Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Journey

In the meantime

Hello everyone, I hope everyone is having a great weekend. It’s rainy in my corner of the world, but my heart is filled with sunshine from just recent days.

I have interrupted my scheduled posts to stop the flow of distractions coming in. I am taking a break this weekend to catch up on your comments and do some reading of your own blogs. In the meantime I leave you with another picture of “The Wave.” Never would I have imagined how much this place was needed at a pivotal point in my journey. What significance it would hold for me and what a turning point it would mark for me. No ordinary moments…ever.

Posted in Adventure, Challenges, Hiking, Mother nature

I made it…(with support and help)…and I’m here to tell my story

2021 has been a year of many different endeavors and adventures, but when it comes to hiking this is my biggest and my only one to report this year. It still seems surreal that I got to experience this place and that I made it. This is my story of what it was like.

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that on the physical front and health wise 2021 has been a huge challenge for me. I have encountered one of the most powerful RA flare ups, which had rendered me unable to hike and accomplish normal daily tasks. For months, days were filled with pain of different levels and just walking on slightly uneven ground presented a huge challenge for me. Walking was hard, period, and I felt stiff and uncoordinated. And then came a break and I managed 2 miles and then 3 miles before the trip. Two days before the “Wave” hike I made it to 4.2 miles and 4 Miles the next trying to build up my endurance. My feet felt like they had gone through a meat grinder which didn’t help ease the anxiety I had about the hike. From the beginning on after learning that we had won the lottery and permits to hike the wave, my excitement was muffled about this rare and at times NEVER in a lifetime opportunity that I was presented with. I had my doubts that I make it, that I would be physically able to do it. I was nervous all the way up to the trailhead and beyond. 4.2 miles was the furthest I had managed so far and what was ahead of me was a 6.4 miles round trip, another 2.2 miles. I should be able to make it if I take my time I convinced myself. Too late to turn back now and I knew it was now or NEVER.

The trail started out in a wash, a dried up riverbed that can flood quickly and at any time during flash floods. These floods can occur rapidly and suddenly, carrying a wall of water, 12 ft high from storms that often occur far away. Challenge #1 keeping an eye out to not be taken by surprise or off guard should such a thing happen today. This was not the way I planned on being swept away today.

A half mile later, following the wash, a trail was leaving the riverbed, leading into a short but steep rocky climb to higher elevation. I took my time, huffed a little and thought that just recently I would have not been able to made this climb. Overall I was glad to be at higher elevations as this 12ft wall of rushing water was still in the back of my mind. What followed next was a good stretch of sandy path that was actually easy on the feet. Cinnamon loved it and pranced around with temps still on the cool side and an overcast sky. Partly cloudy was the forecast in the mid 60’s. By the end of that stretch my phone said that I had gone nearly 1.5 miles already and I felt confident that I’d make it. After all I was halfway there already while assessing my energy levels and current condition.

The sandy, soft on your feet section ended across another wash that appeared wet and just recently flooded. In front of me was a moderately to steep rock wall. “What, we have to climb this wall” is what I recall myself saying and it was in that very moment that what was described to me as an easy trail taking on a different meaning. Easy? Apparently your type of easy and mine are a lottttt different I thought. You got to be kidding me. Slow and steady does it and I climbed the wall, feeling then already that a few times I was hitting my physical limitation. Yeah it was cooler which is better for me to hike, but going from 0-100 in practically no time of adjustment was something else. This would push my limits at the end of a major RA flare. Pure adrenaline pushed me on, but this was only one way and I would have to make it back again as well. I remember fearing that I’d exhaust all of my energy, that I’d run my tank on empty, but that 6.4 miles round trip number still brought some comfort. Hopefully some time of rest would be enough to recover for the way back.

