My wife took me to Alaska this year.  I had never been to that part of the world, nor have I ever seen such immense natural beauty in my entire life.   For our 10th wedding anniversary we took a six day cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Alaska and back.  Along the way, we visited the Alaskan cities of Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan.  We took a train ride into Yukon Territory, Canada.  We saw whales, bald eagles, and countless salmon.  Robin and I had the opportunity to hike along Bennett Lake, explore Glacier Bay National Park, and sail through Tracy’s Arm Inlet.  It truly was one of the “bucket-list” trips that I could only dream of and it was fitting that I got to visit the 49th state during my 49th year on the planet.  Thank you, Sweetheart!

Robin and David Raymond.  Welcome to Alaska! -- July 18, 2023

David and Robin Raymond in Tracy's Arm Inlet -- July 17, 2023

Approaching a glacier in Tracy's Arm Inlet -- July 17, 2023

Holding a piece of a glacier while touring Tracy's Arm Inlet -- July 17, 2023

White Pass Scenic Railway.  Skagway, Alaska to Yukon Territory -- July 18, 2023

White Pass Scenic Railway.  Skagway, Alaska to Yukon Territory -- July 18, 2023

White Pass Scenic Railway.  Skagway, Alaska to Yukon Territory -- July 18, 2023

White Pass Scenic Railway.  Skagway, Alaska to Yukon Territory -- July 18, 2023

White Pass Scenic Railway.  Skagway, Alaska to Yukon Territory -- July 18, 2023

Glacier Bay National Park -- July 19, 2023

Coming off of yet another surgery in late last year, 2023 was a pleasant surprise… and so many friends and family members made it special.  During the course of this past year, I had the honor of hiking, walking, or biking with the following family members:  Robin, Alex, my father, Jackie, Sophie, and Isaac.  Also along for the ride in 2023 were an amazing gang of friends:  Matt, Mike, Victor, Ben, Jeff, Clark, Brent, Chris, Josh and Tim.  This year was a mix of familiar trails and places with a good amount of “new to me” locations and trails.  What follows are my 23 favorite activities of 2023 (in no particular order).

Walk in Bedford (past the former St. Thomas School) with my Dad! -- August 26, 2023


APRIL 1, 2023

April 1… the date I had been looking forward to for months!  Robin joined me on my first bike ride since my September 1, 2022 back surgery.  We picked up exactly where I left off on August 31, 2022… the BWI Trail which circles the airport just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  It felt great to be back!

Riding the BWI Trail around the airport! -- April 1, 2023

David & Robin Raymond on the BWI Trail. -- April 1, 2023


FEBRUARY 19, 2023

Technically, King’s Gap is part of the larger Michaux State Forest.  (Once, in 2017, I accidentally ventured into this nature preserve on my mountain bike.)  This vast environmental education center has become one of my favorite hiking spots.  In February, Mike Graham and I met our good friend, Victor, there for a hike.  Our six mile hike included some amazing scenery and great conversation!

King's Gap Environmental Education Center -- February 19, 2023

Hiking King's Gap with Mike Graham and Victor! -- February 19, 2023

JUNE 7, 2023

This 30 mile ride through Cumberland Valley  makes the list because of the extremely memorable Canadian wildfire smoke that completely took over the Northeast.  The normal views Tuscarora Mountain were complete erased by the smoke that hung in the air.

Where the hell are the mountains!  Canadian smoke along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail -- June 7, 2023

Lot's of smoke along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail -- June 7, 2023


JUNE 9, 2023

Loch Raven Reservoir, located northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, is the closest thing I’ve seen to the legendary Forest Moon of Endor!  The emerald green ferns lining the trails were an unexpected delight and a huge reprieve from the obnoxious Canadian wildfire smoke that had engulfed most of the Northeast.

Riding the trails at Loch Raven Reservoir -- June 9, 2023

The emerald green terrain at Loch Raven Reservoir -- June 9, 2023

Taking a breather at Loch Raven Reservoir -- June 9, 2023


JULY 18, 2023

Bennett, British Columbia, Canada is an abandoned town next to Bennett Lake.  The townsite is now part of the Chilkoot Trail Historic Site of Canada and is managed by Parks Canada.  Robin and I got to experience and hike this area as part of our epic trip on the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad out of Skagway, Alaska!

Hands down... the best picture I took in 2023.  An amazing view of Bennett Lake while hiking the Chilkoot Trail in Bennett, British Columbia, Canada -- July 18, 2023

Robin and David Raymond hiking the Chilkoot Trail in Bennett, British Columbia, Canada -- July 18, 2023

An old abandoned church on the Chilkoot Trail in Bennett, British Columbia, Canada -- July 18, 2023

David Raymond near Bennett Lake -- July 18, 2023

Another view of Bennett Lake from the Chilkoot Trail in Bennett, British Columbia, Canada -- July 18, 2023


JANUARY 28, 2023

The northwest side of Pinchot Lake at Gifford Pinchot State Park is notoriously muddy.  Robin and I experienced this first hand while hiking there in January.  At some point, it became impossible to avoid the mud so we just embraced it and trekked straight through it!

