I’ve been home a little over 3 months, slowly my body and mind have healed, well my body has.  When I first got back, I couldn’t climb a set of stairs without stopping at the top to catch my breath, my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it with even the slightest of exercise and at the end of the day my feet and ankles were swollen.  I was very worried that I might have done some permanent damage to myself.  At the end of my first month home, I started taking Wrigley, (the cutest puppy on the planet) for short walks. Gradually we got up to 2 miles and these were gentle walks. We increased it to 3 miles and then to 4 miles as I felt stronger.  Now we do 4 miles at a pretty good pace almost everyday.  So, to those who care, I’m fine.  It took a long time for my blood to get back to normal, but as of Wednesday the 27th, my blood work is back to where it was before I started my hike.  My previous blood work was close but not quite back to normal. At that time I told my Dr. I wanted to go back to the trail for a week to ten days in August.  I planned to go SOBO thru MA and hopefully see some familiar faces heading  NOBO .  But, my Dr. didn’t think it was a good idea.  I was planning to go anyway, UNTIL, I went for a bike ride.  Pedaling up some of the hills seemed a lot harder than they should have been, I even walked my bike up one of them. So,, I didn’t go back to the trail.

I did take 2 drives out to the Berkshires in MA and met up with Tip Toe and Kenny one day and Wrong Way Jalapeno, Bad Camel and Popeye the other.  It was great seeing them and talking trail.  I do miss it.

Popeye, Wrong Way Jalapeno, hoba, Bad Camel and Lil

Popeye, Wrong Way Jalapeno, hoba, Bad Camel and Lil

I do miss it, in the same breath I can say I’m glad to be home.  I missed Lil and my life at home a lot.  I had some home sickness on the trail.  I had planned to go home for a week in June for my granddaughters high school graduation and if the trail wasn’t calling me back, I might not have returned.  Anyway, the gods sent me home earlier.

When I first got back, I said I was done.  My body was broken and I had had enough.  Then some time past and I thought going back in August for a week to ten days sounded like a good idea.  NOW!!! I’m thinking of going back for a month next year and starting where I left the trail.  Lil thinks a month would be all right.  I don’t think she will ever again agree to SIX MONTHS.  And I’m not sure if I could do that.  Maybe I’m a Section Hiker.  I have a friend, who I have backpacked with in the past, who is thinking of hiking the Trail in 2015.  So I might join him in Atkins VA for a bit.  Well, that’s the plan today.  You going Ross??

Since I took my Ford E-150 van to the junk yard before starting my hike, I needed to get some wheels.  I bought a white 2011 Ford Transit Connect.  I call it my “marshmallow”.  It is much smaller than my E-150.  MUCH SMALLER!!  But, I do like the gas mileage.  My kayaks will not go inside this marshmallow so I had to wait till I got roof racks for it before I could go for a float.  I missed being able to just go Kayaking anytime I wanted.  So far Lil and I have kayaked down the Essex river to Cranes beach with our friends Rick and Shelia,  and Ken and I have done the Slocum river to Buzzards Bay.  Nice to be kayaking again.

my marshmallow with kayaks

my marshmallow with kayaks

As much as I didn’t want a dog before Wrigley came into my life, and I wasn’t going to have anything to do with “your dog”.  I’ve changed a little. OK! A LOT!  Now I’m trying to get Wrigley to come kayaking with us.  I made a railing for the front of my kayak out of a pair of aluminum crutches and placed some non-skid treads on the deck so Wrigley doesn’t slide off.  It works, but, having a 22 lb puppy shifting her weight from side to side does not make for a comfortable paddle. We’ve only tried it twice and I think she will get the hang of it.  She’s still a Puppy.  Lil thinks she would do better in the back hatch, but I can’t see how she’s doing back there.

railing for Wrigley on my kayak

railing for Wrigley on my kayak


Wrigley in the back hatch and Lil

Wrigley in the back hatch and Lil

Final note.  I did that bike ride again the other day.  I rode my bike up the hill that I walked up some weeks before.



The Fun Continues

I was discharged from the hospital on May 21 st, after a one night stay. I felt better with the transfusion of blood and the endoscopy showed a mild gastritis. But, no ulcers and no more bleeding. Now it will be a slow healing to get my blood back to normal and my strength back.  I don’t have much energy but I’m better than I was.

Well, Thursday the 22 nd, late morning, I have severe diarrhea and a fever. Lil says to call my doctor and back to the hospital I go. I’m given 2 X-rays, a cat-scan, daily blood draws, pee and poop tests. I’m on a saline drip for 2 days.  But my diarrhea stops and my fever breaks in 48 hours, get me out of here. So Saturday afternoon, I go home again. They don’t have all of the tests results when they discharge me. Tuesday, I get a call from my doctor, I have tested positive for the norovirus.  My arms look like I’m a drug addict from all of the needles.

So now we are home and healing again and I need to decide what I am going to do for the next chapter of my life. As for where am I emotionally??  I’m good. A little disappointed for not completing. A little more disappointed for doing this damage to myself.  BUT, I’m rather pleased with what this 64 year old body did do.  I knew going in that 70-80 percent don’t complete their hike. I knew I wasn’t going with a 20 year old body. I knew that many leave the trail for health reasons. I knew that I DID NOT want to cause permanent damage to myself by doing this.  I have memories and images of the trail and the people that I met on the trail.  I’m good. Will I try again? Right now the answer is probably not. However I am thinking of doing a sobo hike thru MA later this year and maybe meeting some of the hikers I met on my hike as they head nobo to ME.

