Monday, June 26, 2017

Kennedy Meadows North

Here it is, late September and a great deal has happened since I last wrote in this blog. Aside from the composting toilet, which BTW is working out fabulously, all I've been doing is physical therapy and finally, yesterday, I was cleared to do a short hike. Three miles on flat ground but I couldn't have been happier. All things considered I did pretty well. It appears two months of sloth didn't completely take away all my conditioning. For which I am grateful. 

Up until three weeks ago I'd been walking with a cane due to pain on weight bearing but that's all behind me now and my exercises are specificly designed to strengthen the muscles on the outside of my hip. Apparently I had a major muscle imbalance thing going on which is why my femor sorta slid around when put under a certain kind of pressure. Mind you this is what the PT said but it makes sense to me. I'll go with her idea. Especially since there is something I can do about it which is way better than just feeling depressed about being injured. So, maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get back out there and get some PCT miles in next season. Still, I did manage to hike 195 miles this summer, which isn't too bad. Just not the 500 I had planned for. Next year. 

So why the heck am I at Kennedy Meadows? Well, I had sent food/resupply boxes out with the plan of hiking in to pick them up. That didn't happen so I'm on a drive-about, picking up three boxes at three different places...KM being #1 on the list. Tomorrow I'll gather up two more boxes and on Friday I'm headed to a conference in Nevada City. The ALDHA (American Long Distance Hiking Association) West has its yearly event somewhere along the west coast and this year I'm finally gonna get to go! I am quite excited, even though I feel a bit shy as I won't know all that many people there. I'm sure I'll survive. 

This afternoon I met three PCT hikers on the porch at KM. One young woman is heading north and will finish her hike, having jumped around a bit, at Echo Lake near Tahoe.  The other two had been off the trail for 4.5 months, one of them having broken a leg, having just  recently been cleared to hike again. Holy frijoles! Hiking can be a tad bit dicy, yes? But she was back at it and that makes me cheerful. The twosome were probably in their fifties, so they weren't spring chickens. It is hard to give up the idea of thru hiking but it's also liberating on one level. Being a *BASHER is a-ok with me. 

*BASHER. Bad ass section hiker. 

Kennedy Meadows North

Here it is, late September and a great deal has happened since I last wrote in this blog. Aside from the composting toilet, which BTW is working out fabulously, all I've been doing is physical therapy and finally, yesterday, I was cleared to do a short hike. Three miles on flat ground but I couldn't have been happier. All things considered I did pretty well. It appears two months of sloth didn't completely take away all my conditioning. For which I am grateful. 

Up until three weeks ago I'd been walking with a cane due to pain on weight bearing but that's all behind me now and my exercises are specificly designed to strengthen the muscles on the outside of my hip. Apparently I had a major muscle imbalance thing going on which is why my femor sorta slid around when put under a certain kind of pressure. Mind you this is what the PT said but it makes sense to me. I'll go with her idea. Especially since there is something I can do about it which is way better than just feeling depressed about being injured. So, maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get back out there and get some PCT miles in next season. Still, I did manage to hike 195 miles this summer, which isn't too bad. Just not the 500 I had planned for. Next year. 

So why the heck am I at Kennedy Meadows? Well, I had sent food/resupply boxes out with the plan of hiking in to pick them up. That didn't happen so I'm on a drive-about, picking up three boxes at three different places...KM being #1 on the list. Tomorrow I'll gather up two more boxes and on Friday I'm headed to a conference in Nevada City. The ALDHA (American Long Distance Hiking Association) West has its yearly event somewhere along the west coast and this year I'm finally gonna get to go! I am quite excited, even though I feel a bit shy as I won't know all that many people there. I'm sure I'll survive. 

This afternoon I met three PCT hikers on the porch at KM. One young woman is heading north and will finish her hike, having jumped around a bit, at Echo Lake near Tahoe.  The other two had been off the trail for 4.5 months, one of them having broken a leg, having just  recently been cleared to hike again. Holy frijoles! Hiking can be a tad bit dicy, yes? But she was back at it and that makes me cheerful. The twosome were probably in their fifties, so they weren't spring chickens. It is hard to give up the idea of thru hiking but it's also liberating on one level. Being a *BASHER is a-ok with me. 

