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Where we live: Discovering Carbon County

Published January 12. 2019 07:28AM

By Chris Reber

I have much to be thankful for this year: a healthy extended family and cool roommates, a working vehicle and loyal friends.

All of those things brought me happiness through 2018, but another thing I couldn’t have done without is the scenery of Carbon County. Over the past 12 months I did more hiking and biking than I have ever done in my life, and I’m confident that if I lived anywhere else it wouldn’t have been possible.

At the beginning of 2018 I was trying to break a cycle. Usually when I got done with work I would head to a local watering hole. The regulars were always welcoming, though I knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing.

I resolved 2018 would be the year I broke that habit and stayed out of the bars. I knew I would miss the social contact, but the money saved and improved health would be worth it.

I think the first hike I took was to Hawk Falls in Hickory Run State Park. In hindsight it was a great first hike because it’s a short walk with a big payoff.

From there, I was hooked. I started scouring topographical maps for trails to natural gems. It quickly became something that I not only looked forward to each day, but something that I missed if I took a day off.

Hickory Run had lots to offer, but I realized there was so much more in the area. Riverview Park and the Switchback Trails offer similar views, and they’re about 30 minutes closer to our office.

In the summer, the Appalachian Trail became my favorite spot, with Bake Oven Knob and the Knife’s Edge becoming my favorite spots. I realized there that most animals are just as scared to see you — whether it was a piebald deer or the numerous copperheads and timber rattlers.

Of course, Glen Onoko is another favorite. Every time I hike up the falls, I try to gently remind at least one person who I see walking down (the wrong way) that they’ll have more fun if they turn around and do it the right way the next time they come back.

I’d listen for aircraft — which become so much more apparent when you are out of earshot of the highway.

During the long summer evenings, I enjoyed watching the planets come into view. I would walk and listen to the audiobook of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” — which gave me context about the wide range of size and distances of the stars, despite the fact they seem basically identical.

I probably wouldn’t have been such a dutiful hiker if I didn’t have a trusty audiobook subscription to enjoy as I hiked the area.

I started out with books like John Krakauer’s “Into the Wild,” and Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods,” which got me in the mood to hike on my less-motivated days.

Eventually I didn’t care what I was listening to — I knocked out books that I should have read in school back in the day — Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck and even Ayn Rand.

As the days got shorter and colder, I realized I was bothered less by the elements, or I had bought a piece of gear that would make them more bearable.

In November, I bought a bright orange beanie so I could hike in areas which could be open for hunting.

As we set out for 2019, I miss the social contact I had from going out, but I realize that I’m connected with so much more.

People who live in the city have the best dining, bars and social atmosphere you can ask for. Yet come the weekend, they are heading here, to Carbon County, to get something they can’t have.

Here’s to discovering even more in 2019.

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