Hiking Wheeler Peak…

Note: You may have read this post way too early. WordPress hiccuped and I couldn’t fix it. But here it is, in the intended order of posting.

We talked to a local who said that if we started our hike early, we ought to miss the storm that was forecast at Wheeler Peak so Chris, Steve, and I were out the door by 5:00 AM on our last vacation day. Lorna opted to stay back with the kids on their last day in Red River. She and her mom took them on a 4-wheel excursion up the mountain.

We parked the car at Taos Ski Valley (altitude 9439′) and started up the Bull of the Woods trail. This is longer, slightly easier, scenic route to the top, but it’s uphill all the way. It is 2.1 miles to this meadow.

We still have 5 1/2 miles to go to reach the peak. Oh my. This sign got my attention. If you ski, you know that a black diamond means ‘expert’. It may not mean that for this hike, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

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Some parts were only a little uphill, more were really uphill, and there were a few disheartening spots where we went downhill and then had to climb back up. Deep sighs all round.

We walked across snow a few times…

Honestly, our lungs were killing us. As we got higher, we stopped to breathe every 100 steps.

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You reach the 2nd highest point before the you get to the actual peak. And then you hike down a while before turning back up. It was harder than it looked like it would be but we did it. Wheeler Peak, altitude 13, 159′

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The views were amazing!

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This is Chris standing way closer to the edge than Lorna would have been able to tolerate…

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We took the short, steep way down. The first part were switchbacks over a huge granite talus field. I was happy to have on knee braces and to have a real trekking pole because this was the scariest part of the whole hike. No photos, I was focused on not falling.

The last part of this trail intersects with the downhill part of the Williams Lake trail that we had hiked earlier in the week. We went back to the Bavarian Restaurant to celebrate reaching the peak and hiking 11 1/2 miles with more Andechs beer. As we sat there, the rain finally came. Life is good :-).

 

 

More Mountain Hiking!

Steve, Chris, Lorna, and I had planned to hike up Wheeler Peak (the highest spot in New Mexico) 2 days before the end of our trip. Unfortunately, the weather changed and thunderstorms were in the forecast. We could have maybe stood being wet, but not being fried by lightening. Instead, Steve and I hiked the Pioneer trail in Red River.

Pioneer Trail – Easy – 3 miles one way: Next to the Ski Area, this trail built by miners in the gold rush days, begins where Pioneer Road ends. You just might find an old claim as you explore this one.

OK. This is another one of those trails that is all uphill until you’ve had enough and turn around. Who decides what an easy trail is in New Mexico? But it was pretty, and it didn’t rain.

But it had rained the night before. The farther we went, the more water we found. There were 4 places where we either had to wade across or find another route.

In all cases, we opted to go around. Others had gone before us so it was easy to find a way across the streams and get back to the path.

People in 4-wheelers passed us going and coming.

The farther we went, the wetter the path got until it was more stream than path.

We gave up 3 1/2 miles in. Downhill was going to be hard without poles so Steve pulled out his trusty Swiss Army knife and cut us each one. I was both impressed and thankful.

It was a very nice hike and we were happy to have done it, but sorry to not have hiked Wheeler Peak. More on that next post.

 

Mountain hiking…

Our home in Sherman, TX, is 735′ feet above sea level. Red River is at 8671′. We were nearly 8000′ feet higher than normal and my lungs knew it. After taking 2 days to acclimate, we went on our first hike to Williams Lake. The trail begins at the Taos Ski Valley and is nearly 4 miles round trip. You start at 10,191′ and climb about 1000′ to the lake.

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This is supposed to be an easy hike and, in comparison to the next 2, it was. But walking uphill at that altitude is hard work! The kids were not mentally prepared and there was (gasp) a fair bit of whining.

Lorna took the Tula (a kid carrier) and she (mostly) and Chris (some) carried Bear most of the way.

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Bear is tall and weighs 40 lbs. I’m not sure how they did it.

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Jack embraced the challenge about a mile in.

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I always wonder, when I’m hiking, why I am doing it. My lungs were not happy when going uphill and my knees are not happy when I’m going downhill. What is the point? Well, one reason I hike is for the scenery:

The other reason I go on strenuous hikes is to prove that I can still do it!

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There is a Bavarian Restaurant at the end of this hike that serves traditional German food and Andechs beer on tap. Beer was the adult reward, the kids had sausage and lemonade :-).

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Listen to your bits…

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I have spent 24 years drawing with my mouse on the computer. For the last several years, I used Apple’s magic mouse which is touch-sensitive and allows you to swipe across it to move the cursor and it has been wonderful — until a few weeks ago when I was doing a whole lot of drawing in Illustrator.

My right index finger (the mouse-finger) started to hurt, a lot. And it got swollen. And then it hurt worse. It is at this point that many people go into denial. I do not.

I treat my body like a used car. If warning lights start flashing on your car, you take it to a mechanic, right? We should all head to the doctor when our bodies send us similar warnings.

It may not be this way in your town, but here plastic surgeons are the hand guys. I visited Dr. Swamy who has been in practice here a long time and is much beloved. I took my mouse and asked if that was the problem. Yes, it was. I asked if rest would make it better enough to be able to use the mouse again. No, it would not. We agreed that I had to find a new way to draw in the computer and I had to also find a more ergonomic mouse.