What goes up must come down and on the other side of the rock wall that I had just climbed was waiting the descend. Worse than going up for me with the arthritic knees and having to step sideways down the steep “Paul Bunyan” steps. And of course I made that as well. Further hilly stretches of ups and downs, with sand and slippery rock followed where you either follow the footsteps of others who came before you in the sand or the pictures on a map you are giving that shows landmarks along this mainly unmarked trail to the wave. 4 miles had passed, aren’t we close yet? I should have arrived already. “See the people (the tiny dots) ahead of us….that’s where we are going. “You got to be kidding” made a reappearance and by now I started to feel anger, frustration, fear, worry and doubt, all rushing in at the same time. An encouraging “I am proud of you and you are doing great” was shot down by me saying that being proud had nothing to do with this. That this was borderline stupidity, that I felt in danger, at risk of getting hurt, of doing more damage to my joints, that I had no health insurance if something did happen, and that it might was a bit much for Cinnamon to manage as well, since she had never gone this far in her little short life. Again, just like before I called for higher protection to be able to make it and to keep me safe throughout it all. This was not what I had signed up for and I felt that the decision of whether to be able to attempt that hike was taken from me and had never been mine to make. How foolish, I thought, feeling misunderstood with no clue of what I endured with this relentless disease so far this year. It’s so much more than just a little arthritis pain. It’s excruciating, debilitating to the point of that it is deforming your joints and bones. Not to mention the fatigue and all the other side affects it brings along with itself. Honestly, had I known, I most likely would have not gone, and I’m sure it was no secret even though the words were never spoken. But like always anger always passes, and in all my big achievements it was better for me not to know what was ahead of me. Perhaps I would have doubted myself, not believed in myself enough to make it, stressed myself out prematurely or what have you, despite of my strong believe that we can achieve anything if we put our mind to it.

The tiny dots ahead of us were scaling another rock wall. Steeper and more daunting yet, than the initial one and prior ones I had climbed. Between us a sand dune with deep sandy parts and another descend. Wet sand, wet and dry rock and sheer cliffs caused extra need for caution. It was slow going with one step forward and two steps back in the sandy, climbing parts. Having reached the rock wall we took a break and it was suggested that we don’t have to go any further. I was still fuming at that point, but frustration was turning into desperation, fear and another prayer. How could I have lived with that decision and the only way I would have stopped, denying myself and everyone the view of the destination would have been if I felt Cinnamon was at risk. We were so close, stopping or turning around was not optional, I would have never lived this one down. On we went to the final stretch, the final climb, dousing Cinnamon once more with water along her backside to keep her cool. The overcast sky had cleared to partly cloudy and it seemed like the temps had shot up by 20 degrees which caused part of the difficulty. Unbelievable, in November, and I can’t imagine hiking this in 100+ degrees that it easily reaches in the summer month.

The final ascend was the hardest, steep and slippery. Here I was in my new shoes, men’s walking shoes to accommodate my wider foot now that had spread out over the summer, courtesy of the RA. In my opinion the sole and profile of my shoes seemed non sufficient for such a task, too flat with not enough profile and it wasn’t proven as secure yet that they could handle such terrain. Not to mention my own ankles and agility. I don’t know how many times I thought that any minute I would roll my ankle over the uneven ground and having to walk sideways, over the angled rock. All while keeping my eyes peeled for rattlesnakes, tarantulas and scorpions.

And then we had finally made it. We had arrived at a (for me) once in a lifetime opportunity and stood at the entrance to the wave. I knew this would be my only time seeing it and that I most likely would never make it back here again. Here I was 5+ miles later with another 5+ to make it back to the trailhead, grateful and overcome by this natural beauty. How many times had I been in this position before, cursing, on the brink of wanting to give up, on the edge of tears and anger, somehow finding the courage and strength to push on and be rewarded with something that is always worthwhile in the end. You just can’t drive up to a location like this and the most stunning views require hard work to get there. Before the hike I knew and thought to myself that this adventure would definitely show me what I am made off, although deep down I already knew the answer to that. It’s amazing what we can achieve by sheer willpower, when we don’t set our own limitations and believe that anything is possible. There truly is no guts and glory in the passive, in waiting, but it is in the daily choices we make for ourselves and we are always one choice away from a completely different life.

