Found my people

When we lived in Abu Dhabi, I took my daughters to Comic Con in Dubai. They were so stoked to be there among all the cosplayers. Morgan looked over the crowd and said, “I found my people”.

Last year, David and I went to a Halloween party at a local restaurant. We got dressed up and expected to see some people we might know. We went with our son. When we got there, we saw a handful of people that we knew but they were dressed up and did not stay long. After what seemed like a very short time, it became apparent that we would be one of the few people our age to stay. We may have been the oldest people there. Our son had a great time as much of the crowd was his age or they were current or former coworkers. We left that party realizing that we needed to pursue social outlets that suited our interests.

We needed to find our people.

So I’ve joined the North Country Trail – Allegheny National Forest branch on hike. David and I Spent a day working with them. For this volunteer effort, we were invited to a dinner and campout with the other volunteers. David had to work, unfortunately. So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went out on my own.

We met at the NCT trail access point at Cherry Run, just outside Sheffield, Pennsylvania. It’s the heart of the Allegheny National Forest.

I had arrived a bit late because I needed to get my daughter settled for her homecoming evening. I was grateful to my brother to see her shuttled back home while I was out.

I got there just as they were about to serve dinner. There was about 30 people there! Not everyone stayed overnight though.

I ran into a friend I had made outside of the group. Her name is Debbie. I had actually just seen her at The Homecoming Football game just the night before.

It was fun hearing all the trail and hiking stories. There are famous rock landmarks and random bits of rope known to have been mistaken for snakes.

As the sun went down, I decided to take advantage of the sunlight and set up my tent.

It was my first night in a tent alone. Falling asleep to the sounds of the creek splashing over rocks was just heavenly. I slept soundly.

When I awoke, I dreaded coming out from my sleeping bag. It was the call of nature that won out. The thought of coffee came in a close second.

It was obvious that this is a close knit group. I felt warmly welcomed regardless.

I found my people.


The story of my knee.

I am eternally optimistic every time I hurt myself that it will just be better tomorrow.  If I rest it.  If I exercise it.  If I avoid moving it a certain way.  If I just don’t do the thing I did when I hurt it and then it will be better.  That’s the story of my knee.

I fell in February.  I hyper-flexed my knee on ice and maintained my eternal optimism until April when it just would not get better.  I went to my primary care doctor who prescribed physical therapy and it did get better.  Therapy ended in June and I have progressively lost some of that progress.  My knee will feel great and I will go hiking or help my husband on the farm and run the tractor. But then, like the last several days since I had A work day with my man and then spend the next several days sitting on the couch.

Last month, I went for a long drive by myself.  When I got home and went to get out of the car, I could barely walk.  The next day, I was using my trekking poles to walk around the house.  This was the last straw to call a knee specialist.  I made the appointment in July for the first available appointment and that was today.

I’ve been through my fair share of medical procedures.  I just don’t want to go through anymore.  So, when I made the appointment for my knee, I started to think that maybe a needle of cortisol could be a good thing.  I dreaded the prospect of an MRI.  I think I have MRI phobia now.  I’ve had 7 MRI in the last 4.5 years.  When the specialist suggested a cortisone shot and/or an MRI… they both weighed the same on the “DREAD” scale.  I acquiesced to the shot and the MRI.  They said that I can go in feet first with this MRI so my head won’t be trapped inside.

Prepping for last weeks MRI of my head

The knee feels remarkably better with the shot.  There is some tenderness at the injection site.  But I can take a stride without pain and that’s a good thing.  The MRI is next Wednesday.  I hope it’s something definitive and fixable without surgery.  Surgery is so much higher on my “DREAD” scale.

A work day with my man

David and I joined the Allegheny National Forest branch of the North Country Trail for a work day. David and I went off to weed whack with another leader.

My husband David can weed whack for hours. Me? I hadn’t done it in years. I honestly didn’t think I was physically capable of it. But I was once again proven wrong and weed whacked as much as I was physically able to- which certainly wasn’t much. But as David reminded me, it was more than those who weren’t there.

It was exhausting work for me. Now it is 24 hours later and even thought I am tired and sore, I wish I was back in the woods.

Fishing at sunset

Fishing is a lot of fun when you actually catch fish. I didn’t catch any.

My son Matt and I went fishing in our kayaks last night. He caught a beautiful Walleye.

