My Eyes……

My Eyes……

I don’t even know where to begin. I called the specialty practice on October 6 (the day I fell in my vet’s parking lot) and after two weeks they called back and gave me an appointment to see an optometrist on November 1. She said I had a lot of scar tissue on the corneas and recommended they be removed by a laser procedure called a YAG. She offered to RX me glasses then but I said I’d wait for the YAG as it might possibly change my distance vision. She also highly recommended Restasis for dry eyes, a problem I have. She said they would set me up with Dr. Garvey, an ophthalmologist within the practice for the YAG. The receptionist gave me an appointment for December 6.

No one ever said it was for a meet and greet! Not to mention that this doctor was obviously in a hurry. I told her I haven’t been able to drive for  months because I don’t want to endanger  other drivers. Yet less than 15 minutes later she told me when I come back for the YAG, come early in the day so I have time for everything to wear off before I drive home. I reminded her I gave up driving several months ago. Then she said, “Oh you must take public transportation”. I debated whether I should smack her then or wait till later because when she initially greeted me she asked where Rangeley was and I told her it was a 2.5 hour drive one way. I mentioned the Restasis and she had nothing positive to say about it at all and discouraged it’s use. She told me the scar tissue was minimal and shouldn’t really be affecting my vision. Honest to God I sat on my hands at that point. She said she would start with the right eye then I would come back for the left. I told her I had previously had punctul plugs which were like manna from heaven (small inserts that go into lower tear duct thus keeping moisture in and easing the dryness of eyes). I told her the first ones that were put in came out within a week so the next pair were buried deep. Told her that were like manna from heaven for over a year until I had sinus surgery in January 2015 and the blood that forcibly comes out from your tear ducts must have dislodged them. She went to see if they had any (God in a huge 4 level multi practitioner practice like that why wouldn’t they???)  I heard her tell the tech in the hallway “I know I know I’ll be right there. I’m hurrying”. She came back in, inserted the plugs (which looked awfully small) and told me the left one was “probably going to come out”. I agreed and told her it felt like it would (not my first punctal plug rodeo). She flew off. I went to the receptionist who gave me an appointment for January 31. I told her the punctul plug was already dislodging and she said “Call me if it does” It was gone by the time we got home and the right one came out about 9am today. I called the receptionist, left a voice mail at 10:30am but never heard back. Then I decided to call the optometrist I’d seen in the practice on November 1. Figured since they make you wait months for appointments I’d make mine now. Left a voice mail there as well. A girl called me back about 4pm. She told me that I couldn’t make the appointment until I had the YAG procedure (a direct contradiction of what the optometrist had told me). Well at the rate they book I won’t have the second YAG until February and be seen for glasses in March so why couldn’t I make an appointment now to cut down the wait time?  She said the optometrists receptionist was off today but she’s leave a message for her to call me. $20 says she doesn’t. Then she made a huge mistake. She told me people my age have visual issues and it’s part of the aging process. I JUST TURNED 50 IN NOVEMBER!!! She said “I know how you feel” I told her not to patronize me as she had no idea how I felt. That all this is because I lost my glasses while hiking the Appalachian Trail; that I had zero difficulty seeing prior to that incident and that I’d never worn glasses for reading but now I cannot even see the floor in my own house. So unless she REALLY knows how someone feels as an advanced practice healthcare professional I recommend she refrain from condescending remarks.

I am so stressed over this that I’m grinding my teeth so badly during the night that I’ve destroyed my custom made bite guard. Now I think I’ve damaged the root of a tooth because it hurts like hell. Had this happen once before and had to have  dental implants. I’ve gained 30# from inactivity and rarely leave the house for fear of falling. If I could I would sue my former ophthalmologist of 10 years but the laws are very limited in Maine. I had a two part hysterectomy  for what was really a kidney stone and there was nothing I could do. Partial hysterectomy in January and full one three months later in April. I woke up in Recovery Room with the same pain. I lived with it until October when a doctor who was merely a friend asked why I always looked gray. After having a meltdown in front of him he said “I’ll order you a STAT IVP (test) for tomorrow morning. By the time I got home from the hospital there was a message from him asking that I call ASAP. Turns out I had the mother lode of kidney stones and they had to go in surgically from my back to remove it.

