Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baaaad Dream!

Oh, man... I had some terrible dreams last night!

I woke up gasping after the first one, which was a typical weird dream. I was at the Dragon Boat races (which I'll blog about later). But something went terribly wrong, so Adam and my dad jumped into a boat -- I think it was an effort to save somebody's life, but I can't remember details... I do remember feeling a heightened sense of urgency and fear, though. While the guys did that, my mom and I set off on a different "mission", which was also very urgent. Again, I can't remember details, but we head away from the water. I wish I could remember what was all happening around us.

We found out a short while after leaving my dad and Adam that the boat tipped over in some rough water... maybe the "thing" that went terribly wrong was some sort of strange, sudden bad weather? Well, the boats tipped over in torrent waters, and both Adam and my dad drowned, and I was able to actually see them screaming and trying to stay afloat. They had on red life jackets, but couldn't stay above water. I don't know if something was pulling them under or what. But then it got quiet and I saw them both floating face down, and the water went calm. I was hysterically crying in my dream, almost hyperventilating when I found out, and I suddenly found myself all alone. I don't know where my mom went.

The next thing I remember is walking back to my apartment, alone, trying to decide what to do. I think I began to feel angry, and the only peace I could find was in the thought that I could put on my backpack and just disappear. Then I started to think about Adam and my dad and how much I already missed them, and that's when I woke up.

I rolled over and squeezed Adam so hard he probably missed a couple of breaths, even with his CPAP machine on... I was so glad to have woken up and realized it was all just a terrible dream.

Then I fell back asleep and had another one!!

This time I was backpacking. I was sharing a tent with a girl that I don't know. She had long, brown hair and braces, and was wearing a goofy blue and gray stocking cap that was kind of loose; almost falling off. We were laughing and talking about backpacking. I know that I wasn't really close to this person, in fact, I think we may have just met and were sharing a tent on our trip. We had just crawled inside to get some sleep and we were both kind of propped up on one elbow chatting. She looked at me as she shuffled through some of her bags and said, "I kept out these snacks in case we get hungry in the middle of the night."

I looked up at her and said in a surprisingly fun way, "You silly, we need to hang all the food, otherwise critters or bears can smell it and might try to get into the tent to get at it."

The fire was going outside, so you could see the glow from the flames. She looked up at me and we both kind of laughed, then we heard some twigs crack outside the tent. We both got stone-face and looked at each other with huge eyes and listened.

I started to see the shadow of a figure creep up the side of the tent behind my tent-mate. It stood taller and taller. Too tall for a raccoon, a wolf, or even a bear. I then realized it was the shadow of a person! Before I could think or say anything, the shadow's arm very slowly reached over, and the figure was holding a handgun! The shadow of the gun was pointed directly at the girl's head.

A second later, I heard shots fired off in the woods and flashes of light from the ends of gun barrels.

Then I woke up.

Every once in a while the image of that girl sitting in front of me, and the shadow of a person holding a gun to her head outside of our tent comes back into my mind and I get the shivers.

So, yeah... might be even a longer time before I get the courage to go solo backpacking. I always say I'm not that afraid of the bears, raccoons, wolves... whatever animals might be creeping around me at night... it's the strange people that I might not know how to deal with by myself that truly scare me. The chances of running into a weirdo in the middle of the woods is SO extremely rare, but after that dream, it's just gonna take a while to get that burnt image out of my brain! Ugh...

I hope for sweet dreams tonight. Rainbows, butterflies, waterfalls, rainbows, butterflies, waterfalls, rainbows, butterflies, waterfalls.............

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Visit from Hickory

Here's a picture of me, Hickory and my mom Friday night (9-12) camping on the Ice Age Trail. So many laughs were had while sharing stories from the hike... and a few Newcastles... which we were just fine carrying in and out of the woods!! :)

A quick recap -- when my mom and I hiked into Indiana on "Our Hike" across America on the American Discovery Trail in 2006, we met Hickory. He heard about us walking through his area from his wife, who was working at the local radio station at the time. Our story of walking from Ohio into Indiana is one of my very favorite stories from the hike... I'll have to get into that more some other time!

So Hickory got a ride out looking for us, and when he found us, he got dropped off and hiked with us that whole day. We immediately found that our sense of humor was similar... lots of pootin', tootin' and pooin' talk with many laughs to follow. :) As we parted ways that day, Hickory said, "I'll be seeing you ladies again! Maybe the mountains..." We thought, "Sure... we'll see!"

