Some say that end-of-year recaps are cliche or overdone, but we happen to love them. Though you may have followed our journeys via our website or social media, every traveler knows that the most memorable moments can never be planned nor replicated - they just happen somewhere along the way. So, we sat down and each wrote out our most memorable moment from each trip of 2017; if you were there, please feel free to add yours in the comments!
Allison: Thanks to a thoughtful participant, I ended up with a penguin costume in Patagonia that was worn by just about everyone at some point (hey, it was warm!). The night before our big trek up to the Towers, we drew names to find out who would have to wear it for the last mile of the hike. Kerri was chosen, and was an excellent sport - not only did it make for some pretty amazing photo ops, but she put a smile on the face of every single person out there struggling with the super steep, super technical last push to the top.
Gabe: On the coldest, windiest day of the trip, Rick stopped the bus (and more than a few passing spectators) to skinny dip in an iceberg covered glacial lake. YOLO?
MOROCCO: GORGES & SAHARA
A: Finishing a 100 mile week with three of our participants, none of whom had ever come close to that sort of mileage before. The final 16 mile push in the Sahara was hot and grueling, but so rewarding!
G: When Car 4 surprised us all and performed Sahara Desert Blues, a song they'd written during drive time throughout the week. "Pool's broken, bar's closed, the wifi it don't work..." Instant classic!
ENDURANCE ADVENTURE: MOROCCO
A: On the way up Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, when one of our runners said she couldn't do it, but then did it.
G: Coming up on one of our runners deep in the High Atlas mountains and finding her cradling a newborn - like, born 2 minutes ago - goat. I've never seen a smile so big!
A: When everyone agreed to plunge into the icy water at the same time, but a certain someone didn't do it (even though she wore long sleeves to stay warm). Caught on video!
G: Deciding that this group would be cool with a game of Cards Against Humanity, and seeing the one person we'd worried about offending absolutely rolling with laughter, and winning round after round after round.
BEND: WEEK 1
A: Five minutes into our long run, when I heard "Hi Allison!" behind me. It was Jessica, a fellow Austinite who had been to Morocco with us, was going to Kenya with us and just happened to be in Bend, on the same trail at the same time as we were during a trip with her kids. Such a small, wonderful world!
G: Four moons over Bend. If you didn't see it when it was momentarily posted to Facebook (oops!), then you'll probably never see it.
BEND: WEEK 2
A: This was the first trip where every participant was a complete stranger to me, and I had been a bit anxious over all of the unknown personalities in the weeks prior to the trip. I loved the moment when, within the first half hour, I looked outside and saw everyone sharing lunch and laughter as though they'd known each other for years! Starting each morning with coffee and Olympic track & field was pretty great too.
G: Karen’s 10,000 things word game. It has lived on through many trips since!
ALPE-ADRIA: WEEK 1
A: I have two: the impromptu accordion / dance party in the mountain huts and when Martha went across the river, rather than along the river, and patiently waited for nearly an hour for someone to join her. We thought she was meditating (?!) and she thought we were too wimpy to get in the cold water. The mark of a trail runner...
G: The impromptu dance party on the boat in Croatia, and impromptu swim session that followed. Seems we've got a theme...
ALPE-ADRIA: WEEK 2
A: That sunset in Rovinj.
G: My most memorable moment is not for public consumption. #hadtobethere
G: Leopards, cheetahs and lion sex.
A: I wasn't there, but when I got a text about the group giving a pair of shoes to a park ranger who is also an aspiring runner, I couldn't stop smiling. That's what it's all about!
MOROCCO: MOUNTAINS & COAST
A: Imlil. The trails turned into rivers, the rain turned into hail, our run turned into a muddy, messy obstacle course of a hike and it was an absolute blast.
G: A behind-the-scenes run scouting moment: trying to convince a taxi driver to take his 1970-something Mercedes juuuust a bit further into the canyon - right over those rocks there - so that I could mark the start of our run.
MOROCCO: SAHARA PRIVATE TRIP
A: Hearing sudden commotion in an otherwise quiet village, and seeing about thirty giggling school kids come running towards me with two of our runners right in the middle, egging them on, high-fiving and racing them all. I'm still not sure who was having more fun!
G: When our entire group got up from the picnic to cheer on our last runner during the last run of the trip, then watched him inexplicably hang a right and disappear about 100m from the finish line. He finished it out 20 minutes later with a belly full of mint tea, courtesy of the nomad family whose tent was pitched across the way.
So there you have it - some of the most memorable moments of our 2016 trips, according to us. There was never a dull moment, and with nearly twice as many trips slated for 2017, we can only imagine what's to come! Thanks to everyone who made 2016 our best year yet (yeah, we said it - we loved 2016), and to everyone who is heading into the new year with us. Big adventures ahead!