I want to thank all of you who followed and encouraged me on my hike. I looked forward to those contacts on the trail Thank you. I’m going to step back from my blogs for the near future anyway and re-group.  There is a time to heal.



Third Trip to the Hospital

Yesterday I went to see my primary care physician for a follow up visit after my ER visit to the Smyth County Community Hospital in Marion VA. One week after the ER trip. She ordered some blood work and contacted my Cardiac Dr for an EKG.  My EKG was fine.  My blood was not. My red blood cell count should be between 4.2 -5.8 M/uL, mine was 2.38. My HGB (hemoglobin) should be between 13.2 – 17.1 g/dL, mine was 7.8.  I had lost a lot of blood from my stomach bleeding. Both Drs agreed that I should go right to the ER and be admitted for a blood transfusion and an endoscopy. So late yesterday afternoon and early evening I was given 2 units of blood.  This morning I had an endoscopy ( they scoped my stomach ). Both Drs said my symptoms, weak, no energy, tightness across my chest, feet and ankle swelling and leg cramps were all caused by my low blood levels.  Not enough oxygen was getting to my muscles and organs.

I’ve read or knew of the warnings about aspirin and Aleve.  I just didn’t believe that 2 little pills, 2 over the counter medicines when taken together for a few weeks could cause my body this much damage.  I hope someone reads this and learns from my mistake. I’m still waiting for a couple of test results.  I’ve been told that it could be a couple of months for my blood to be back to normal.  I’m not happy with myself for doing this to me. I’m back home again and I am healing.

I’ve been meaning to send a THANK YOU note to my personal trail angels

Kathy and Lynn

I will never be able to repay them for their help getting to the trail and getting home from the trail.




Some have asked what LYMG means and some have guessed.  I said I would tell at the end of my hike.

LY is love you.  MG is a pet name I have called Lil from before we were married. On the wedding band I gave Lil along with the date and our initials I had inscribed “my goddess”.

Love you my goddess.

Now on the band that Lil gave me, along with the date and our initials, Lil had one word inscribed 3 times

mine mine mine

Bit possessive maybe.



Day 49. The End

I’m posting from the Smyth County Community Hospital.

I decided early in the morning to hike the 0.3 miles to the USFS road #644 and call for help. I asked Tippy Toe from Colorado if he would accompany me. He said he would. Made some oatmeal and orange jello and packed up. I was shaky on the hike out but didn’t get dizzy. It was an easy downhill to the gravel road. Called 911 they said they would send help. I felt a bit foolish when three vehicles showed up. Potato from Idaho was waiting with me at this time. I had sent Tippy Toe and Uhmpa on their hike. Thanks guys.
The EMT’s where great. When I told them about my last day and the fact that my stool had been black for the last two days. They said I needed to stop hiking and took me to the hospital.
I didn’t have vertigo. I had given myself a bleeding stomach. I take a full aspirin a day for my heart disease and I was taking an Aleve for my muscle aches every morning. This combination probably caused the bleeding. I’m off the trail maybe for good.
I need to heal and get my blood count up. Lil says I can come home. My personal TRAIL ANGELS, Kathy and Lynn are coming to get me. I have GREAT FRIENDS.
So this hike has ended at 538.5 miles.
This is the second time I have landed in the hospital because I wanted to hike the AT. I don’t know if I will try for a third trip to the hospital.

I’m in the hospital lobby, an elderly lady with a walker went by. Two wheels in the front and two tennis balls in back. I’m smiling because at one of the shelters a twenty year old suggested that I should put a tennis ball on my walking sick.
They will never find his body. Just kidding.

Day 48. 5/13/14

Chatfield Shelter. 538.2 nobo. 10.2 miles today

I stopped at Partners Shelter early on, they have a shower there, had breakfast, showered and washed some smelly clothing. Left about noon. Had 2 not tough climbs but they killed me. Broke me. I’m crying, I want to go home. I’m done. I miss Lil horribly and the comforts of home. Those 2 climbs should have been easy. My heart was pounding out of my chest at one point. I thought maybe it was because it was over 80 F on the trail today.
When I got to the shelter there were 2 section hikers there. I stretched out my sleeping pad and laid down for a bit. I still didn’t feel right so I started to cook supper, thinking I was hungry. Nothing looked good to eat.
Then I started to sweat buckets and got very dizzy. Told the 2 section hikers that I probably have the norovirus. I made it back into the shelter to lay down. They packed and ran like I had the plague. 6 more hikers came and left. I might have the shelter to myself tonight. I walked up the hill to the privy and had another cold sweat dizzy spell. I crawled back to the shelter on my hands and knees and laid back down.
About 10 hikers left or didn’t stop BUT all asked if I needed anything, food, water. I kept saying I was sorry and they all said it wasn’t my fault. Thanks guys and gals.
From 9:00 till 11:00 the lightning and thunder show was something. During this a group of younger hikers showed up with headlamps on. I had met them before on the trail. At this point I had decided that I did not have the norovirus, I had not vomited or had diarrhea, I thought vertigo. I explained what had been going on with me and they decided to stay. With the storm I didn’t blame them. Six shared the shelter with me and two set up tents. They thanked me for clearing the shelter for them.


Day 47. 5/12/14

4 miles short of Partnership Shelter. 528 nobo. 16.6 miles today.
Just hiking thru the woods today. I’m tenting with Bandana Bill, Swiss Miss, Nobody and Toasted Toad. What a group. Swiss Miss and Nobody are from Switzerland and are married. I’ve enjoyed there company many times out here.