Tag Archives: Hiking

Are You A Prophet Of Doom?

“Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.”

I was reading the blog of Austin Kleon who is a self-professed “writer who draws” and he posted these terms that came from Merriam Webster. His entry is a short one, simply saying, “Don’t do it! Take a walk instead.”

I know that it is difficult, but you need to take some time away from the news, no matter what station you watch or websites you traverse on the internet. It is all filled with negative, and if I  may say so, doomsday talk, not only about COVID, but the upcoming election and the racial strife spreading throughout the country.

What makes this entire situation more precarious is the simple fact that many of us have been cooped up in our houses for months and even though we can now go out, you really still can’t do anything. So what do we do? We grab our phones, open our laptops, and start inhaling the overwhelming negativity that the mainstream media calls “news.”

I, too am guilty of this.

So I agree with Mr. Kleon. Put the phone away, close the laptop, and get outside. Or listen to some music. As I am writing this I am listening to a Phish show from 1997. Here’s another stretch-read a book.

Although the physical effects of COVID are undoubtedly real and potentially deadly, so are the mental ones. Wallowing in all of this nonsense can’t be good for you.

Trust me. All of the negativity and hate will still be there when you get back.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Your Physical And Mental Health Count

“Never discredit your gut instinct. You are not paranoid. Your body can pick up on bad vibrations. If something deep inside of you says something is not right about a person or situation, trust it.”-Anonymous

I’ve had a great deal of time since 12/26/19 to think about my new situation and how it has changed my life. An overhaul of my diet, including the total elimination of sugar and fried foods, has changed my physical outlook on life.

Your mental well being, however, is something that they don’t really talk about. When I was in the hospital I got tons of information about the physical side of my recovery. In a small side note on one of the pages, it did mention something about seeking help if you needed it, but that was about it. I did have a colleague who asked me about my mental state commenting that her husband had been depressed after he had his heart attack.

I, however, never felt depressed. Instead, I almost felt reborn as if I had been given a second chance at life. If you think about it, since my odds of surviving open-heart surgery were slim, I really have been given a second chance. I honestly could not think of a reason to wallow in self-pity, instead, I chose to tackle my new life head-on.

Is it sometimes difficult to stay motivated? Of course it is. I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t. But at the end of the day, I’m only 55 and I am hoping that I still have some good years left in me before I venture to the great beyond.

They say that up to 20% of heart attack survivors suffer from depression. What do I wish I had been told prior to leaving the hospital? Here is a shortlist that I got from the Cleveland Clinic.

  • Your negative feelings, such as low mood or lack of experiencing pleasure, persist daily for 2 weeks or more.
  • You find it increasingly difficult to participate in your recovery from heart disease. It is not uncommon for patients participating in cardiac rehabilitation to experience emotional difficulties during their physical recovery. A lack of mental drive or motivation, as well as a lack of confidence may indicate that depression has settled in.
  • You have significant difficulty with your daily routine, social activities and/or work.
  • You don’t have anyone in whom you can confide. If you don’t have anyone to share your thoughts with, it’s hard to know if what you’re thinking makes sense. Depression also has a tendency to make people more withdrawn and isolated, making it harder to receive social support during difficult times.
  • You have suicidal thoughts or feelings. Suicide is an irreversible solution to problems and causes permanent harm not only to yourself, but also to family members and friends. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call your physician or local 24-hour suicide hotline right away, or go to the nearest emergency room for help.

The most important thing is to remember that if you have survived a heart attack you have been given a second chance. Fight every day to improve both your physical and mental health so you can enjoy every day.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

When I Return…

“After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value.”-G.M. Trevelyan

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”-Beverly Sills

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”-Mary Davis

 

So in my time being quarantined because of Covid and my recovery, I have been able to plan my eventual return to the woods. Being a little leery about going out for the first time, my hiking partner of well over twenty years has agreed to accompany me when that glorious time comes. I have decided that my return hike is going to be an old favorite.

Even though I have hiked Anthony’s Nose over 300 times over the years, I still love it and haven’t had the chance to hike it in a couple of years. As I have noted in other posts, one of the attractions to the Nose is that it is pretty much uphill the entire way there and downhill on the way back.  The views are excellent and if we go on a weekday morning, the crowds won’t be so bad. It is unfortunate, but on Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s, trying to hike in peace is impossible.

With that said, the views from the Nose are outstanding. Once you get to the top, it overlooks the Bear Mt. Bridge and Bear Mt. itself. On the way back (or the way there), you can also stop at another viewpoint that gives you excellent views north on the Hudson River.

Depending on how far you want to hike will determine where you start your trip to the Nose. For my return, we will begin and end on the AT at South Mt. Pass. This will be just about a 4-mile hike.

You may be asking yourself why I am telling you this and here is the reason why. I am going stir crazy being cooped up in my house! If I can’t actually get out into the woods, I’ll write about it.

For all of you that can get out, I salute you and take a hike for me!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

It’s Time To Get Back In The Saddle

“Life is short. Go to the mountains and never look back.” -Anonymous

“Having a heart attack felt nothing like how I thought it would feel.”-Anonymous  

This whole Covid virus is really screwing up the start of my retirement. My goal, as small as it may be, was to be at a point now where I could be out hiking. But thanks to the virus, it has not gone exactly as planned.