We were able to stay a few hours and take as many pictures while enjoying as many angles of the wave as possible. In the end we had it all to ourselves which was my favorite part. Listening to the silence and feeling the magic of this place that definitely holds a healing vortex, I sat in stillness, grounding and replenishing myself for what was ahead. Eventually leaving, we allowed ourselves plenty of time to make it back with breaks and before darkness would hit. Getting back took actually a bit longer and I chalk it up to just being tired from having walked so far already. I was extra cautious to not make mistakes and get careless because of fatigue. Surprisingly my feet felt decent with the extra cushioning of the metatarsal pads I was wearing inside my roomy shoes, but they were tired to say the least. Back at the trailhead and 10+ miles later, it felt surreal that I got to see and experience this magnificent wonder. That I had made it and could mark this off of my bucket list, being given that second chance after missing my first one as I left for Germany to care for my sick mother in 2018. That I could share this adventure with someone special and that I had help and support through the sketchy parts. Surely I would have made it on my own if I had to, but it would have been far scarier, with additional time requirements shortening my stay. It will be an experience that stays with me forever and a testimony of the human spirit and making not even the sky your limit.

Now a few days later, I made two posts on social media in hiking with dogs and another group, with this very picture and a much much shortened version, basically just expressing gratefulness of being able to hike it after my major RA flare up this year. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring and support and the comments I have received. I am humbled by how many people have been touched by this story, how many still have this as a lifelong goal on their bucket list and how extremely lucky I have been to have seen it. The responses have shown me that we all are in need of a good story to motivate us and to keep us going. That we all carry each other home and that we are the co creators of our own such story. Keep shooting for the stars my friend, you have just witnessed that anything is possible.

Posted in Adventure, Mother nature, Snow

Tons of snow and an allergic reaction :(

We woke up to the first significant winter storm. Yesterday’s rain turned into snow late in the evening and this morning we were greeted by a winter wonderland. At least a foot (12”) of snow has fallen overnight and it’s the fluffy heavy kind, perfect for building a snowman or to go sledding and get the toboggan out. Yeah, we will see about that later, but in the meantime it’s nice and cozy on the inside. Still in bed I was looking at heavy covered pine trees this morning, and the views were sheer bliss, although the trees limbs were hanging low under the heavy weight of the snow. I felt a gratitude and gratefulness to be surrounded by warmth and not having to go out in this world that looked beautiful and peaceful. Seeing and enjoying it from the inside while it’s still snowing is one thing, going out and driving in it, is another. I bet there have been accidents galore this morning on the freeways and I know that some interstates along with mountain passes have been closed due to weather. We did had a rock / landslide near the burn scars from this summer and it will take awhile to unbury the road again. This time of year and just learning about the forecast and that snow was on the way used to stress me out, especially if I had to be to work early in the morning. Now I’m blessed to enjoy the serenity of being snowed in and not having to worry about all the other less experienced drivers who speed passed me, only to end up in the ditch down the road because of going too fast.

Cinnamon however, loves it and leaped out this morning, jumping like a little goat through the snow that is belly high for her. She always did love the snow and to her it was a welcome surprise to open the door this morning and discover the white, fluffy stuff. She has tons of energy in the cooler temperatures which don’t bother her one bit and snow brings out her feisty side, which in actuality is seen daily. Snow or not, she is a happy dog with a slight identity crises believing she is human. I noticed what is probably an allergic reaction to her vaccine this morning and she has a blood filled, irritated looking bump / growth on the bottom of her chin. Of course, worried Mom, me, calls the vet right away but no appointment is available and is instructed to call again Wednesday morning for standby openings. In the meantime research suggests that it is not that uncommon for dogs to have a allergic reaction with vomiting, diarrhea, hives, rashes and face swelling to a vaccine and God knows that this little girl is super sensitive. As a home remedy I have given her some Antihistamine and hope that this blood filled zit looking nastiness will clear up and subside as nothing more than a reaction to her shots. She is eating her treats and is active which is a good thing since the article also mentions that in severe cases although rare in dogs, a anaphylactic response and even fatality can occur if not treated. You bet that my eyes are peeled to monitor this little human fur-child. In the meantime all is well and our fingers are crossed it stays this way.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

