Friday, July 28, 2017

July Trail Work

I'm posting few trail work entries this month -- trail work is good for the soul, it's good for the hiker, it's good for everyone.  If you live anywhere near a trail, volunteer with the local crew from time to time.  You'll be glad you did.

July 22, 2017 -- Six hours with Trailwrights, crushing rock (to help build stone steps) and digging drainage ditches on the Pemigewasset Trail

Alex, Sage, and I were fortunate to work with Trailwrights again this month.  Our schedules don't usually coincide with their trailwork weekends, so we were happy we were able to join them.  We always learn so much from them!  If you would like to learn some great trail building/maintaining skills, donate a weekend to them sometime!  Their website is here.



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The girls and I are the official adopters of the Alpine Garden Trail (we are now certified in Alpine Trail Maintenance).  Sage and I got in a few hours of brushing (trimming overgrown vegetation) last June, and Alex and I were able to put in a couple days work this month.

July 25, 2017 -- Six hours -- Scree walls, one cairn, and brushing

Since we are trail adopters, and since we were doing at least two days of trail work in a row, Alex and I decided to stay at Camp Dodge.  Lodging there is free if you are working on your trail.  I checked in with Becky the morning of the 25th and then, following Becky's directions, headed to the under-17 girls' bunk room with Alex.  Both of stayed in that room for the evening; the teen group that was working that week was out until Friday, so Alex and I had the place to ourselves (if I had not been with Alex then I would have been in the adult bunk room).


After we had settled in, I drove up the Auto Road to the "Cow Pasture," the parking area before the summit.  The views were less than stellar, which was fine with me since we needed to see how visible the cairns were on our trail in the fog.



Unfortunately, the fog lifted as we headed down to the Alpine Garden Trail.


We may put in scree walls here...will discuss with our regional supervisor and ask for his thoughts.


It took a while for us to walk the mile+ trail to the intersection with Tuckerman Ravine Trail.  Along the way, we righted fallen rocks on existing stone walls and brushed back krummholz that threatened to trip up hikers or poke them in the eyes.

Lunch break...


Our view during lunch...


On the way back, we noticed a cairn would be useful on a rock slide that crosses the trail.  In heavy fog, a hiker might veer too far up or down the slide and never see the cairn across the way.  We therefore built a cairn right by where the trail is supposed to go so, even in fog, a hiker should hopefully be able to find his/her way.





Alex tested the strength and sturdiness of the cairn when we were finished.  It held up well.





Before we returned to the car, we cleaned up a few areas we had missed earlier...




July 26, 2017 -- Seven hours -- minor scree wall reinforcements and rebuilding four cairns from the base up.

Today was all about rebuilding as many cairns as we could physically handle in one day.

We drove up and, right before we headed to our trail, our friend Samantha pulled in next to us.  She was training a member of the OBS Museum that morning and had stopped to say hello.  It was good to see her again.



Down we went to our trail...here's the first cairn, before we rebuilt it....




During the rebuilding process...







Selfie when we were finished...


Finished product!




Second cairn before we rebuilt it...


After we rebuilt it....!



Third cairn, "before" picture...



"After" photo...I didn't get a close-up of this one for some reason...


Fourth cairn, "before" photo...


And "after" photo! --


We were worn out by now...moving all those rocks is tiring.  We had also reinforced existing scree walls as we came across ones that needed touch-ups.  We called it a day after seven hours of work and headed home.



Saturday, July 8, 2017

GraniteGals is on iTunes, Sage on Jackson in June, and general summer notes

The GraniteGals podcast is now available for subscription on iTunes!  Once you're subscribed, each new episode will automatically download to your listening device every two weeks.

Also -- Sage and I hiked Jackson the same day Alex hiked it solo (she took a mile or two head start).  I just realized there is no record of Sage having hiked that peak that day, since Alex posted her trip report which, naturally, just had her in it.  Here are some photos of Sage's day on Jackson (June 22, 2017):






I can't wait until Sage is old enough to have her own Facebook page and blog!  Poor kid will finally have a regular chance to represent herself, instead of always being the plus 1 on my blog or Alex's blog.  :)

It's summertime and the girls are here, there, and yonder.  Both Alex and Sage have full lives that include, but are not limited to, a lot of hiking.  Alex is at CTY summer camp in Lancaster right now, and Sage has two local day camps soon.  Sage and I will hike a 4K tomorrow (she'll post the trip report on Alex's blog) or Monday, and Alex won't be around to hike a 4K again until late July.  Both girls are on track to complete the Grid before they leave for college, so thankfully there is no feeling like they "have" to smush in a million hikes in between camps and travel.  I never want them to feel like they "have" to hike -- if that were to ever happen then the fun would cease to exist.

Before the girls' academic courses begin for 2017-2018, we will thru-hike the Cohos Trail.  No highpointing for us this year since we need guides for the few mountains we have left and guides cost money....I need to save up for a couple years.  We will greatly enjoy our local mountains and trails in the meantime, though.  The Cohos Trail is a wonderful example of a gorgeous and challenging hike right in our own backyard -- we look forward to walking this wild network of trails all the way to Canada.  I'll post a day-by-day account of our adventures when we return in late August.

My DVT situation seems quite manageable.  I am back to hiking whatever I want with no pain or swelling.  I am grateful for my love of hiking and for modern medicine; my life expectancy is quite normal thanks to both.

Alex will resume posting on her blog when she resumes 4K hiking later this summer, and Sage is keeping everything going with GraniteGals while her sister is away.