*BASHER. Bad ass section hiker. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Composting Toilet

What? Here's how this connects to my current situation. But first a bit of history. 
For more than a decade now I have been using a composting system popularized by the book "Humanure Handbook" which is a very low tech and inexpensive way to deal with human excrement. It is simply a bucket system that gets dumped into a dedicated compost pile and is monitored closely to ensure high temperatures are achieved in order to minimize any chance of transmitting disease, etc. This system is incredibly effective and uses no water, other than rinsing out the bucket after dumping the contents. The downsides for me have been finding appropriate sawdust as the cover material (no redwood or eucalyptus allowed) and the effort involved in dumping heavy buckets when the pile gets very high. Like it is now. 

Over the past couple of years I've been looking at commercial composting toilets, aware that at some future point I might not want to be handling heavy buckets.  Most of them are large, use lots of electricity for fans and heating elements and some even use water for flushing. Nothing I would want to get into, especially since my current system uses no water or electricity. 
A while back I came across this system which was originally designed for marine environments. It's small, uses no water and only a minuscule amount of electricity, to run a small computer fan. It is a urine separator, which means the liquids and solids are kept away from each other. This greatly reduces smells and it's way easier to empty a small container of pee than a 5 gallon bucket of mixed materials and cover material.  The main chamber only gets dumped about every month. Or so I'm guessing since I haven't had to dump it yet.

After coming home from my hike I just decided to suck it up and order the above mentioned commercial composting toilet. I realized I wouldn't be able to climb up high to be able to dump those heavy buckets for quite a while at least. It was time. 
In box
Innards
Assembled

Unfortunately I need to do a small remodel in my bathroom before can set it up inside so I've installed it outside on my screened porch until I'm able to set it up inside. It's actually quite nice!

So that's the story of Shelly's Hike and the CompostToilet.  


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Physical Therapy 101

Here we go. It's been 10 days since I started hobbling and 8 days since I arrived home. I've previously listed the litany of actions I've been taking and four days ago I started taking muscle relaxers, and I am taking 600mg of vitamin I, 3x a day. If it looks like I'm throwing everything at this one, you'd be correct. The next step is physical therapy which starts this afternoon. 

I wish I understood what I did to make this happen. Of course it is also possible that this happened because of something I didn't do. Like stretching😱

It's always good to have people around that remember your previous injuries better than you do. My Chiropractor Pat reminded me that I've had difficulty with this hip before. True enough. My right hip has been stiff and less flexible than my left for decades now. My attempts at addressing this have been half hearted at best, and as soon as the pain would recede, I'd forget all about it and slack off. It's almost as if I think I'm still 30 and can just barrel through a physical weakness with stubborn forward motion and without addressing the weakness in a determined manner. It seems likely this is the case here. 

Dr Pat said to me yesterday, and I am paraphrasing here, If you still want to be able to do long distance backpacking you are probably going to have to figure out how to protect and strengthen your hip. This might be the outcome of not addressing your hip inflexibility and likely muscle imbalance.  Or words to that affect. I guess she is probably correct. But will I do it? I might very well be too lazy. Or stubborn. Or in denial. Well, I hope not. 

Post appointment update

According to my Chiropractor and PT, my femur is not sitting correctly in my hip socket, which is why the muscles spasm when the leg is in some positions but not in others. It also makes sense out of something that made no sense. So I have exercises to do to gently nudge the femur back into its rightful place. No stretching or strengthening until it's back in place. 

No question I'm off the trail for a fair bit of time. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Santa Cruz, four days later

Hello all. It's been a tumultuous last few days, filled with frustration, confusion, sadness and eventually, relief. 