This sucks and now I probably need $$$ dental work.  The only thing I’m sure of is I am NOT having any procedures done by the doctor I saw yesterday. If she cannot pay attention to what I’m saying then she’s not getting within 10 feet of my eyes.

Love,

She Who Needs A Walker because I’m so freaking old and decrepit. Yet I banged out the highest mountain in this state , Mount Katahdin, in less than a half day. And THAT was  my starting point! After that I entered and completed the 100 Mile Wilderness. Oh but wait! I could still see then.

The Wind Flows North

While sitting on a rock on the middle of the woods during a downpour I came to a rather startling conclusion – I have absolutely no desire to do a thru-hike. I never yearned to follow my heart on the trail as many do. I don’t like to go days without bathing, wearing the same clothes and carrying my home on my back. It’s not who I am. I loved the parts of the Appalachian Trail that I traversed but I don’t have a deep desire to journey it in one continuous hike. And if I’m completely honest with myself, I’m more of a “peakbagger”. I love finding my way up a mountain and basking in the views from atop. So what if it sometimes takes me hours to reach the summit? Or if part of the climb involves bush whacking? I find true joy in every step. So I’m returning to Maine to complete the 127 miles remaining of the Appalachian Trail. Once I’m done I’ll start tackling the mountains in Maine that I haven’t previously hiked such as White Cap, Jackson, and Caribou – all a rather short drive from my home. This will keep me busy though October at which point I’ll revisit the idea of hiking part of the southern Appalachian Trail. For now, staying in New England where I can freely hike with my GSD without her becoming overheated from the oppressive heat/humidity is the best plan for me. So instead of trail pictures expect vistas!

Finally!

After hiking over 150 miles of the AT in Maine, I have a new respect for my adoptive home state. I’ve been hiking, primarily in the Western Mountain region, for 10 years and have enjoyed every footstep. The rugged terrain of the AT however has taken me to a different skill level. Quite challenging and the fact that it rained nearly half the time I was hiking only added to it. I’m off to continue the trail south but hope to compete BSP later this year. Next year if still living in Maine I’d love to try Acadia.
My new partner and I are on our way to the NY/CT border where we’ll begin hiking NOBO in CT. Saturday night I set waypoints through each state on my GPS. When I got to NH I was dumbfounded; just never realized how massive the White Mountains are, especially the Presidential Range. Very impressive – if you’re a mule.

I became a little spoiled doing the bulk of Maine first because I had the luxury of returning home frequently. I didn’t have to carry as much pack weight because home was only an hour or so away. Now that I’m beginning the next leg of the AT I’m concerned about keeping the pack below 30#. So far it’s a losing the battle for it weighs 32#. My headlamp simply “broke” as I was putting new batteries in it this morning but fortunately I have another albeit less powerful one. Family will exchange the Black Diamond Spot and send the replacement to me in CT.

Hoping to see Jumper and his “Dad” at some point. Jumper went home with his grandparents but is supposed to resume hiking in VT.
It dawned on me last night how much I’m going to miss my family, both human and fur kids and my dear friend Liz. I also made another new friend recently who shares my love of nature and passion for animals. Plus a composer of incredibly beautiful music. Yep going to miss all of them (except the television)…

Today I’m spent but very happy!

Yesterday I literally spent from 0630 to 1000 looking for Jumper, the beagle who became separated from his owner on the AT on Sunday June 21. I quickly printed the “Missing Dog” picture posted on social media by Maine Lost Dog Recovery and made 30 flyers. Armed with brad nails and small hammers we went to the Stratton trailhead where Jumper ran off earlier in the week. I went NOBO on the trail with my GSD Inga and my daughter went SOBO putting flyers on trees while hubby drove into Stratton proper and posted/searched.

My hasty flyer
My hasty flyer
Good water!!
Lip lickin’ water
Now where do I go?
Now where do I look?