Well, when we started getting closer to Denver, Hickory called and said he was flying out to meet us near Georgetown, CO!! He had 2 weeks. We were very excited to have some company, and honestly, a bit of a distraction after a very mentally challenging Kansas and E. CO (although we LOVED it!!). We looked forward to hooking back up with him. Hickory has also section-hiked the Appalachian Trail, so we knew that there were going to be tons of fun stories for us all to share.

This is another fun story to share... so many stories from when Hickory hiked with us those 2 weeks! It was hard to say good-bye to him, but he was a great person to have. It was perfect timing for both mom and I. I was always pushing to stay on schedule, and mom was having a hard time acclimating. Hickory got me to relax somehow. I think one day he said something like, "Look around. You're in the Rocky Mountains. Slow down a little and enjoy it." I thought about that for a little bit and decided he was right. We did what we could each day, but tried not to rush (although I think I still did from time to time - hard habit to break!). He also helped my mom. When we hiked up steep mountain trails, he taught her to just go very slow and steady, even if it was nearly a crawl. And when she got really frustrated and tired, to cuss out as many cuss words as she could tie together in one sentence. And so my mom would hike up mountains shouting swearwords as she went that nobody could hear because we were in the middle of nowhere in the mountains! How wonderful a feeling that was!! And we all made it through the Rockies with smiles.

Hickory's Visit to Wisconsin
I picked up Hickory from the Appleton Airport on Tuesday. He was hoping to hook up with another hiking buddy and camp for a few days, but it wasn't able to work out for him. So while I worked through Thursday, he walked the streets of Oshkosh and checked the place out. I felt bad, wishing I could've taken some extra vacation time to attempt at keeping him entertained! But he didn't seem to have much of a problem keeping himself busy. He met up with his friend one day -- Little Engine -- a friend of his from the AT. It was super cool that he was able to visit with her and her family for a little bit.

On Thursday night we went to Oblio's with some of my friends from work. Oblio's is our usual meeting place for Friday night Happy Hour. Since Hickory and I had plans to head to Phillips to hook up with my mom and dad for the weekend, we had to make Thursday a Friday... :)

Friday morning we got up and were very lazy getting going, but eventually got packed up and hit the road towards Phillips. I don't think I've ever thrown my backpack together so quickly! I was still recovering from the fundraiser weekend before, so I didn't really have a lot of time to work out the details of Hickory's visit like I wished I would have. So I forgot my hiking boots! Just another thing to work around, I guess...

We got to my parent's house in Phillips where mom was anxiously waiting on the porch for us to arrive. Hickory and mom had a welcome hug, and we started to pack our stuff up for a short backpacking trek on the Ice Age Trail. We drove into town and introduced Hickory to my dad and had lunch... well, appetizers and a beer... close enough, right!? Then we head towards our trailhead. We hiked in kind of late. It was JUST getting dark when we arrived at our primitive campsite for the night. We set up tents, got out some Newcastle beers we carried in with us, started a fire, and began the reminiscing and stupid-talk.

Snippets of conversations Friday night at camp:
"Poopmud" -- a term we created related to "going" in the woods after digging a cathole with a trowel. We thought it was genius and extremely funny! Every time anyone mentioned it, we all busted a gut.

"Kangabar" -- mom's attempt at saying "candy bar" after a couple of drinks. I still laugh when I say it to myself.

"Bears don't like mustard." -- What was said when we realized we didn't hang the mustard with the rest of the food. I think this phrase is said every backpacking trip by someone... after the food is hung, you realize you forgot to put something in there... you just say, "Bears don't like [insert item here]." And that makes it safe. :)

"Red for Sasquatch" -- My mom went on a Sasquatch scouting trip last year... she's not a Bigfoot hunter, but was invited to camp in the woods and night hike with headlamps and decided it would be an unforgettable experience... and it sounds like it was! They didn't see Bigfoot, though... Anyway, they night hiked with red headlamps because Sasquatch runs away from the white light or something. So whenever she turned on her headlamp, the first setting was a red light, and she repeatedly said, "Red for Sasquatch," and we'd all crack up.

"Weeree" -- It means "reread" when words just aren't coming out right.

"Yuki un ai" -- I have no idea what this means. Mom said it to me after we crawled in the tent. I think we were so distracted laughing at the phrase after she said it, that she forgot what she meant to say. Hmm, is it Japanese for something??