An absolute mud fest at Gifford Pinchot State Park -- January 28, 2023

David and Robin Raymond hiking Gifford Pinchot State Park -- January 28, 2023


DECEMBER 16, 2023

Matt and I came up with the idea of the Ugly Sweater Mountain Bike ride in 2018.  (Surgeries aside), we’ve been continuing the tradition every year, since at the Hershey Trail System in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  This year, we were joined by Tim, Ben, and a few others.  This year, our Ugly Sweater ride included an extra reason to celebrate… the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party!

Matt Linnane and David Raymond on our 6th annual Ugly Sweater ride -- December 16, 2023

The entire crew for the 6th annual Ugly Sweater Ride in Hershey -- December 16, 2023

Matt Linnane, co-founder of the Ugly Sweater Ride. -- December 16, 2023

I was honored to have two former students, Ben Kelly and Josh Main, join me on the Ugly Sweater Ride. -- December 16, 2023

David Raymond.  Ugly Sweater Ride 2023 -- December 16, 2023

Josh Main and Ben Kelly.  Ugly Sweater Ride 2023. -- December 16, 2023

David Raymond and a random gnome.  Ugly Sweater Ride 2023 -- December 16, 2023

Dumping out our tea prior to the Ugly Sweater Ride!  #BostonTeaParty250 -- December 16, 2023

JULY 15, 2023

Robin is so amazing at planning activities for our anniversary.  This year, prior to our Alaskan cruise, we spent time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  On our first day there we hiked the amazing Capilano Suspension Bridge & Rainforest!

After crossing the legendary Capilano Suspension Bridge (suspended 203 feet above the forested river gorge) we experienced an epic walk through the beautiful rainforest canopy.

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Rainforest Canopy -- July 15, 2023

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Rainforest Canopy -- July 15, 2023

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Rainforest Canopy -- July 15, 2023

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Rainforest Canopy -- July 15, 2023

Capilano Suspension Bridge and Rainforest Canopy -- July 15, 2023

APRIL 7, 2023

Back in April, I did my first “long” ride since getting back on my bike with my good friend, Clark.  We pedaled 40 miles on the Enola Low Grade along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County.  As of this date, I have yet to ride the entire Enola Low Grade bike path.  I gotta do that in 2024.

Enola Low Grade with Clark. -- April 7, 2023

MAY 23, 2023

This typical after school bike ride turned into something really cool when I decided to turn up a muddy access road that led into Pennsylvania’s newest State Park, Susquehanna Riverlands.  Once up the hill, I found my way to a trail that led to Schull’s Rock that provides an amazing view overlooking the Susquehanna River. 

Susquehanna Riverlands State Park -- May 23, 2023

Schull's Rock overlooking the Susquehanna River at Susquehanna Riverlands State Park. -- May 23, 2023

FEBRUARY 17, 2023

Rocks State Park, in northern Maryland, is a popular destination because of the amazing view provided by the rock formation known as King and Queen Seat… but not on this particular day.  For some odd reason, I had off school on this particular week day, so I headed out for a solo hike through the cold February rain and fog.  I’ve been to Rocks State Park multiple times, but this was the first time that I ever felt like I had the place (and King & Queen Seat) all to myself.  Pretty cool.

King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park. -- February 17, 2023


It is impossible to choose just one Michaux ride to put on this end of the year list.  I had the joy of spending time in Michaux this year with Matt, Ben, Chris, Brent, and Jeff.  The amazing thing is that, after riding nearly two decades of riding in Michaux State Forest, each ride this year included a “new to me” section of trail.  This forest never ceases to amaze me!

Ben Kelly, Dave Raymond, & Chris Keller in Michaux -- April 7, 2023

Matt Linnane and Dave Raymond in Michaux. -- April 10, 2023

Brent Shirt, Matt Linnane, and Dave Raymond in Michaux. -- June 6, 2023

David Raymond and Jeff Schroll in Michaux State Forest. -- June 26, 2023

Matt Linnane and David Raymond in Michaux State Forest -- August 15, 2023

David Raymond and Ben Kelly in Michaux State Forest -- November 24, 2023

JUNE 20, 2023

CANYON EDGE- McCLUNE - LOWER CANYON EDGE - WOODCAT - SUGARLOAF - ROCKS - BAUGHMAN - GAP - JONATHAN RUN  - KENTUCK.  These trails, pieced together, were (up to this point) the most amazing mountain bike ride I had ever done in Ohiopyle State Park!

Ohiopyle State Park -- June 20, 2023

Ohiopyle State Park -- June 22, 2023

MARCH 18, 2023

Catoctin Mountain in northern Maryland (and just south of Gettysburg, PA) is an amazing place to hike.  Its rugged, forested terrain adds to its beauty and its proximity to the presidential retreat, Camp David, just makes it super cool.  