Since Jumper’s owner Eric had been faithfully searching the trailhead area, I thought perhaps Jumper might follow their scent back in the direction they had come, north so I hiked as far as Avery Peak in the Bigelow range before turning back. Then we put the last of the flyers in Rangeley. I saw two hikers walking and asked if they had been on the trail and if so had they seen a loose dog (I didn’t mention breed). They were NOBO and said the previous day they had seen a brown and white beagle running with another dog near Piazza Rock. They remembered it because the dogs appeared to be alone. Theoretically it could have been Jumper they’d seen because the distance between the two locations via the AT is approximately 31 miles and he’d been lost for three days. Armed with this information we drove to a logging road, hopped on the trail and hiked to Piazza Rock. There were several dogs but all were with their owners. I left Jumper’s information with the caretaker and we headed home after stopping at the Hiker Hostel to alert them. The rest of the evening I couldn’t shake the image of Jumper from my mind so on a whim I did my first true night hike – back to Piazza Rock with Inga. Nothing but the sounds of wildlife. Dejected I texted Eric. By this time I was achy, cold and had a headache the size of Texas. My mind kept drifting back to Jumper and my fear that his pack would become ensnared on one of the many pipe size roots that I’ve come to despise. He would be trapped and susceptible to predatory animals that inhabit the area. All of a sudden around 1100 I received a text from Eric saying Jumper had been found! I was ecstatic. Apparently some hikers saw the flyers and took a picture of it. Later they spotted Jumper wandering on the street close to Route 27 and called. According to Eric he was thinner, sans backpack, a bit shaken and exhausted. I am so happy because the thought of him never being found disturbed me. Yes I’m an animal lover, one of those people who puts my animals well-being atop the hierarchal ladder. You know the type – more than one pet yet not in the “Crazy Cat Lady Down The Block” category.
So let me introduce Eric, who’s determination and devotion to his four legged friend never waned, and
Jumper.

Jumper after rescue
Jumper after rescue
Eric and his best buddy
Eric (DreamWeaver) and his best buddy
Wow what a trip!
Wow what a trip!

Jumper will be going home with his grandparents who drove to Maine from New York with several other family members to join in the search. He’ll get some much needed rest, a medical exam and regain the lost weight. Once Eric finishes hiking the rugged terrain of Northern New England, Jumper will rejoin him for the more forgiving remainder of the trail. Eric is a wonderful young man who’s love for his dog humbled me. It’s been an honor to interact with him and I wish them the best of luck going forward in their journey. I know his parents are very proud of the fine young man he is. I hope I’ll meet them somewhere on the trail, IF I can manage to finish the last 148 miles and get out of Maine. Meanwhile, if you meet DreamWeaver and Jumper on the trail, please say hello.

PS. I think Jumper’s trail name should be “JJF” for Jumpin’JoeFlash.

Missing Dog

Today I climbed Sugarloaf which wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared. My family left me on the trail just south of it this morning because my intention was to stay out and continue on towards Stratton then the Bigelows. I was having lunch atop the “Loaf”, marveling at the excellent cell reception when I received a tweet about a missing dog. Jumper is a 5 year old beagle that was doing a SOBO with his owner. They’d made it through the 100 Mile Wilderness and most of the Western Mountain range when Jumper took off at the trailhead in Stratton on Sunday June 21.  He had his pack and leash on which is what concerns me. I’m sure he could chew through his leash if it became tangled but the pack could become ensnared on one of the many pipe sized roots. I’m not sure he could get himself loose if that happened. I really can’t imagine what it must be like for his young owner – to be in a strange state far from home, extremely limited cellular signal, only the pack on his back and his dog is missing. So I made the decision to come home and print the “Lost Dog” picture that Maine Lost Dog Recovery posted online. I made 30 copies and have enlisted my family to go with me to Stratton early tomorrow morning so we can help this young man in his search. We’re getting on at the trail head with me heading north and daughter heading south, hanging flyers on trees and armed with hot dogs. Hubby will take the town section which is extremely small. Hopefully with extra eyes out there we can find Jumper. I was fortunate that his owner, Eric, reached a cell signal tonight and I was able to tell him my plan.

Please say a prayer that Jumper is found safe and reunited with his owner.