"Crap your pants, change later." -- A phrase to replace, "Don't worry, be happy" in hiker terms. Just a note -- none of us had to worry about that... at least not that I know of!! :)

"Cereal?" -- When we got into the woods, I looked at my mom and said, "I'm having a moment. Gimme a hug -- it's so good to be in the woods with you again." She looked up at me and said in a very serious tone, "cereal?" Meaning to say, "Serious?" or "For real?" It was a special moment, and this made it just that more special. We had so many of these moments on the hike when we said something and it came out wrong. I'm a little jealous that I didn't have really any that stuck out this weekend... :( Oh well, she had some really good ones that made up my lack of new terms.


Saturday we hiked the IAT to the Modeaux Recreation Area, which is a little lodge on the Mondeaux Flowage. The weather was really nice for hiking. I think it was in the mid-60's, maybe the very low 70's... breezy, not a lot of bugs. We found plums and enjoyed the terrain. There were bear hunters everywhere, too. At one point we came out on a road crossing and there were probably 15 trucks parked up and down the road! But the hunters were very friendly talking to.

A few hours in, I had already turned my ankles a couple of times and slipped in a few spots -- remember that I forgot my hiking boots? Well I was trying to hike in my OLD worn out running shoes. I was thinking to myself, "I wonder if it would be any better barefoot?" I had always wanted to try it, so I did. I took my shoes off and hiked the last 2 hours barefoot. It was okay except for where there were sharp, little pebbles. Other than that, I really enjoyed it... I plan to try that again!

We got to the lodge where we waited for my dad to pick us up and bring us back to the other car. We ate, had a couple of drinks, relaxed for a few hours, I had ice cream (of course!) and we headed back to Phillips. Once there, we visited with Grandma and some family that was in town to help her and my Aunt Rita move. Then we went out. We stopped at Lost Vega's and visited for a long time.

Sunday morning we got up and sadly said good-byes again. Hickory and I head back to Oshkosh. He hung out until I brought him to the airport again on Wednesday morning. He was on his way to Vermont to hike the Long Trail for 3 weeks and meet up with some friends from that area.

Story of the weekend
Mom's morning dig - caught in the act!

So mom was off doing her "morning business" as she does, and Hickory and I sat around camp drinking coffee discussing all the dogs barking off in the distance... all the bear hunters... then we heard a dog barking that seemed kinda close. I always think, "wonder if he's chasing a bear," after the last IAT hike I was on when a bear was being chased right by our camp by a bunch of dogs. Then I laughed and said to Hickory, "Wouldn't it be funny it that dog found my mom and ran up to her as she was poo'ing and started sniffing around?"

Maybe 5 minutes later, mom comes walking back into camp with rosy cheeks, a huge grin and while giggling, she says, "You're never going to guess what happened!"

Yes. It did. As she was cleaning herself up, shirt hanging in a tree branch, a dog comes over and starts sniffing around her. Then she turns around and sees a hunter standing there!! All she could muster up to say was, "We're camping..." The hunter replied calmly, "Sorry," turned around and walked away!!!

Poor mom... she ends up in some of the most compromising situations!! These couple of days were like an 8-1/2-month ADT hike all wrapped up in one small package... only I didn't have an apple to chuck...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

4th Annual "Our Hike" for Bone Marrow Disease

The Fundraiser, September 6, 2008

Well, all in all, it was a really fun day. Each year we seem to get more figured out, and everything seems to run just a little smoother. We had about 20 registered hikers, and at the end (Lost Vega's Resort) we had a lot more people join us for the dinner, music and raffles. We raised $1,000 that will be sent to the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation! Mom and I fell a little behind on the advertising this year, so we were happy with that amount, considering we had a smaller crowd. We are already excited for next year and planning on ways to spread the word even more. We hope to make these numbers grow each year. So please mark your calendars and join us next year for the 5th Annual "Our Hike" for Bone Marrow Disease Saturday, September 12, 2009! Since it'll be the 5th Annual hike, we're hoping to make it a special one!!

How about a recap and some stories from the day?

We started with a new route this year that I think we will continue to use on future hikes. On previous years, we trekked for 12.5-miles on a paved road with about 5 stops along the way. This was fun, but made for a very long day and got a little overwhelming by the end of the night. This year we shortened everything up and we thought it was much more enjoyable.