Morning coffee on top of Catoctin Mountain -- March 18, 2023

MARCH 19, 2023

The day after my solo hike at Catoctin Mountain, I met Victor in Boiling Springs for an amazing hike up (and over) White Rocks then down to the Appalachian Trail.  On this hike, we passed a marker for the “midpoint” of the Appalachian Trail.  Knowing that there is another “midpoint” marker further south in Michaux State Forest, I asked Victor about the reasoning.  He explained that, technically, the “midpoint” of the trail changes over time because of trail reroutes and other natural occurrences.  So fascinating.

"Midpoint" marker on the Appalachian Trail -- March 19, 2023

Victor Wueschinski and David Raymond.  White Rocks Trail. -- March 19, 2023

Dave Raymond and Victor Wueschinski.  White Rocks Trail. -- March 19, 2023

AUGUST 8, 2023

There is no way that a “half century” ride including Valley Forge Historical Park, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, AND the Rocky statue cannot be on this list.

Rocky Statue in Philadelphia, PA -- August 8, 2023

Philadelphia Museum of Art. -- August 8, 2023

Independence Hall -- August 8, 2023

Valley Forge National Historical Park -- August 8, 2023

MAY 15, 2O23

Once, maybe 15 years ago, Rattling Creek was familiar to me.  Not so much anymore.  Matt, on the other hand, has become pretty familiar with it and I really appreciate any chance I get to revisit the area with him!  When I do, I’m reminded that the terrain can be unforgiving and can literally rattle your bones. This super fun ride proved to be a preview of the summer that was to come!

Dave Raymond and Matt Linnane at Rattling Creek. -- May 15, 2023

JULY 4, 2023

Two signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried In York, Pennsylvania, less than 8 miles from where I live.  On July 4, I took a bike ride into York City to pay respects at the graves of James Smith (buried in the graveyard at the First Presbyterian Church on Market Street) and Phillip Livingston (buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery).   As an added bonus, I visited the statue of the Marquis de Lafayette!

Graves of James Smith and Phillip Livingston.  Both were signers of the Declaration of Independence. -- July 4, 2023

Hanging with Lafayette on the 4th of July! -- July 4, 2023

JULY 5, 2023

Snakes live in the woods.  In particular, they live in the rocks that make up Sunset Rocks in Michaux State Forest!  My eagle-eye nephew, Isaac, was the first to spot not just one, but two, nests of timber rattlers while we boulder climbed through Sunset Rocks.

Hiking Sunset Rocks with Jackie, Sophie, and Isaac. -- July 5, 2023

JULY 11, 2023

I love mountain biking in coal country with Matt.  The trail system in Mount Carmel twists and turns through the remnants of old mining pits and the ground is as black as coal.  It is just so different from anything we are used to and it is, for sure, worth the extra drive to explore the area.

Matt Linnane in Mount Carmel -- July 11, 2023

Dave Raymond in Mount Carmel -- July 11, 2023

DECEMBER 1, 2023

At the beginning of December I found myself in Nashville for the second time in as many years.  This time, with my friend and colleague, Eric Gimbi, Jr. for a Social Studies conference.  I packed my Diverge in the back of my truck and had the opportunity to dodge the raindrops and explore 14 miles of the Music City Bikeway during a break in the conference.  So fun!

Social Studies teachers, colleagues, and friends... Eric Gimbi and David Raymond at the 103rd National Conference of Social Studies in Nashville, Tennessee. -- December 1, 2023

Music City Bikeway in Nashville, Tennessee -- December 12, 2023

NOVEMBER 23, 2023

Hamer Woodlands at Cove Mountain is a Nature Preserve north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Robin and I got to explore the area twice in November.  On our first hike, I led us down a trail that I believed would circle back.  Well, I was wrong.  We ended up doubling back.  Our second experience was on Thanksgiving morning and we made sure not to make the same mistake.  What the trail system lacks in mileage is made up for with its rugged beauty and rocky inclines.

David and Robin Raymond on a Thanksgiving hike in Hamer Woodlands at Cove Mountain -- November 23, 2023

In center of the picture, you can see Pennsylvania's Statue of Liberty standing stoically in the middle of the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg, PA. -- November 23, 2023

OCTOBER 2, 2023

If anyone would have told me, when I was 25 years old, that I’d still be mountain biking and hiking when I was 50 I wouldn’t have believed it.  On my 50th birthday, I was so happy to hit the local trail system at Rocky Ridge to celebrate the milestone!

50th birthday ride at Rocky Ridge County Park! -- October 2, 2023


My grand-daughter, Freya, helping me blow out the candles on my 50th birthday cake! -- September 30, 2023

David A. Raymond -- December 29, 2023
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Enjel said…
"Wow, what an incredible adventure! Your journey through Alaska and beyond is truly inspiring. The breathtaking landscapes, thrilling hikes, and memorable bike rides paint a vivid picture of your explorations. Your zest for life and appreciation for nature shine through every photo and anecdote. Thanks for taking us along on your remarkable journey, and here's to many more adventures ahead! 🏔️🌲 #LifeIsAJourney #BucketListTrips #NatureLovers"

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