Sixth annual review here and I’m so thankful that you all continue to read, support, and engage. Once again looking back not just in terms of exploration, but also in the growth of this site. The exploration highlights of the year:
- Backpacking through Nepaug State Forest
- The surprise overlook at Lem Walker
- The surprise waterfall at Moss Tract
2022 has been one of my most exploration filled years since I started this project, but it was also one of my quietest. After 2021’s TV interviews, podcasts, and a full slate of movies, this year was more about just being out there experiencing it all with adventure partners. So, while I produced less ‘content’ I actually did many of the things I’ve long wanted to do like camping, traveling farther around the state, and actually filling in that big bold map on the homepage.
The site saw a 20% increase in visitors this year to just shy of 200,000 visits. If all those views averaged just two minutes on the site that is 329 days of time spent on exploreCT.org collectively. And, if even 5% of all those visits resulted in just an hour of hiking/paddling/mountain biking that balloons to well over an entire years worth of time exploring the stateYoutube reached exactly 1,000 hours of watch time for the year and 90 new subscribers. This was actually down about 20% from 2021, likely because I only put out 8 new moviesThe newsletter added 145 new subscribers and will likely reach 500 later this month at the current rateI added 64 new locations to the map, though I wish I had some way to quantify total number of edits because I’d ballpark it at least 1,000
What Went Well
- Despite a busy and complicated year it was one of my most explored. I explored 107 properties this year, 83 new to me and 24 I’d been before. And look at the distribution all over the state!
- I completed a review of places to explore in CT. Unofficially at 1,954. That’s right, one thousand nine hundred and fifty four hikes, paddles, and views. I’m guessing it’s still a bit low, but we’ll get to dig into this soon. As a little preview, I fully nerded out and built this dashboard pulling from a master list starting to track a bunch of different stats (though the actual numbers aren’t quite accurate yet)
- Upgrades to the site: Events calendar (short-lived but attempting to fix), maps now display all locations again, and fixed another whole swath of broken links
What Didn’t Go Well
- The first half of the year, I didn’t hike at all in January and February and slowly got back into things in March, thankfully stayed pretty consistent the rest of the year thanks to a great adventure partner.
- Still not happy with my videos, they’re fine and entertaining enough, but just the same as last year I want them to reach that next level where I more fully capture the story of the place. I had even done some pre-planning this time last year, but it got pushed to the side as my focus was elsewhere.
- I posted maybe twice to social media this year, I talked with ‘Early Bird on the Trail’ about how she does it all, but hard not to feel like it’s just chasing an algorithm.
The winter months tend to be quieter but it’s clear, I get out in proportion to what I put into this thing. After the summer questionnaire I’ve been finally putting some real work into writing and designing what that long-planned membership might look like.
- Community – I’ve got a platform lined up that attaches to the site and if it all works the way I expect it provides features like commenting on locations, sharing photos, ability to plan hikes, form groups, and easily interact with me and each other. The cost is reasonable and I can host it myself. From there I envision it growing into the seasonal primers, deep dives, meet-ups, guided/curated hikes, and perhaps even an app.Aside from membership developments,
- I expect I should be able to complete Tolland County this year and I’ve got a half dozen ideas for researched articles to write. Expect to see at least one ‘improved’ movie, some more regular social media, and a sharp increase in the number of unexplored locations as I get a little ahead listing all those 1,954 spots.
I’m excited for the new year and all it will bring. There is so much potential here and I feel like I’m in the right place to capture my ideas and further the mission of making this your complete guide to all of Connecticut’s outdoor adventures.
Happy New Year!