 

 

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The mouse was easy. I got a Logitech M570. I’ll have to be careful not to overuse any of my fingers but I can do that.

I won’t be using the mouse to draw. I am, instead, viewing this as an opportunity to buy a tool that I have lusted after — a Wacom Cintiq tablet! (Imagine a quilt-y picture instead of a lizard.)

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The Cintiq tablet is actually a very fancy computer monitor that is touch-sensitive and that you can draw on. It’s similar to the iPad Pro, but you hook to to your computer and the Cintiq mirrors whatever is on screen. I’ll be able draw in Illustrator with a special pen. I’ll be able to use the pen in Photoshop as well, and I’m sure there’s more. I suspect that I’ll be able to move the mouse on the screen with my finger, much like you can on your smartphone.

On the advice of a friend (thank you, Amanda) I got the biggest Cintiq. I have gotten used to using a very big monitor and there isn’t any going back from there. Thankfully, this is piece of business equipment that I should have gotten a long time ago. I think it might actually make me more productive while also helping me to preserve my right hand – my sewing hand!

The bigger issue, and the point of this post, is that you need to pay attention to your body! Don’t ignore warnings, take care of your bits early rather than after damage has been done. Because I said so :-).

 

I’m pretty sure I’m fit…

I started wearing a Fitbit in 2014. I wrote about it here, about losing it here, and then about buying a new Fitbit here. I ended up not wearing the Fitbit Charge for very long. I didn’t like the clasp, I didn’t like the way it felt on my arm, but more importantly I found an Apple Watch that fit me like a glove.

Last summer while we were in Hawaii, on our last night, I went into the Apple store in Waikiki and tried on a watch with a stainless steel band.

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It looks big on my arm in this photo but it doesn’t in real life. This is the utility face. There are several ‘pretty’ faces, but I love this watch because of what you see here. I can tell time, see the day and date, temperature, and (best feature ever) I can set a timer by touching the upper left corner.

I use the timer all the time. Take the cookies out of the oven in 10 minutes? Set the timer. Need a reminder to make a call or go to an appointment?  Set the timer. It can both ding and vibrate to tell me my time is up.

Texts show up on the watch. It is easy to send a simple reply. I could probably send a longer reply using Siri, but I usually don’t. When close enough to an iPhone, you can answer or send calls with the watch. I’ve done that twice, when I couldn’t reach my phone and needed to take the call. It felt (and looked) very Dick Tracy-ish.

I have a sentimental reason for loving this watch. It reminds me of my dad, who died 26 years ago. He loved gadgets, and his watches always had this sort of stainless steel band. My dad would have loved this watch!

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Those of you with Fitbits are wondering how the Apple Watch compares when tracking fitness stuff. I started out using a few of the fitness apps, but I don’t use them much (or at all) any more. In this respect, the Fitbit is better. It is easier to use because it is a much simpler machine.

The biggest surprise I’ve had is that I don’t miss the fitness tracking. I wore a Fitbit for more than 2 years. I thought about my steps, checked them often, and was probably too proud of myself when I was very active.

Once I quit looking checking my steps, it was like a switch got flipped. I can tell by the way my body feels that my activity level is the same as it was but I no longer care how many steps I’ve taken or miles I’ve walked. For a competitive step counter, that has been a real surprise to me.

The Apple Watch was too expensive. I’ll have to wear it a long time, but at this point there’s not another watch I’d rather wear.

Shaking hands with a shovel…

Bruce Taylor’s guys put in our drip irrigation system last week. These brown drip hoses are perfect, but don’t look that great laying on top of the ground. 

   
 

The last time we spread mulch was 2 years ago and it has decomposed. It was time to mulch again. 
We’re lucky that there are big mulch piles that we can use but it is real work to get the mulch from those piles to our yard. It requires shoveling mulch into bins and buckets, driving it home, and hefting it into place.  
 

Steve and I both shoveled. He did the heaviest bin-lifting into the pickup. But I did my fair share of lifting and I was thankful for all those Pilates classes :-). 
  

We started at 7:30am and quit at 3:15pm with a 30 minute lunch break. We are fried but the yard looks great!
  

The mulch pile is much diminished…

 

We celebrated with home-made hot fudge sundaes!

Applique and posture…

I usually hand applique for 2 to 2 1/2 hours each night in my chair with my feet up and my light in the correct spot (over my left shoulder because I am right-handed). For the last few weeks I’ve added a few hours of applique in the afternoon and I’ve noticed that my neck is sore. Darn it! I know it’s because I’m holding my (heavy) head in the wrong place instead of keeping it centered over my body. I also know that I’ve gotten posture-lazy in the last year.

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It is really easy to ignore your posture, letting your head drop and shoulders round forward—gravity is working against us. There are, however, easy exercises that we can do to combat this problem. I know because I googled ‘neck and shoulder exercises’ and found this video.

As I watched the video, I was reminded that this is exactly what my physical therapist recommended when I was first diagnosed with bone density issues. Doing this for 40 seconds, 6 times a day, is not that hard!

However, the warning at the front of the video is true—only do these if your body is up for it. If you are unsure, consult your physician. FYI: I’m not necessarily a fan of chiropractic bending and popping, so please don’t consider this an endorsement of that.

PS: If you are like me, you thought it was funny when he said “if you have trouble finding a corner…”. How hard could that be? And then I had trouble finding a corner in my own house :-).