I’m not done yet

“I’m not done yet. In fact I’m just getting started. I had goals, I had ideas, I had so many plans for my life, and they all changed, over and over again. Sometimes that’s difficult and sometimes that’s a challenge, but most of the time it’s a gift, because sometimes the place you really needed to go in life was somewhere you would have never planned on your own.”

~Topher

How many of you relate? How many agree and can say “my story isn’t over yet?” Boy it takes hard work to get here doesn’t it, and even harder work to keep going. Chance accompanies us along the way and in fact changes us. We constantly reinvent ourselves, shedding old beliefs and values while adapting to new ones. Life is no picnic that’s for sure, but it is a journey and then again, everything worthwhile requires effort and a traveler willing of not arriving at a set destination.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

Getting lost

I remember the first time “getting lost” came up in a conversation. My words were taken literally, as if a horrible fate had happened to me. As if sympathy and understanding was called for. Yet for me it was merely a way of describing “to get away from it all.” Over the years “getting lost” has become an essential part of my life. I have come to enjoy my own company while leaving the noise behind. For me “getting lost” doesn’t always mean that I have to be myself and it’s wonderful if you can share the experience with a like minded soul, but I do enjoy my solace, no matter how compatible someone is. It packs a powerful meaning and I believe that sometimes we have to get lost in order to find what we are really seeking. To allow ourselves a chance to become completely still, without interruptions. Consciously or not.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are seeking, that something is missing, that something needs to be filled and replenished. But you will definitely feel it inside when you find it. When you are away from it all, and when you engage in activities that fuel your soul. You might feel a deep sigh, a tickle in your belly and lightness flooding through your veins. It’s like a coming home, a relief, something that has lifted the heaviness we often feel from day to day life.

Getting lost is a way of detoxing, of taking a break, a breather, a time out, a much needed rest from it all. You can find it in numerous ways, each unique to you and your own preferences. Perhaps you are getting lost in reading a book, taking a bath, a stroll in nature, watching a movie, in music, the performing arts and the creation process. It doesn’t require a full day commitment and even small doses per day, as much you can set aside for yourself will show significant benefits in your mood and overall well being.

Getting lost requires self love, awareness, commitment and prioritization, knowing and believing that you are worth it to take that time out from your hectic day. That it is essential for your well being, and that it is a priority. Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves. At least it was the case for me. It makes me smile now and sometimes all it takes is a couple of minutes, chilling in the hammock, watching the clouds go by and taking a deep breath of appreciation and gratitude. I am addicted to the feeling as if it was a potent drug that keeps calling me back for another high. Here is another perspective from Jay Woodman on the topic of getting lost.

“Life is a repeated cycle of getting lost and then finding yourself again. There are smaller cycles within that cycle where you get lost to a smaller degree and then remember yourself again. Sometimes you do it to yourself on purpose, consciously or unconsciously. Every time you get lost, it is so that you can learn something or experience something from a different perspective.”

And by doing so your life is enriched, setting yourself up with the tools and trades, the knowledge, wisdom and understanding, recognizing you have to stay flexible and sway with the ever changing challenges of life. Only then can you become unbreakable and bend in the storms. So see, in my book, “getting lost” voluntarily or involuntarily is an essential part of life and not that bad at all, even if it sounds a bit scary. Trust and have faith that all will be well and that it is a lesson you need to learn in your journey as a lifelong learner.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Mother nature

Natural Stone Arch

Just a little picture for you today from my recent get away trip with the Cinnamon Girl. While I have been to this area numerous times in the past, it was during this trip that we discovered something new, a natural stone arch we never saw before. Just goes to show you that you can visit a place a number of times, and are still likely to see something new each time you go. Also different times a year, different seasons and cloudy days vs sunny days, all can pose an impact and might provide the feeling of seeing something for the very times, even though you’ve been here before.

