Monday, December 26, 2016

Training Hike, take 1

Loaded the pack with 20 pounds of stuff and headed into Bankhead with Matt for the afternoon.  We walked to Caney Falls (about 3/4 mile) and then to the lower falls, another 3/4 mile or so, then beyond.  We crossed the creek a dozen or so times, crawled under fallen trees, climbed over fallen trees, slid down embankments, jumped rocks, walked logs, climbed down a cliff and did some cross country trail-free hiking.  I was a little wobbly at the start with the pack on, but quickly got my bearings.  I also walked the whole way out without stopping!  There are a couple climbs.

The worst of it was the rain-everything was slick and slippery-and the constant creek crossings.  I got hung up on low branches more than once.  One time, my hair clip clamped on a branch I was going under and I was stuck.  Another time, a bare branch got hung on one of my pockets and Matt had to come get me free.

Not much backpacking is like Bankhead, few trails have sliding, climbing, balancing and jumping as part of getting from Point A to Point B, but I have always loved that kind of hike as long as I can get dry and clean after!

Matt came up with an idea for a YouTube show about all the stuff no one tells you about with regards to hiking and backpacking.  We entertained ourselves the whole hike with ideas for the women's segment.

We did just over 4 miles in about 4 hours, but I don't care too much about the numbers, we had a great time and I got in some good practice.

One of my favorite quotes of the day was when Matt was sailing, on his butt, down a cliff face with the random notion of stopping himself via smacking a log.  I had dubbed the action 'glissading' after the tradition of sliding down snowbanks on your butt while backpacking.  He yelled, "Is it still glissading if there are saw briers?"  I went a different way.  ha!

And, finally, a sad note.  Jessie is in serious decline.  She's had what the vet suspects is a stroke.  She was so far gone afterward that I thought we'd be burying her on Christmas Eve, but she rallied.  Then another that night, and another rally, but she's not back to herself and spends most of the day on her side, staring.  She's not in pain that we can tell and will lift her head and interact, even get up and walk around, then collapse again.  Just going out to pee leaves her exhausted.

I don't know how much longer she has, but it's likely days.  
I've sobbed myself out, even Jess is like, "Oh, this again" when I get going.  But damn.  She's been a good dog and she' been our dog, for 12 years now.  It's going to leave  hole for sure.   

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice Sunrise

For the past several years we have spent the dawn hours of the winter solstice at Katy's house.  Well, in 2009 it was a sunset bonfire.  But since then, dawn.  Sunset would be easier, gah, morning.
Why are you so early, and so pretty?

Basically the exact same pic, I was just messing with settings.

Laying out!

When I flipped to tan my back, Oliver decided my butt looked soft and warm, so he climbed on board!

Afterward, we headed to town to run errands, afterward I dropped Chan off with Phoenix for a couple days and then went and got Daddy's new Fire tablet all set up so he can read ebooks on it.

Not a bad solstice.  Matt has started using his CPAP again, so I am hoping after getting up at 3 and being busy all day, I can spend this longest night of the year snuggled in and snoozing happily.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hiking Season

The winter is the best hiking season because you don't get so hot, there are no bugs, fewer snakes, no poison ivy and oak, it rains less often-even if the rains tend to last for days on end when it does rain-and there's usually no burn ban in the winter, so a lunch break campfire is possible.  Water is easier to find, the views are wide open, the sky has color, sunrise and sunset are crazy vivid, the clouds are more dramatic and the trails are less busy.

Melissa has latched on to hiking part of the AT next spring and I was all for seeing her off on her crazy early-March plan.  Hiking is one thing, camping quite another.  Now she's move the date to later in April and well...I'm thinking about it.

I ordered a custom made quilt from Enlightened Equipment that should arrive in late February (done screwing around with cold sleeping issues).  I upped my rehab (foot has been really painful of late) and bought Essential Wipes (  So basically, I am trail ready. hahaha!

I have been walking the 11 miles Richard Martin once a week, or more.  Last week I walked it twice.
Yesterday we knocked out 8.5 miles on a 15 mile trail over at Tim's Ford.  Melissa had to be home by 4 or we could have done the whole thing time-wise.  Not sure energy-wise.  Climbs are just harder than flat trail.  Karen and I carried 15 pound packs, Melissa planned to and her water bottle leaked and soaked it through.  So we kept our spirits up by making fun of her slacker ways.  I have been doing the treadmill and the local track some.  What I need is our trail to be opened back up!  We let the pasture grow over because we were told it would be bushhogged 'in 6 weeks' from that date and here it is...18 weeks later and nothing.  Grrr.  So that's going to be a full day of solid work to cut the path through those briars again.  So far, I have found other places to go just so I can put off the hand shredding.

Tims Ford is on a lake, it's a state park (TN) and it has a long trail that I have never heard of and last year, the rangers built a campsite on it.  So we went to check it out.  We did not make it to the campsite, despite being a fairly easy trail, the up and down terrain was more taxing than we'd anticipated (especially with a pack on!) and the rocks made us have to watch every step, no one had poles because no one thought ahead...anyway, we got about 4 miles back and had to turn around.  The trail is a lollipop trail, one long path in and out with a long loop at the end.  We got to just before the loop.

We got back to here, where we started and Melissa and I opted to hike on to the VC and Karen was going to drive around.
That worked out really well because there were 2 swinging bridges on that 1.3 mile stretch and Karen does not like those!  Melissa and I do.  :)


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Birthday, other Updates

We finally have rain, the burn ban is lifted, waterfalls are going again and all is starting to right itself.
Matt and I spent an afternoon filling in a few nearby counties on his geocaching map and hitting 900 finds.

Around the house, we have been doing a few things to make it more cozy for winter.  

We have a new couch-first one in...18 years.
Bought a few rugs, spent an afternoon doing some weather proofing.  It's not perfect, but it's getting more cozy and that's the goal!

We had a total of 10 kids here for Ben's b-day.  Jake, Rho, Chan, Michael and Casey went to Pathfinder and the rest of the kids stayed here to play boardgames.

Growing up!


Spent Monday with my father, today we are getting tires on Jake's ride, tomorrow is a hike with friends, Friday is lunch with some new ladies I have met.  I am really excited about it!  I am ready to start branching out and finding some friends who actually want to hang out instead of just SAY they do and never actually take me up on any offers.  WTF is up with that?  Just say you don't want to and let me stop wasting my time, yo.

Anyway, not mad, just can't figure why people need to draw things out the way they do.

Feeling hopeful-in spite of the Cheeto Elect and his dumbassery.