't say any of that to dwell on the fact the year ended on a bad note. Except it did end on a bad note. For me, that's okay. Because life doesn't start and stop on random days on an arbitrary calendar. I know next year I want to find the balance of friendships, weekend warrior-ing, and time to rest and recover. I do want to continue to make meaningful connections to people, even when it's hard.

It's why I love looking at the year in its totality. Because while I am going through a really hard time right now, I get the remember that there were some freaking awesome moments. Moments that I won't forget. I know the painful times will take a while to cope with, but seeing my family and friends this year, that was everything. Meeting new babies and new people (I mean I can't emphasis enough how hard it is to find a hiking partner) was monumental. There is so much planned for Q1 of '22 that I know I might not exactly find the balance I am looking for, that might have to happen in Q2 of '22.

But 2021. It's been real. It's been fun. It's been Real Fun.

Smell ya later.

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