Here is a picture of us en-route to have a closer look to the arch and to take some additional pictures. It wasn’t long after finding the arch that we discovered the little dome shaped cave that provided a good resting spot and escape from the sun. It’s times like these that turn into precious memories and have us look back remembering with a smile on our face.

Posted in Adventure, Mother nature, My story

Cliff dwelling practice

I finally made it and got away for a few days. It wasn’t as if it was planned, and it just so happened. During the elimination of backyard weeds, it was decided to better remove Cinnamon for a few days to keep her safe. I felt guilty and downright panicky, thinking of the deadline ahead and that I couldn’t really afford to take a break. I still still think I couldn’t, but I ran myself right into the ground. Life and the current situation was taken a toll, rightfully and understandably so. Eventually my body weighed in and like so many times before, it told me differently. It made me aware that on a physical and emotional level, I needed this break perhaps more than I realized. It was downright essential and although I know this, a few shreds of guilt and concerns still remain.

This would be Cinnamon’s second overnight trip and I remember being in a great deal of pain during the first one, which in turn made it tough for me. I was happy that despite of everything, this trip turned out better and it provided that much needed break. Cinnamon had a blast and activities were kept minimal to give myself a chance to heal. Keeping stress and agitations at bay, the pain also minimized and I handled things better than expected. As always the time flew and before I knew it, it was time to return. My heart grew heavier knowing and anticipating what was awaiting me, but that’s for another day, let alone it being my confirmation and validation that the old life was killing me.

In the meantime and to describe the above picture, we went to one of my favorite places. If you’ve seen Iron Man than you know the backdrop and the area called the Alabama Hills. It was cool as always but it getting warm and Cinnamon struggles with the heat. I was on the lookout for a shady spot to give her a break (me too) as I spotted two little caves in the rock formations. The first was too small and onward to the second one which was slightly behind the first, it was. This one was like a little dome tent, enough for a few people, gear and a dog. It was clean and without any creepy crawlers, such as snakes or spiders. It was big enough to sit upright or to lay down and take a nap which we all did. Shielded from the sun and later the wind, this was our view as we watched a storm roll in over the Sierra mountains and Mount Whitney. It was very serene and peaceful, exactly what I needed and I will definitely go and revisited this beautiful cliff dwelling home again and again, over and over. I’m sure others have seen it, but it looked untouched and without disturbance. Always a bonus when restoring nature’s beauty and leaving it exactly how it was meant to be.

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Health

Cinnamon’s first big adventure

It was the middle of February and Cinnamon’s first big adventure. It included two overnighters and her first time being away from home. Many surprises would be in store. For her, as well as me, and neither one of us knew how this would go down.

It turned out that Cinnamon is a born adventure pup and loved every minute of it. She took over the small cabin and was instantly at home. She even had her own twin size bed that she made use out of it occasionally, lounging and restring, just not at night. At night she he to be curled up and close to Mom, leaving me to fight for space and covers.

Overall she did great. Patiently sleeping in the car from destination to destination, exploring to her hearts content and you could tell that she enjoyed every minute of it. It was heart warming to see and my heart was full although the trip for me was a struggle. I wasn’t well on the health front and lingering storms didn’t help matters. You could sum it up in the sense that I was in one of my most favorite and scenic places, but I was fighting through every step. Regardless of how much I love her and wanted to share this time with her, it wasn’t a time to relax for me.