Frustration because of my inability to walk without pain, confusion because I don't really know how to effectively change the situation, sadness because once again I've had to pull off the trail due to injury. I never seem to get this long distance thing right. 

So what have I done? Two chiropractic appointments, MD appointment, X-rays to rule out stress fracture, deep tissue massage and now muscle relaxers to try and loosen up my bound hip. 💰💰💰The good news in all of this is that my bones, hip and lumbar spine are fine, no trouble there. There seems to be consensus that my IT band, if involved, is secondary to the problem. It looks like the muscles surrounding my hip are just spasmodic and don't want to release their grip. 

So what to do? Take muscle relaxers, stretch and apply heat/ice. Hope for the best. Walk as I'm able but on even surfaces without any difficult up/down stuff. Try to loosen up my hips and back. Hope for the best. But, it looks like I won't be back on the trail any time soon. 😟

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Santa Cruz

My friends came through again. Last night I made arrangements with Kat, one of my land mates, for her to drive to Chico and pick me up and take me home. She left home at 5:30ish and got to Chico before 10, throwing my pack in her car and turning around to head home. We stopped for lunch, and still made it home before 3 and afternoon traffic. 

It is amazing to me that yesterday morning I woke up in the wilderness and this afternoon I'm laying in my own bed with my knees up, ice on my hip and a cat on my lap. 
Mija

Yesterday I was worried and afraid of what would happen, about how I would get home, and today, by the kindness and goodwill of people, some I didn't even know, I am home safe and sound. I am reminded that most people are kind and generous and that our televisions and/or the media at large make us suspicious and afraid of one another. It doesn't have to be this way. 

Injury Update. I slept wonderfully last night, though when I woke up I was still in pain on putting weight on my leg, but the pain was less acute. And if I placed my weight correctly no shooting pain. So I've been walking very slowly and deliberately.  One of the things I was reminded of last night was to make sure I took the ibuprofen every four hours without fail. (I was being haphazard about taking them) By this afternoon I think they are definitely helping as I'm able to walk (slowly) without major discomfort. Plus the icing and cat😜

This morning I texted my friend Lorna to tell her about my situation. She had planned to meet me in South Lake Tahoe and finish out the last two weeks with me. I was really afraid she had already purchased her plane ticket from Washington but I was pleased, and greatly relieved, to find she hadn't yet bought the ticket. That takes some of the pressure off me to hurry along this treatment. I don't want to be done for the season but I imagine I want to be completely relieved of sx before I get back bout there. 
Last years fun. The morning after the rains. 



Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 18 - Chico

What a drag. My leg didn't get better over night, in fact it got worse. I managed to break camp using my sticks as support but when I got ready to walk down to where the water is I realized I did't want to put my pack on and walk on such uneven terrain. Every step is made carefully and if I don't step just right I get shooting pain in my hip. 

Ken, the nice guy with the sat phone, texted Pipers Mom to see about getting some assistance but she is too far away from my location. She gave me another number to call of someone named Casey who is near Belden, which is closer to my location, I think. Ken sent a text to him but when he and his two sons left Cold Springs for parts south, he hadn't received a message back. So I am sitting/standing on the road in the hopes that Casey will come by, or any other human being in a vehicle so I can get a ride to a town somewhere. It's clear I can't walk far with a pack on. 
Around 9:30am a truck drove up that turned out to be four wonderful folks from the Forest Service. They apologized that they couldn't give me a ride (liability issues) but tried to call a Ranger to come and get me to transport me to to Chester. The official on the phone said they would only send an ambulance so I declined. The FS driver was wonderful and said if I still needed a ride after work she'd come back up in her own vehicle and bring me to town. Very kind. So it seems as though I won't be stuck up here for ever. 
Amazingly enough by about 10:30 two vehicles drove up and I flagged them down. To make a very long story short the kind folks driving a camper drove me to Chico, where they were going anyway, along their way to Sacramento to visit family. They had been up in the high country fishing and camping for a week. So they dropped me off at yet another Best Western where I got a room for the night. Now all I have to do is get home.