We started at The Corner Connection where the hikers registered. Each paid registrant received an "Our Hike" logo'd sportpack and bandana donated by 4imprint, a bottle of water, a frisbee, and some informational brochures about the AA&MDSIF and bone marrow diseases. Each paid registrant's name was also entered in a drawing for a really nice travel backpack full of goodies like a hydration pack, mess kit, snacks, tent lantern, hiking socks and a Swiss Army knife.

(Picture above, L-R: Patty, Kelly and Robin. Kelly was the winner of the backpack raffle)

We all filled up on a ham sandwich and potato chip lunch special, and head out at about 1:00pm. The first section of the walk was about 1/2-mile country road walk. From there we turned onto the brand-new section of ATV trail that went into the woods. The trail wasn't quite as done as we were hoping, but it was bulldozed well enough for us to walk easily. There was one small section of the trail that crossed a boggy creek, so Adam helped my dad build a bridge the night before. On Saturday morning my dad drove out and placed the plank bridge across the river so we would be able to cross without trudging through mud up to our thighs! It worked out perfectly. Next year there will be an ATV bridge already built across the river for us to cross over.

The day's weather treated us nicely! The skies were blue with puffy clouds, and it was warm enough to walk in shorts, but cool enough to keep us comfortable. We were all talking, so we didn't see many deer or wildlife, but we DID come across a porcupine that was playing dead hoping we'd leave him be... which we gladly did! We were able to snap a few pictures, though. Poor little porkie was probably scared out of his mind. So we didn't get too close, but got our pictures and hiked on.

After the new ATV trail ran out, we hooked up with the haywagon, which was driven by my uncle Kenny and dad. We hiked another short section of ATV trail, then walked on wide, gravel roads for a couple of miles. From there we turned onto Hwy W, which is another short section of paved road, but this brought us right up to the driveway of Lost Vega's Resort where we were finishing off the day with the fun raffles, dinner and music. The loop was right around 7 miles, and it took us about 3 hours to complete. It was a great distance to get some exercise, enjoy the fresh air and northwoods and have a good chance to get in on some great conversation with each other.

Once at Lost Vega's Resort, we did some car shuttling, then sat down for drinks to rehydrate ourselves. Then the food came out! Alvin and Sheila put on a spaghetti dinner for $7/plate, and we all gorged ourselves in wonderful pasta deliciousness!! After our bellies were full, Adam got set up behind the DJ equipment and started some music -- shortly after that, we starting selling paddles to raffle off the awesome baskets that my Aunt Karen put together and donated (she does every year!).

The night went on, baskets were raffled off, music was played, fun was had! A few of us even drained out the last few ounces of energy we had and walked back to my parent's house 2 miles down the road! It was a great night!

Story of the Night
Oh, how the raffle paddles flew around!

See Will pointing at Ken and laughing? That's because Ken won a meat basket... he's a vegetarian!! :)

I don't know if I have this story 100% accurate, as I was running around most the night, but from what I've heard go back and forth, this is basically how this story went:

Ken was eyeing up a print that was being raffled off (one of my original monoprints). He wanted to win it really badly -- so badly that he was saving most of his money for that particular raffle. When it finally came time to raffle off the print, he bought a chunk of the raffle paddles up, hoping he'd be the lucky winner. The winner had a choice between a print or a backpack full of chocolate.

Who won? My grandma. Ken thought for sure that his chances were done -- of course grandma was going to choose the print! And she did at first... but then went back and took the backpack instead! There is a side-story to this, too. Of course we all wondered why grandma chose the backpack over the print... through the Price County AMVETS Post 50 Ladies' Auxiliary, which she is a member of, was a drive to donate backpacks to local children to help them with back-to-school supplies, so when she remembered the drive, she quickly went back and took the backpack and later donated it to the program. She even had a picture taken with the backpack and was featured in the local newspaper for her donation! I'm so proud to have such a sweet, giving grandma!! :)

We all giggled because now Ken had another shot at the print! We went right into the next raffle. Ken again bought a big chunk of paddles. Who won? My best friend, Tami (we were practically sisters growing up)! She took the print, too. Ken was bummed. He was pouting, even! I felt so bad for him... I told him I'd make him a print of his own, but he really wanted this particular one...

A short time later, John, another friend of ours came by with the print! Ken looked shocked and asked how John got it. Apparently he bought it from Tami! She already had one that I made specifically for her, and she knew I'd make her another one if she asked -- so she thought it would be nice to give it up to someone else... and now she was left with a few more bucks for raffles.

