It’s A Beautiful Life – 2020 Recap in Photos

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

What a year we have all endured. 2020 certainly gave us all pause and a chance (whether we liked it or not) to come to changing understandings of who we are and how we spend our time. Many of our ways of coping, tolerating or striving in this world were disrupted, if not entirely removed from our lives.

Nonetheless, here we are. We are surviving, improvising and creating in this dynamic new world. As I scroll through the photo reels from the last year in hopes of deleting duplicates, blurry photos and simply clearing some space on the computer I am struck by how many gorgeous images are flowing across my screen.

How can I have such a bleak general memory of this year-of-all-years in spite of all of this beauty captured and experienced?

In an effort to memorialize an already memorable year I am going to post a photo or two from each month of 2020 and describe the circumstance. At least for my own memories I would love to be able to reflect with gratitude on so much that this life has made possible.


West Shore, Lake Tahoe, California

In typical Tahoe fashion we were given a glimpse of winter in January 2020 and, for a moment there… it did not disappoint! The West Shore of the Lake was holding cold powder and it all seemed a bit like Utah for a few days (probably hours…) here in the Sierra.


Tam McArthur Rim, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

In February I was lucky enough to be invited on a yurt trip to Oregon. We were situated right on the border of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, just below Tam MacArthur Rim. “Tam Rim” is a unique section of geology, created by both volcanic and glacial activity, that rose up above the yurt we occupied. For a moment before the pandemic, life was simple, keeping the fire stoked, cooking meals, sipping whiskey and picking the next line to ski.


Lake Tahoe, California

Well, in March of 2020 things got weird. The pandemic became omnipresent in all of our lives. In Tahoe, the winter drought ending coincided with the pandemic starting and in a single weekend, the skiing was great again. This was complicated by the stay-at-home orders, ski areas closing, no car pooling, recommendations to not take any outdoor risk for fear of needing SAR assistance and further stressing the system. It was confusing, to say the least. Slowly and safely we got out and skied our local lines, but not without near paralyzing thoughtfulness and hand wringing, on my part. Meanwhile at work (as a front-line urgent care physician assistant) I was participating in COVID testing and evaluating patients through car windows with a biohazard-style suit on… Life was bizarre; but winter was on!


Truckee, California

Then we hunkered down. We baked bread and did puzzles. We packed up plenty of hand sanitizer and face masks and cruised the neighborhood on e-bikes. We played board games and zoomed with friends and family.


Eastern Sierra, California

In an effort to normalize a completely abnormal ski season we headed down the Eastern Sierra in pursuit of a spring skiing adventure. The snow line was high, we rallied the trucks to the very top of the Buttermilk Road and had some pretty glorious sliding around on snow. The truck and camper survived one of the rowdier 4×4 approach roads it’s ever seen!


Near Quincy, California

Then in the spring we took to mountain biking and hunkering down in the camper in the woods of Northern California. With a rotating assortment of friends in tow we spent weekends living out of the truck and camper near lakes and trailheads with the bikes. Lap after lap on shuttled downhills and climbing dusty trail miles passed the days away.


Truckee, California

As the snow melts, the Wife and I put the skis away and get out the first muddy, then later dusty trail running shoes. We kept ourselves entertained with day long “adventure runs” that often involve picnics, hiking and peak bagging our way around the mountains with light packs and a tiny water filter.


Grant Lake, California

We took full advantage of the camper in the summer of 2020. From evenings getting a quick swim and sunset from Prosser Reservoir, near home, to weekends along random lakes of the Sierra. We borrowed some stand up paddle boards and stuck to ourselves paddling, running and soaking our way around the mountains of California. On this trip I ended up on an epic trail run that culminated in my bonking on the wrong side of a lake from Lindsay; 18 miles and thousands of feet into my run. I had a plastic bag on me that I threw my phone in and simply jumped in the lake and finished the run with an unplanned swim back to the camper! Adventure!


North of Truckee, California

My quarantine project of 2020 became working on this live edge table. My buddy back in Minnesota is an expert wood worker (he’s a 3rd generation logger) and hooked me up with this gorgeous piece of ash. It was a planed and kiln dried full thickness slab of ash with live edge on both sides. Thanks to Matt and YouTube I ultimately did complete it and it looks pretty good if I do say so myself! Matt’s Instagram and YouTube accounts are a great place to watch big machines and lot’s of wood! Check him out and you just might learn something: Mathew Collins Designs on YouTube or Instagram.


Truckee, California

More exploring the neighborhood through the fall. We biked, hiked and ran as much as work and our beat up legs permitted. Lindsay made a habit of crashing bikes, specifically on her right arm, through the summer while I ended up spending just over a month in a walking boot from a running overuse injury… Moderation has never been my strong suit.


Yosemite, California

Then in November we split town for Yosemite National Park. Both last year and this year we planned a fall trip to the valley to break up the routine and run some gorgeous trails. This year we were lucky enough to not only catch amazing fall colors but we were also fortunate enough to see some of the first snow of the season. The combination of bright leaves in the trees and a soft blanket of snow made Yosemite Valley magical!


Lake Tahoe, California

Well, it feels a bit too clean and tidy looking back on the year highlighting only these memories…but that’s ok. The anxiety, all the turmoil, the social stressors, they will all be burned into our memories of this year for the rest of our lives. This is where I’m gonna keep all the good feels, one photograph at at time.

A few bonus shots:


Add yours →

  1. BEN, this great writing & spectacular photos!

    I’m very proud of you.

    ❤️ Dad

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. ancy Augustine March 9, 2021 — 2:49 am

    Love it, Ben! Thanks 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amelia Barouxis March 9, 2021 — 8:52 am

    Ben, I really enjoyed this post… It’s making me want to go through the last year of my pictures of adventures with Quincy, Eric and create a little photo memory book. Thank you for the encouragement, also forcing me to acknowledge the good things we have experienced this last year. Although it was amidst a lot of stressful and challenging times… we are her healthy and present.

    Sending love to you and Lindsey. Hope to see you out west in the next year or so!! Much love from us three to you two!!!


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Ben, I’m so impressed with your manystepsmakemountains ‘stories’. You do a great job…the pictures are so beautiful and amazing! Keep posting your adventures, it’s a treasure! Lynne


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