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Nine Things I Learned from the 2017 Rachel Carson Trail Challenge

My BFF convinced me that this was the year we would gloriously return to the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge! The timing was perfect, not only was it not near any birthday celebrations, but it was going in the opposite direction from when we first hiked it in 2006. I started training at the beginning of the year. Then managed to sprain my ankle May 19. There was a crazy deluge the week leading up to the challenge. That set the stage for 14 hours 16 minutes and 42 seconds of hiking, slogging, and hauling myself from North Park to Harrison Hills Park. And these are my takeaways… 

  1. At the start of this year’s RCTC I knew two things: There were going to be lots of stream crossings and I was hiking on a still recovering sprained ankle. As I saw it, my footwear options were my high top hiking boots,  which happened to be gortex, or my trail runners and a wrap. I went with the boots thinking the padded ankle would be better support. HUGE mistake. Gortex keeps water in, just as well as out. My boots were super saturated by mile two and thus heavy! The lesson here is, go with the wrap and the trail runners. Your feet are going to get wet either way.
  2. Sewing mesh pockets on my yoga pants was the most brilliant thing I have done in ages! Cargo yoga pants! Hooray!
  3. Back to the water issue…if you know there will be multiple water crossings, bring more than one pair of dry socks. I waited way too long to change into dry socks because I didn’t want to get the dry ones wet. The price of that bad decision was 2 huge blisters on the last two toes of both feet.
  4. Take your reservoir entirely OUT of your backpack to fill it up. I totally hosed that up and did not get the full 2 liters of water twice. And believe me, I needed it desperately.
  5. Carry your own ibuprofen.
  6. There is no effective way to train to climb a power line right of way, except to climb a power line right of way. We did a lot of practice hikes on rough terrain, but none of that was worth much when I faced the straight up power line hills of doom. (I mean, I’m sure there is, but not for me.)
  7. If you are going to the trouble of carrying a GPS, make sure it has fresh batteries. A .gpx of the trail, complete checkpoints, is only helpful when it works. Mine died about halfway through.
  8. Never underestimate the importance of someone who won’t let you quit. Especially when you are crying on a stream bank 4 miles from the finish. Thanks, babe!
  9. Fla-Vor-Ice is the most amazing thing in the universe! The people along the trail that were handing these out were amazing!

chris on June 25th 2017 in Blogroll, News

Farewell Shadowfax

It is with a very heavy heart that we bid farewell to our big girl, Shadowfax. The Princess. Weasel Alpha. The Big Weasel.

 

Two and half years ago, after our ferret room had been empty far too long, we took a trip to Hide-e-Hole ferret shelter. We came home with three ferrets. Shadowfax was The Boss. She was all muscle, all brain and a little OCD. She was in her new home maybe 15 minutes before she nearly made it over the ferret room’s Dutch door. That was our preview to life with Shadowfax.  Constantly being outsmarted and surprised by what she managed.

The dresser they all loved to sleep in? Yeah, she slept in the 2nd drawer up, because she could. That about gave me a stroke when I couldn’t find her anywhere and in desperation pulled the next drawer open. There she was. “Hi, Mom.” How? How indeed. She’d pushed the second drawer out while standing on the back of the first drawer and then climbed on up. Honest to goodness. That girl.

Our Big Girl loved mousecicles. There was a particular way in which she and Duncan would have them. First Shadowfax would take take the one she wanted. Then after eating the best part first (I’ll spare you the details) she would put the rest of hers in a corner. And then she’d take Duncan’s, whether he was done or not, and place it along side hers.

Shadowfax also had a better sense of time than I ever will. If it was closing in on dinner time, she would go to the kitchen and lay on my feet. If that didn’t work, she’d put her cold little nose up my pant leg. And if that didn’t work, she’d stand on her hind legs and put her front foot on my leg.

If I picked her up, she’d use me a launchpad to try to reach the counter top to get her dinner herself. And if I thought I’d be clever and hold the bag of mousecicles up above her head, that didn’t work out so well. For a little short legged critter, she had a heck of a vertical jump! Chasing her through the house as she ran with her stolen mousecicle was part and parcel of life with her.

One morning I was running late. I walked into the kitchen…to find her on the kitchen table, previously potted plant and soil all over the table and her standing smack in the middle of it staring me down. As far as she was concerned, I needed to get it together! Breakfast was late and that was unacceptable!

Life with Shadowfax was never predictable. One evening I went to their room and the louvered doors to the washer and dryer had been left open a crack. And there she was, standing just where they opened. I called to her. She usually would come right away. But nope, not having any of it that night. So I went to pick her up and she backed up. Which is when I saw what she was guarding….a former mouse, now headless. Oh yes, she’d caught herself dinner. Delightful. I scooped her up and called in Chad to dispose of the remains.

Shadowfax was just over four years old when she came home with us. After a while, Big Weasel developed a bump on the top of her noggin. It was a bone growth; it looked like the nubbin of a unicorn horn. That wasn’t a problem. A cyst formed on top of the bump and that’s what eventually took our little one from us. We thought she’d be with us at least four years, if not longer. It was a terrible shock to lose her at six-and-a-half years old. Our Princess drifted off in her sleep as she lay by my side.  We buried her in the shade of the trees, near a creek, on Chad’s family’s land. Godspeed Big Girl, it won’t be the same here without out you.

chris on November 8th 2015 in Animals, Family, Uncategorized

Portland 2015

After Block Party we drove to Portland to visit with B.

We did some walking around. We did some caching (duh). We did some eating. And also some drinking. You get the picture.

We got to see Mount Hood in all its glory on a beautiful day in the mountains!

Check out the gallery – clickity on the photos to embiggen to viewable size!

chris on August 21st 2015 in Family, Geocaching, Travel, Uncategorized

Geocaching Block Party 2015

Chad, Mom & I flew to Seattle for the last Block Party! (Ok, so it was a pit stop on our way to Portland to visit B.)

Clickity on the individual photos to make them big!

chris on August 15th 2015 in Geocaching, Travel, Uncategorized