I don't know how the next part all went down exactly, but the next raffle was winner's choice of a lotion basket, a lap quilt and a bucket of meat. John was eyeing up the meat earlier and bought a bunch of paddles hoping to win it. Ken was still pouting about losing out on the print, and I don't know if John felt bad or what happened, but he gave Ken ONE of his paddles.

Who won? Ken! With one paddle! I remember standing in front of the 3 baskets and Ken staring at them having NO idea which to choose. A girly lotion basket, a pretty lap quilt, or a bucket of meat (he's a vegetarian!). All of a sudden this look of pure genius came over his face and he snatched up the bucket of meat and held onto it good and tight. I looked at Ken and said, "Ken!! What?? You're taking the meat!? You're a vegetarian!!" He turned around and later walked back with a huge smile on his face, proudly and happily holding onto the print. He traded John for it -- so everybody walked away happy winners. John had his bucket of meat and Ken had the print.

What a scrambling turn of events. These paddle raffles are always fun. Once the baskets and prizes are won, it's always fun to see how people trade and bargain with each other. We almost always have some sort of story to share!

Just a few more pictures to enjoy...

Bushwhacking towards the river crossing

Hikers walking the gravel road sporting the donated "Our Hike" sportpacks from 4imprint!

"Caution: Hikers Ahead" signs posted on the gravel road to warn any traffic

THANK YOU Aunt Lee and Karen (baskets and raffle help), Lost Vega's Resort, The Corner Connection, Bottom Dollar (frisbees), 4imprint (bandanas and sportpacks), Adam (Mr. DJ/Emcee), Dad (bridge and haywagon putter togetherer), Uncle Kenny (haywagon driver), Tommy (use of and helping to get the haywagon ready), Rasmussen Service Center (4-wheeler Ranger to pull the haywagon) and the participants (wouldn't be possible without your support!!) We raised $1,000 for bone marrow disease! Every little bit helps in the fight for a universal cure!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A record mileage dayhike

A personal best! A record-mileage dayhike!

Question and answer for the day: What's worse than hiking through swarms and swarms of relentless mosquitoes? Forgetting your mosquito repellent...

I put up a challenge for myself. I don't know if I'm crazy, or what the deal is, but every once in a while, I think I just like to test myself to see where I'm at physically. I completed the Frozen Otter, the 1/2 distance trek of 32 miles in 12 hours, in January 2008. This was the farthest I've "hiked" in one day, ever. It was a really cool moment when I finished. That race took a lot. I was actually talking to myself for the last few hours of that trek, just to make it to the finish. But I made it in about 11 hours and 57 minutes -- JUST under the 12 hours, so I made it as a "finisher." I was thrilled!

Since it was a holiday 3-day weekend, I figured it would be a perfect time to see if I could beat my "record" of 32 miles -- I'd have 2 whole days to recover! I had much better conditions this weekend than I did on the Frozen Otter... which is mostly at night, in the freezing cold winter weather. So I was feeling confident that I could do it. The Northern Unit of Kettle Moraine offers some brutal trails, too. They are very challenging. There are a lot of short, steep hills with a lot of rocks and roots to work around. In the back of my head, I wanted to make 50 miles, but I knew that would be pretty difficult...

I set my 3 goals, as I usually do.
Goal 1 was to complete 32 miles, from the northern trailhead (Hwy P) to the southern trailhead (Hwy H)
Goal 2 was to go farther than 32 -- anything over that would be a personal best.
Goal 3 was to make it back to Butler Lake, which would be 48 miles. I even thought about pushing for 50 if I made it 48... but I had to wait and see if I could make it THAT far.

Adam and I woke up at about 2AM Saturday morning, and he made me a great high-calorie breakfast. We got going at about 3AM, drove to the Butler Lake parking lot, where I hid a bag with some lunch goodies for when I got there. Then we drove to the southern end of the trail, the Hwy H trailhead, and I dropped a gallon of water. There was a blue truck in the parking lot at the Hwy H trailhead that looked a whole lot like Randall's truck (a fellow hiking buddy). I thought it would be pretty cool to run into him at some point... Adam and I took off from there and finally arrived at the top of the trail, the Hwy P trailhead, at about 5:50AM. Adam gave me a big "good-luck" hug, and I was off.