He went on to catch 7 more fish!

I tried my best. I have not gone fishing very often. I might be better with more practice.

I just loved watching the sunset. It was beautiful.

Recovery Day and an Anniversary

Yesterday’s hike still has me on a bit of an emotional high.  I came home and collapsed on the couch with pure joy and relief that I accomplished getting out there.

That was a mistake.

The longer I stayed on the couch, the more my muscles and joints tightened and got very sore.  I couldn’t move!!  I sat too long.  Stopping is a really bad idea for me.  I need to stay in motion.

I’ve fought plantar fasciitis off and on for the last 15+ years.  I didn’t have an issue with it for a long time.  But it’s flaring and this morning, it was bad.  I had to ice my heel for 15 minutes just to manage getting dressed.  This could be an issue with not stretching before my hike – and I won’t make that mistake again.  But it could also be a side-effect of growth hormone replacement.  I do hope that I won’t need a cortisone shot in my heel.  I’ve done that before and it’s not fun.

Two years ago today, I had an ovarian cyst that caused ovarian torsion.  It was white-hot-poker, lightening pain.  My son rushed me to the Women’s hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they stabilized me in anticipation of having surgery the next day.  When I had my surgery and they first drained the cyst, there was 5 LITERS of fluid drained!  I was fortunate that the surgery was accomplished laparoscopically. I unfortunately lost my ovary.  This cyst had been there a long time and I had no idea. When it was gone, it was like the stuffing was pulled out of me.  I could not sit myself up straight.  I could not get myself up out of bed.  Because of this, they ordered physical therapy.  I was in physical therapy for almost 5 months to rebuild my core.

As I have reflected on this today and took time to recover, my accomplishment yesterday is even more important.  I am really hiking back.

She believed she could, so she did!


I started.

As stated in my My first blog post, I have the plan to hike the North Country Trail (NCT) as it passes through the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) over the next 5 years. Well, today I joined a group associated with the Allegheny National Forest chapter of The North Country Trail Association for a hike. We met at a remote forest road access point. There were 3 representatives of the NCT group and 3 other ladies who had also never hiked before.

The trail was an old logging rail siding. It was broad and reasonably flat. It was such a comfortable trail that you could actually trust your feet not to trip up and look up at the beautiful forest surrounding us.

We hiked a little over a mile and it was relatively easy going. But I was starting to get a cramp in the top of my foot. We were told that we could stop any time if we needed to. So when we came to the shelter at Queens Creek, I decided to stay back. To my surprise, one of the coordinators stayed back with me. I get the sense that this is the protocol with the group and makes me even happier to have found such an accommodating group. With my health issues, it is not safe for me to hike alone.

img_4632This felt incredibly good to do.  I overslept and could have easily just blew this off.  I am so very proud that I did this.


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Tired Dog = Good Dog

My daughter Morgan and I took our pair of Bernese Mountain Dogs on a nice little hike through our woods.  I’d call it a “walk through our woods” if we didn’t have a 180′ hill to hike down and then back up again.  It’s a hike.

At the bottom of the hill is the headwaters of a creek – or, as a true Pennsylvanian would say – “a crick”. We hiked with the dogs to the creek.  For our oldest dog, Baldwin, it’s his favorite spot.  He’s not terribly fond of water.  But this time, he actually laid down in the water!  This was highly unusual for him.  He doesn’t have a sliver of retriever in him!  I think he reveled in his own ability to make this hike.  Baldwin had a hip replacement at the age of 18 months and was on strict physical restrictions since January.

The baby is Koda.  Koda is our 7-month-old puppy.  It was her first trip down the hill.  She didn’t know what to make of our path into the woods or what to do in the creek.  It was obvious that she copied Baldwin’s behavior of drinking and splashing in the creek.  She hiked down the hill rather timid and shy.  Her tail was between her legs.  But after playing and we headed back up the way we came, she had a spring in her step and her tail was wagging.

Morgan let me take Baldwin back up the hill.  It is so much easier to hike up a steep hill with a drafting dog pulling you up!  I enjoyed that!  This was a workout for Baldwin and I hope that he doesn’t wince tomorrow as he recovers from the hike.  He’s had a long road of recovery from his hip replacement. If he doesn’t wince, I think he’ll be ready for more hikes beyond our own property.