Life is good.  The girls are growing and the time when they will both be leaving for college is drawing closer and closer.  I have four years left with Alex and six with Sage.  After that, I hope to embark on a brand new set of adventures -- this time, just with myself -- out there in the big and wonderful world of trails and peaks.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

New GraniteGals podcast, and quick update on the DVT

The girls were away with their dad for a few weeks and they didn't have GraniteGals interviews lined up quite right to keep their every-two-weeks timing going.  To fill a gap this week, so they could produce an episode on time, they interviewed me.  :)  Here's the link to their GraniteGals site -- you can download the latest mp3 there.  They are still waiting for the blog host transfer to go through...it can take up to 15 days and today is day 14...so hopefully that will all be figured out soon.  In the meantime, you can download the mp3s of the interviews off the GraniteGals website.

It's been about a month since I found out I have another blood clot.  I have worked hard at rehabbing my leg to optimize blood flow, and so far all is well.  I've been back at 4Ks for two weeks now.  I am now right back to where I was before in terms of hiking ability, and I've taken off about 7 or 8 pounds.  The major difference is that when I am sitting, my leg needs to be up, and I need to take more breaks when I am driving for more than an hour at a time.  Things could be worse.

The girls will do a 4K hike or two this week; keep an eye on Alex's blog, alexinthewhitemountains, for the trip reports.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New episode of GraniteGals -- Paula Santucci

The girls have a new episode of GraniteGals ready.  This episode features Paula Santucci, creator of the NH Women's Hiking Group.  It's a great interview -- access it here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Union of Concerned Scientists

Happy and honored to see Alex and Sage featured in the Union of Concerned Scientists' current issue of Catalyst (Volume 16, Spring 2017).  Click here to read not only about Alex and Sage, but about many other determined folks raising money for UCS!  UCS is an important organization that is dedicated to securing a clean and healthy environment for our future generations.  Please donate to UCS here.




Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Note on Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) aka Blood Clots

This morning, bringing my current blood clot hiking
(I am now past the significant risk for pulmonary embolism)

DVT, Part Two. 

For those of you with a history of blood clots and certain genetic mutations, I include this personal post as a way to show that even someone with vein damage and recurring Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can get out there and keep going.

DVT, Part One was when I was pregnant with Alex.  To make a long story short, I developed an extensive blood clot in the deep veins of my left leg and pelvic region when I was pregnant with Alex in late 2002.  Turns out I have a genetic mutation (MTHFR...C667t to be specific) that makes my body susceptible to blood clots and cancer.  My veins eventually recovered, but with permanent damage in my left pelvic area.  That damage hasn't stopped me from doing anything though, as one can plainly see from my blog.

Part Two...But Not Really came in 2013, right before we did the Camino de Santiago.  A technician in a local hospital misdiagnosed the permanent vein damage in my left pelvic area as another blood clot.  That hospital put me on a regimen of warfarin, etc....and then I saw my specialist in Boston who did more testing and told me no, that was not a blood clot, that was just leftover damage from 2002/2003.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.  Suddenly, in spite of my fairly active lifestyle, I felt a familiar pain in my left calf which increased as the hours and days went by.  I went to the hospital (different one from 2013!), told them I was sure I had a blood clot, and was told by the excellent ultrasound technician that yes, he could see I have a new clot (and he could see the old damage in my pelvic region, which is in a different section of my veins from this new clot).

I am now on what will likely be a lifelong regimen of a new-to-me drug called Eliquis.  I like this new drug -- it's just a pill, no hospital visits or shots needed.  I can also drink one alcoholic beverage every 24 hours and eat whatever I like.  Hooray for advances in medical research and new drugs!

I have already built my leg strength back up over the past week by hiking increasing distances up a local mountain every single day.  The first day was painful and I could barely walk to the trailhead.  I kept at it and increased my mileage a little each day until, this morning, I was able to do the entire mountain loop hike, ledges, scrambles, and all (6.2 miles if you include the walk to and from the trailhead from my home).  By the time the girls get back from their vacation with their dad in two weeks, I should be more than ready to tackle Four Thousand Footers with them again.  I have also lost four pounds in the past week, since I now feel the need to get rid of all excess body fat.  This is not a vanity thing as I am 46 years old and past the point of giving a damn what I look like.  It's about optimizing circulation; being as fit as possible is good for my leg.

I am not a doctor, so if you are reading this and you have a blood clot and/or are trying to get your leg back in shape, consult with your medical professionals.  I will be so bold, however, as to say that you need to get back out there and do what you love to do, in the way you and your doctor see fit.  Don't stay home and wallow or fret or give up.  Find your motivation and, when the doctor says it's okay, fight through the discomfort and pain and, little by little, more and more each day, build yourself back up.  Otherwise, what?  I have too many trails I want to hike, with and without the girls.  My entire future involves hiking as much as possible.  In other words, there's no way a DVT will prevent me from doing exactly what I want to do.

Another photo from today

Yet another one.  I can't possibly be expected to stay away from sights like this.

So that's the scoop.  Besides that, all is well in our world.  The girls will have another episode of GraniteGals out in a week, and then we will resume hiking 4Ks for the Grid in mid-June.  We are also thru-hiking something in August, but instead of announcing that hike beforehand, I'll let Alex and Sage talk about it when we get back.  It will be an adventure...it always is.  Life is good.

Hope everyone out there has a fantastic holiday weekend.