The first 16 miles went great. I was feeling amazing. I even did quite a bit of trail-running -- I wanted to try to add a little running into my day, anyway... but when the mosquitoes came out, I didn't have much of a choice but to run -- I FORGOT my stinkin' repellent. I quickly found that if I ran, most of them weren't able to bite as much as I ran, so whenever I reached a thick swarm (which was often), I started to jog down the trail. I wore my trail running shoes, and my backpack only had only about 15-20 pounds in it. I felt light on my feet, and nothing was hurting yet. I still tried to conserve some energy, as I knew it was going to be a long day. Starting at 6AM, I was planning on going until about dark, which would be about 8 or 8:30PM.

I reached Butler Lake, which is half-way to the Southern trailhead, in 4 hours and 20 minutes. That was 16 miles! I took a half-hour break there (in the hot sun because the skeets were unfortunately too thick in the shade), took my shoes off, washed my feet off using the water pump, changed my socks, ate some lunch, stretched out really well, and head out again.

I really started cramping up in the next 7 miles. My knees were starting to give me some trouble, and I feared suffering from the famous, "peg-leg." I decided to take it a little easy, and just truck ahead at a nice, steady hiking pace. I sort of zoned out, and started paying special attention to everything I was feeling. I knew I was getting enough water, but I was still feeling what seemed like "symptoms" of something. I just took a drink of water, and immediately had cotton-mouth. My stomach was feeling slightly nauseous, my legs were stiffening and cramping up, and then I realized I wasn't sweating at all. It's was 2:30 in the afternoon, one of the hottest points of the day, and it was probably in the 80's. I then looked down at the trail and up ahead of me and noticed that my eyes weren't refocusing as quickly as they should be, and I was starting to feel a little light-headed. I knew this was not good at all, so I stopped. I took my backpack off, and remembered packing some electrolyte tabs the night before. It was a last-minute thought that I think may have saved me. I took them out and read the packaging -- I'd never taken them before. All the symptoms I was having seemed to fit in with not having enough electrolyte replacement. I was drinking gatorade, but found out that it wasn't doing the trick. I took 3 of the tablets, drank some more water, and continued on. I couldn't believe the difference! About 15 minutes later, I was feeling good again. My legs didn't feel as stiff, and I felt more energetic. This was a great learning experience for me... the importance of electrolyte replacement. It worked better than popping pain-killers!!

I made it to the entrance to Mauthe Lake campground and took another long rest. I ate some salty treats (pretzels and almond mix), took my shoes off and stretched a bunch. The next 9 miles to the southern end of the trail went by faster than I'd expected. And guess who I ran into? As I stopped to talk to a another backpacker as she was heading north, I looked down the trail, and over a hill came a guy in a red, yellow and black kilt. Sure enough... there was Randall!! It was SO cool to run into him. It really gave me a boost. We chatted for a few minutes, then we all continued on our way.

I reached the end, and my first goal of 32 miles -- and I did it in 10-1/2 hours. It was about 4:30PM. I called Adam and asked him to meet me 8 miles later at 8:30PM. I was going for 40. In an earlier phone call, Adam said something like, "I sure hope you can make 40 miles, but if you can't it's okay..." So when I hit the 32, I wasn't feeling too awful, and I knew my body could take a little more. I had already stopped doing any trail running after the 24-mile mark, so my pace was slowing, but I was still feeling strong enough to push on. I took a half-hour break and got moving again about 5:00. I knew I had plenty of time, so I took it easy on the last stretch.

I reached Hwy S, the 40-mile mark early, so I called Adam and found out he was about 1/2 hour away. I told him to pick me up at the entrance to Mauthe Lake Campground instead. It was 1 mile away, and was a better place for me to rest. Beside that, the mosquitoes were mentally defeating me (seriously bad, too), and I couldn't stand to stay in one place for any amount of time, so going on seemed a better option, no matter how much I hurt.

