Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in photos

Wow, the end of 2012 snuck up from behind, didn't it? The annual "year in photos" post is one of my favorite to make, but this one is a bit more thrown together than years past. Still, it is fun to view the fading year through the lens of a single favorite photo for every month. I have a lot of favorites from this year, so it was hard to pick only one — especially when it meant choosing between different amazing places that I was fortunate to visit during this full year.

 I took the above photo in early January near Shell Lake, Alaska. Beat and I were killing time while waiting for a plane to pick us up, and went for a walk across the lake. It was 25 below zero, and an ice fog had just lifted off the lake an hour before the sun set. The air was so clear that we could see individual flakes of frost sparkling in the distance.

February: Two cyclists push their bikes up the Yentna River on the second day of the Iditarod Trail Invitational. My pilot friend Dan Bailey and I flew over the river to look for Beat and cheer for racers as they slogged their way through fresh snow on the ice. Although it's impossible to convey the scale of the Iditarod Trail with any photo, I like the effect of this image — tiny snow bikers, a thin white line, and a wild expanse.

March: A winter trail cuts through a burn in the foothills of the White Mountains north of Fairbanks, Alaska. I love stark black-and-white effects in real life, which is one of the reasons I'm so drawn to these winter landscapes.

April: Evening ride with Leah above Rodeo Valley, in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco. Leah calls the Headlands "magical" and I'm inclined to agree. For a place so close to civilization, these hills offer a quiet respite to go along with punishing climbs and ripping descents.

May: Beat runs along a trail in Point Reyes, California. Life in California has renewed my appreciation of the Pacific Coast. The sparkling ocean instills the same kind of awe I feel when I look at big mountains.

June: Leah rides down Usal Road during our Lost Coast bike tour in northern California. What a great tour this was. In five days, we traveled some of the most remote and stunning terrain that coastal California has to offer.

July: Friends stand on the summit of Peak One in the Tenmile Range outside Frisco, Colorado. Our friend Daniel lives in an enviable location where one can walk out of his front door and in less than two hours climb to this spot, where we watched the sunset from nearly 13,000 feet.

August: My favorite photo of the year — the formidable Mont Blanc, as seen from 12,600 feet at the Aiguille di Midi station on the border of Italy and France. The day before the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, my friends Martina, Sandra, and I spent the whole day riding gondolas and trains to various high points around Chamonix. At the time, I still believed I'd was going to circumnavigate Mont Blanc during UTMB, and took several minutes to stand outside in the subfreezing cold and soak in the scale of this incredible mountain.

September: A couple of weeks after the last photo was taken, while Beat was racing the Tor des Geants in Italy, I embarked on a string of incredible day hikes above the Aosta Valley. I took this photo from the original UTMB route — the Tour du Mont Blanc trail — outside Courmayeur. I've fallen in love with the Alps, in a way that might get me into a lot of trouble in 2013 (more on that soon.) But for now, I can look at photos from innocent times and feel happy.

October: This month was a difficult one to narrow down because it was full of beautiful adventures, but I decided on a photo of the Utah desert. I shot this photo during a bike ride on the Kokopelli Trail above Onion Creek Valley, north of Moab, Utah. I managed to time my autumn travels perfectly with fall colors — late September in Northern Utah, October in the high desert, and November in Southwestern Utah.

November: Beat scouts a route up Mount Timpanogos. I shot this photo during an outing with him and my dad that was supposed to be a snowshoe hike, but turned into a hard day of hiking mixed with light mountaineering. We failed to gain the high meadow we were aiming for, but had a lot of fun trying. (Or, I should clarify — I had a lot of fun trying. Few people love a good slog as much as I do.)

December: Here's a photo I took today, December 29, in Fairbanks, Alaska. Originally I picked a photo of a mist-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge, but I am a sucker for Alaska winter shots. I've been able to embark on some beautiful snow bike rides while visiting Fairbanks, and today's ride took me onto a fun loop of narrow winter trails in the Goldstream Valley. After winding through the trees, I came out into a frozen swamp where I caught my first glimpse of the hills, painted bright red by the glow of the low-angle sunlight. It was a stunning contrast. I'll post more snow-biking photos soon. Until then, Happy New Year. Thanks for reading.

Photo posts from years past:
2010 part one, part two


  1. What a stunning year! I hope I can achieve a few adventures in the year to come, inspirational!

  2. Thank you Jill for another year of great adventures. I really love that December photo, it really contrasts with the heat here in Australia. Good luck with your New Year adventures!

  3. Those are amazing photos Jill!! Thanks for posting, and have a Happy New Year full of adventure :)

  4. What a fabulous year! And the photos mean you can come back and reminisce anytime.

  5. Those are some beautiful pics Jill

  6. I love these posts. July was surprisingly my favorite, beating out September and October. They're all awe-inspiring, but that one really spoke to me. Happy New Year, Jill and Beat.


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