Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Odds and Ends

I have a chance to write a little bit more about more backpacking trip.  So, I spent five nights in Olympic National Park in WA doing the Skyline Trail, a 50-mile or so loop I've been looking at for years.  The Skyline portion of the trail isn't maintained, and the guide books make it sound like anyone who tries the trail is bound to get lost, but I did it anyways.  It was definitely grueling in parts, and me not having trained for a month due to throwing out my back didn't help matters, but I was pretty satisfied with having done it.  Here's a few photos ...

  
Ranger station

High point of the route -- Kimta Pk (5,400')





Sunset at Lake Beauty (4,500')

As you can see, it was a beautiful hike.  The Olympics are the highest mountain range around, but it is a huge national park, and it is easy to get pretty deep into the wilderness.  I love getting to the top of a ridge deep in the park and seeing the ridges just go on seemingly forever, with no evidence of man at all.

But, back to irrigating.  I wrote extensively about my irrigating adventures during my trip to Sequoia National Park the previous month, and I'm happy to report that I learned my lesson on a lot of things, and this trip went pretty well.  The biggest thing I learned was discipline.  You simply must irrigate every day if you're wearing a backpacking with a conventional hip belt strap that goes over your stoma.  My first day, I was lazy and didn't irrigate, and I had to deal with lots of messes throughout the day.  After that, I irrigated every day and things were hunky dory.

 
Nothing in here I was able to use ...

Pooping facilities were good.  Four of five nights there was a privy at the campsite.  I didn't use it the first night because there were plenty of others there and I didn't want to hog it for an hour (plus I was sleep deprived and completely exhausted).  The other nights with a privy were great as I didn't have to dig a pit.  But still, it took an hour or so for the whole thing.  I drew a few odd stores from the other backpackers who were camped around me, but nobody had courage to ask me what in the world what I was doing when they me holding a big IV bag-looking thing of water over my head with a tube running down into my abdomen, and a three foot irrigation sleep hanging off my abdomen to the ground.  That, with the pot and stove, it probably looked like some kind of crazy meth lab setup or something.  I didn't take the kitchen sink with me this time, so I had a lot less crapping gear, which was nice as it kept my pack lighter.  Still had to pack out all the used stoma gear.  I used a diaper pail bag to store all of that, which was better than the garbage compactor liner, and dumping some baking soda in there really kept the odor down.  So, making progress.

When you're backpacking in the woods, a great deal is made about food storage at night, and understandably so.  You don't want critters (mice, chipmunks, marmots, bears) getting into your food.  So, you have to carry a heavy bear canister to store your food, hang your food in the trees, or put it in a bear box or hang it from a bear wire if a campsite has either of those.   But poop bags.  Heck just set them on the ground.  Nobody wants a piece of that.  

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Had my latest blood test last week, though I haven't gotten the results.  My overall health has been heading downhill a bit as I really haven't been exercising since Memorial Day - just a few backpacking trips with little exercising in between.  I just let work and other things really get to me, and I fell off the wagon.  Put some of the weight I had lost back on again, and wasn't eating the best.  Starting to have a tough time sleeping again.  I really do think the sleep and health are closely related.  When I was working out, I was sleep much better and felt so much more refreshed and had more energy.  Now, I'm waking up fatigued again, and want to fall asleep at work every day.  But, now I know.  Just need to be diligent and stick with exercising!

Scans are coming up in December.  I've gotten a little bit paranoid about CT scans ever since I learned one CT scan = 8,000 xrays (or something), and asked if I could have MRIs instead.  My chemo onc said he'd be willing to do an MRI for the abdomen and pelvis, but wanted to keep doing a CT scan for the chest as he said there's no substitute for a CT scan for the the chest.  I'm going to look into that a bit more, as my surgeon was all on board for a MRI for the whole thing.  But, I trust my chemo onc, so if this is what he recommends, I'm pretty comfortable with it.  Kinda.
  
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The Colondar is going to be relased in a little under TWO WEEKS.  I'm excited about it.  I was able to raise $2,500 from friends and family to support my page, which was pretty fantastic.  Again, a huge thanks to everyone who donated.  I've seen a proof of the final calendar and it looks pretty sweet.  These guys did an excellent job.  Total pros.

I'm excited about getting involved and promoting the Colondar.  I had hoped to put up a table at the GYRIG (Get Your Rear in Gear) Seattle run in November, but I have to be in Cali. for work (bummer).  But, maybe the Undy 5,000 run in Phoenix.  There's a few other local events that I've tracked down and reached out to the local organizers to see if I can put a Colondar table up.  So far, that's been pretty successful.  And, to top it off, because I have all this free time (huge sarcasm), I'm considering signing up to the event director to get the GYRIG run to return to Portland.  It's a lot of work, but I think the GYRIG run would totally fly here in Portland.

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One last thing.  I've been at my job for a little of week and so far ... it rocks!  Working in house is such a change of pace from law firm life.  I can't see myself going back.  The past five years have been kinda crappy (no pun intended), but I think things are really looking up.  For the first time in a long time, I like where things are heading.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

TP

What's the ONE thing just about ANYONE will never forget on a multi-day backpacking trip? 

That's right.  Toilet paper. 

And you'd think the guy who's had his ass on his mind quite a bit the past few years would REMEMBER to bring toilet paper.  But nooooooooo.  I was in complete and utter disbelief when I realized that I had left that behind.  (Well, maybe not complete and utter -- I do these things sometimes.)  Thankfully, I had enough pieces of gauze in my first aid kit to avoid having to use moss, sticks and leaves to clean my stoma.

More about the trip to follow ...