When I say the mosquitoes were defeating me, I'm not exaggerating. They got so bad, I actually had tears in my eyes from frustration. I would wipe off 10 from my forearm, and as my hand was finishing brushing my arm, there'd be 10 more in the same area. I don't know that I've ever dealt with skeeters as relentless and crazy as these. At one point, I seriously wanted to stop, whip my hiking poles around in the air, and cuss every cuss word I knew at them, but I knew that wouldn't stop them, and would only sap some precious energy. So I just sadly pushed on. When I finally broke, I threw my backpack off, and in the heat, zipped on my pant legs, put on my mosquito head-net, and put on my jacket -- it's all I had with me that had long sleeves. I immediately started sweating, but it was holding off some of the bites. It wasn't long before they realized the only exposed skin they could get at was my hands. They were biting so bad that my hands were swelling. Then they started biting the tops of my shoulders through my jacket, and parts of my ears where they touched the netting of my head net. I felt like I was in some horror movie! This ended up being the most challenging part of the day!! And here I thought it would be sore feet...

I finally reached 41 miles, Mauthe Lake campground, at 8:00PM. As I came to the trailhead, I saw Randall! He walked from Shelter #2, where he and some friends were staying for the night, to the campground to get some water. He and his friend congratulated me on my 41 miles (they must think I'm a nutjob...), and we said our "see-ya-laters." Adam pulled up shortly later and picked me up. He brought along a warm container of Spaghettio's (yum!), peanut butter cups, vitamin/electrolyte water, cookies and some other goodies. He even got me a cute card to congratulate me... it was really sweet of him. I was seriously thinking of quitting at 32 miles at one point, and he really helped push me on. And so I beat my personal best... I hiked 41 miles in one hiking day... 14 hours. Maybe next year I can make 50... :)

I weighed myself before and after, purely out of curiosity... I wasn't sure what this would do to my weight. I actually was hoping for no loss in weight, because I think that would mean I kept hydrated well, and my calorie intake was fairly even with my calories out... I started that morning at 154.2 pounds, and when I got home I weighed 155.0. So I gained .8 pounds. I'll have to do a little research and see what that means, exactly. I hope I did this in the healthiest way possible... there's always so much more to learn, and so many ways to improve.

So I came out of this with pride, being able to beat my record... I didn't accomplish goal #3, but that's okay... gotta save something for next time, right!? And... I came out of this with the ability to eat a Snickers bar guilt-free. What can be better than that?? :)

Skydiving again!

Skydiving. August 23, 2008

This is a video of MY MOM skydiving!!!

Well, another successful skydive!! It was mom's first time (her video is above), and I think she enjoyed it! I know she enjoyed it! When we hit the ground, she jumped up and down just like everyone does after their jump... we were trying to figure out why we all do that... maybe it's because we have so much adrenaline running through us... in addition to being so glad we're on the ground. :)

I honestly thought she'd be so much more nervous, but she wasn't! She was completely calm and collected. Dad was there to watch us crazies jump out of the plane... I think I might have seen a little more nervousness in his eyes than us jumpers... after all, both of his "girls" were going up into a plane... we put my poor Pappy through so much with our crazy adventures. Adam came just before we jumped, too. It was nice to have my two favorite guys there to greet me on the ground. :)

The jump was amazing, once again. Only 3 of us jumped this time... I think everyone else just chickened out! Mom and I went up first, then Jake went up. It turned out to be a perfect day. Thunderstorms were forcasted, but we ended up with blue skies! Mom jumped with Paul, and I jumped with Brad. Both are fun characters, and really make for a fun jump. Paul got mom on video, which you've probably already watched above. I didn't get video this time, so I asked Brad if we could do some flips out of the plane. He seemed excited when I asked... so when we exited the plane, we took a few back flips off of the platform. It was really cool! I thought I'd feel it in my tummy or something, but I didn't. I just remember seeing sky, then ground, then sky, then ground, then sky, then ground... then freefall straight down again. Then there was a little tug, and the chute opened. As we were floating down, I could see where our apartment was below... I couldn't see the actual apartment complex, but I was able to follow the road to exactly where it was... I remember thinking, "Hi kitties!" Okay, yeah... I'm a dork!

Then I looked over and saw mom floating down. Our chutes got so close I was able to yell "Hey, Mom!" to her and she could hear me! It was really neat! Brad and I made a bunch of fun turns with the chute, and then took a pretty smooth upright landing... no butt-slide!

Exiting the plane for the back flips was a little different. I had to place both feet on the platform, then grab the wing and hang on, then sort of shuffle my feet to about 6" from the edge. I had 80mph winds pushing at me, and I scrunched down into a low squat, then Brad asked me (I think twice) if I was ready... when I yelled, "Ready!" we pushed off. Amazing.

All I can say is, if you get the chance, make the jump. It's so much fun!!

And hey, mom... I'm proud of you!!!! :)