**I did get a lot of nice pictures and videos while at Sugarloaf which I’ll post over the weekend.

                               Jumper
         Jumper

Mountain Goating, Crab Crawling or Bear Crawling?

I’m trying to define the way I’m traversing the Appalachian Trail in the Western Mountains of Maine. Sometimes I walk confidently along the trail, taking in the beauty of the woods coupled with the sounds of nature. I’ll take a short break sitting on a moss-covered tree, fiddling with my pack or camera. Other times I’ll reach a steep pitched area full of craggy rocks and pipe sized tree roots and say “Oh hell no”. Since I’m determined to make it to Katahdin I brace myself and find a way up the rocks. Seriously, if someone told me a year ago I’d be doing this I would have laughed.

Mountain Goating
Mountain Goating
What I feel like
What I feel like

As for my crawling technique, not really sure what it’s called other than “Please don’t let my pants rip”.

I’m just beginning to see other hikers and I always watch how they scramble up and over the rocks because maybe there’s a better way that poses less risk to my pants. Tomorrow I’m ascending one of the 4000 footers so I’ll take Cliff Notes ~ I’m sure there’s a more graceful way. My GoPro is finally updated so perhaps I can capture a lesson on video.

Where's Waldo?
Where’s Waldo?
???
                    ???
More hikers
          More hikers

Hiking Maine

Hiking Maine is something I definitely don’t recommend doing solo if at all possible. And if solo is your only option then carry a GPS device such as the InReach or Spot which will allow you to send an SOS. I’ll admit I got off trail near Saddleback but luckily found my way back to it by following the sound of the stream. It gave rise to the thought ” What if I REALLY did get lost?”. I’ve seen online comments that nobody can get lost on the AT in Maine because it’s well marked. Wrong! I passaged several areas in the Western Mountains where the blazes were faded and almost unrecognizable. It’s early in the season and NOBO’s are arriving slowly and SOBO’s just starting so one doesn’t see a myriad of footprints in the bogs etc. to indicate you’re on the correct path. To date I’ve seen two SOBO, two NOBO, a family of four day hikers and Mr. Magoo’s twin brother. So when I got off trail I just relied on sound because every time I looked at my InReach it told me a waypoint was “.2 miles” – no matter where I was or what direction I was headed. Then I sent a test message from the InReach and it took almost an hour to send leading me to the conclusion that GPS was sketchy. BUT at least it finally went so even if just used for an emergency it’s well worth the cost in my opinion. Several times while navigating the rugged terrain I thought ” What if I fall?”which again made me thankful I had a GPS transmitter. The other day a man from Texas fell and broke his ankle. It took rescue crews over 4 hours to get him out because the area was so rugged. Sad way to end his hike that began in GA. I wish I had a partner for the rest of Maine but since I don’t it’s carry on Quickie. Two more days of hiking and I’ll be done with the rugged terrain – for a little while. I estimate I’ll summit Katahdin around July 12 – give or take two days. Usually the AT in Maine takes about one month to traverse so my time is on target considering I had some missed opportunities. I’ve decided however to take BB home and leave her there until I’ve completed Maine. The terrain is just to difficult and I don’t want her getting hurt. When we walk through bogs she sinks almost to her tummy.

Piazza Rock
               Piazza Rock
BB at Saddlback
               BB
Enroute to Saddleback
  Enroute to Saddleback

Having her tethered to my waist is difficult because the lead gets caught on roots or rocks requiring me to free her multiple times. It’s hard to take pictures because I’m never really hands free. I’ve also noticed more wildlife activity in the woods after 3pm which frightens BB. I hear noises that I don’t hear earlier in the day, especially the eerie scream of fishers.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that peakbagging the 3000 and 4000 footers carrying my backpack is really hard. I was concerned about my “fake knees” but it’s the metal in my ankle that seems to ache with the activity/extra weight. So I’m tackling the mountain ranges as day hikes carrying a lighter day pack. I’ve always complained because living in the Western Mountains of Maine means a lengthy car drive for most things. For the AT however it’s manna from heaven because I live right in the middle of them. I know; I’m getting spoiled by being able to return home at the end of a day but that luxury is quicky coming to an end. I’m ready!!!