It’s like having a child I imagine. A little one that requires attention and supervision around the clock. Mornings were a big struggle, and where I usually throw on my robe at home, able to let her escape into a fenced yard, this was in no way possible here. I had to hurry and get fully dressed to enter a winter wonderland so she could do her business. One of the problems is the morning stiffness, and I found myself working through the pain of forcing non functioning, non cooperative limbs because of being afraid the toddler couldn’t hold it until I was in full gear. It was difficult, but there was no doubt about how much she loved being out there. How much she relates to Mother Nature and taking time to smell the roses. How much she fits in with us and loves the things we do. She is nearly 40 lbs now and stronger than ever. We are still monitoring her Allergies and hair loss and things have gotten much better. Now it’s my turn to get better and stronger once more. Fingers crossed because this little bundle of joy has a ton of energy and demands quite a bit while bringing a joy like no other.

Posted in Adventure, Hiking, Mother nature

The Descent from Cathedral Lakes

It was time to tackle the descent from Cathedral Lakes to allow plenty of time without having to rush. It’s crazy how much quicker it goes going downhill, but I still find the constant pounding on the knees and putting the brakes on just, if not more strenuous as climbing.

Nearby thunder was still in the air and could be heard off and on. It was time to go and I enjoyed the play of watching the clouds make way to bright sunshine, only to cast shadows on the peaks a few seconds later. I surely gotten my fix watching the “Puffies” dance that day.

This picture was taken on the way down and you can see Tenaya Lake in the distance. The non-existing trail continues over the even steeper drop off in the middle of the picture. Yeah it’s so steep it literally vanishes and looks like there is nothing more but cliff. Most of it had to be tackled in switchback motion, a zigzag pattern to ease the incline or drop off. My trusty hiking stick always by my side and often bracing myself.

In the end I made it of course. I’m here to tell the story. It was surely an adventure that left me feeling accomplished and grateful to have finally seen this place. It would become one of those hikes throughout the summer, strenuous and in high elevation, but ultimately conditioning me into better shape. I earned it and I am grateful for the memories.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

Mad Max – Desert style

Mad Max – desert style, or life, adventure, and it’s meaning.

When was your last adventure?

For me it was during a little road trip in the desert, with no schedules and no particular destination. Dirty and sweaty, windows rolled down, cruising the endless road stretched out in front of me for as far as the eye could see. Mile after mile passing by with no other vehicle in sight. Mountains, painted rock on both sides, wild horses, tumbleweeds, canyons, and a whole lot of open land, a whole lot of nothing. For sure no water or at the best very scarce. A gas station, well hidden that I never found or needed, where I was instructed beforehand in case it’d be closed. “Just go across the road to the bar, they can call the owner of the gas station to come and open it if you need gas.” Welcome to the wildest of the Wild West.

Luckily I had a tank full of gas and enough water to last. Drinking was a whole other adventure and it was so hot you didn’t actually mind spilling a little water down your throat, feeling it run down your chest, mixing with the dust. I couldn’t help myself feeling like I was straight out of a Mad Max movie conquering the “barren wasteland”, I mean the desert of my home state Nevada. And it was in that moment that I smiled and envisioned a Mohawk skull as a hood ornament for the Jeep. If a car did come and was visible way up on the horizon, it was like gripping the wheel and driving into battle on fury road.

Last stop before heading back to civilization, climbing a steep canyon wall, meeting a cool stripped tail lizard on the way up, and an awesome view and shadow reflection of myself, on top of the world. Bottom screen – middle.

I share this story wondering if you ever noticed how many of us rush around in dizzying speeds? Serious, unable to play, straight faced, meaning business all the time. Unable to sit still for a moment as if afraid to miss something. And in doing so we miss the whole meaning of life and what it’s all about. We forget that success is not measured by our possessions and achievements, but that it is about our experiences and moments like these.

Every day a new chase begins, rushing to catch a little more of the same old. Is it our social conditioning, to make ends meet, because our workload is too much that we’ve forgotten how to relax, how to be still and just be, or perhaps is it that we are frantically chasing the meaning and the purpose of our life? I think sooner or later you might have to answer that question for yourself. What do you think, do you chase? If you are, then please consider this.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

-Alan W. Watts

You don’t need a desert adventure to feel alive, but for me it was one of those moments and a reminder to put this quote into perspective.