Ever since I left the hospital on January 3rd, I have had to wear a portable defibrillator just in case I go into cardiac arrest. Originally I was only supposed to wear it for 45 days and then the decision would be made as to whether or not I would need a permanent one implanted, stay with what I have or nothing at all.

What are the factors to get me to one decision or another? It’s something called Ejection Fraction. What is that you may ask?

Ejection fraction (EF) is a measurement, expressed as a percentage, of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction. 

When I had my heart attack, my EF was 8%. A normal EF for adults over the age of 20 is between 53% and 73%. Can your EF be improved? According to my cardiologist as well as what I have researched the answer is yes.

So for 6 months now I have done many things to help improve my EF. I still exercise at least six out of seven days per week, I don’t eat sugar and I also adopted a low sodium diet. The result is a decent amount of weight loss. I also take many medications to address my heart failure.

Now here is the interesting part. Although I complain about not being able to hike because of the virus, being locked down has actually helped in adjusting to my new life. The nine days that I spent in the hospital helped me detox from all of the crap I had been eating and having everything closed prevented me from slipping back into my old eating habits.

So on July 15th I finally go back to my doctor for an echocardiogram. I am hoping that at this appointment I will be given a more concrete plan on how to proceed. It is my hope that I either don’t need any type of defibrillator or they will implant one. The wearable one that I have now is a huge pain in the ass.

Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

I Miss Hiking

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”-Mary Davis

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”-Hippocrates

I miss hiking. Something that I have been doing pretty consistently my entire adult life has taken a back seat to Covid-19 and recovering from my heart attack. What do I miss most? Here is my top ten list:

  1. Being outside.
  2. Being outside with my fellow hikers.
  3. The feel of the earth under my feet as I am walking through the woods.
  4. The breeze rustling the trees and cooling me off.
  5. Taking pictures of the myriad of things that I see on my hikes.
  6. Being able to think without being bothered by anyone.
  7. The isolation. Being able not to think about anything,
  8. Exploring new hikes.
  9. Hiking familiar trails and seeing new things.
  10. Posting my hikes on my blog.
  11. (Bonus) Disconnecting from everything electronic (except my camera).

So, for now, I ride my studio cycle to help with the recovery as well as get in shape for the eventual time that I can get back out into the woods.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

I’m Baaaaack…And Grateful To Be Alive!

“I’m as serious as a heart attack.”-Samuel L. Jackson

“Stress is a major component of cardiac events. It may not cause disease but can trigger a heart attack.”-Anonymous

Hey Folks,

I know that it has been a long time since I posted anything on this site. I am now officially retired from teaching as of 2:46 pm on 3/16/20.

So what am I doing with myself? Let me give you a little background.

First, I’ve had Congestive Heart Failure for just about six years. On December 26, 2019, I had a heart attack and spent nine days in the hospital. The doctors first thoughts were open heart surgery, but after several tests, it was determined that due to the weakening of my heart, I would not survive the surgery. So plan B went into effect. They ended up placing two stents in the arteries that run to the heart.

So, since January 3rd I have been just trying to get my heart stronger. I go to the gym six days a week and try to keep my stress level at a minimum. I have to admit that this has caused a dramatic shift in my lifestyle, especially what I eat. I have always exercised, but I’ve never really paid that much attention to the foods that I ate, Now, I eat tons of chicken, oatmeal, and everything is low fat, low sodium, and no sugar. I haven’t felt this good in a long time,  My cardiologist says with the exercise and vastly improved diet, I should be feeling better.

Now that I am retired, I have all of the time in the world to get to the point where I can back into the woods, hopefully, sooner rather than later. I’m not going to lie-I miss being out there. It has been months since I have felt the soft dirt under my feet, the warm sun on my face and the solitude of just being outdoors. At this point, however, I have to take it slow and listen to what my doctors say.

So what are they saying? I have to go back on 4/6 for an echocardiogram. At that point, I’m assuming they will make a decision as to whether or not I will need a defibrillator placed into my chest. Here’s hoping that they don’t!!!!

So my goals for the immediate future work hand in hand. I need to keep walking on the treadmill to get my heart stronger so I can get back out into the woods. At the same time, the goal is to also have my heart working at a rate where the defibrillator won’t be necessary.

 

Short, Slow And Relatively Easy…

“Mostly, two miles an hour is good going.”

-Colin Fletcher 

This morning was probably the nicest day of the summer. When I got on the trail at 6:30 am, it was 49 degrees. I was actually a little cold as I headed out into the woods but it only took a couple of minutes though for that nice chilly feeling to go away!

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As has been the case almost all summer, I didn’t see a single person the entire hike. Granted, the hike was shorter than most I have done but on a day like today, I expected to at least see some trail runners. That’s ok, the woods were practically silent as I made my way down the trail.

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If you take a left at the tree that is marked instead of going right as the trail markers tell you to, you can add another half of a mile to your hike. Today I didn’t and continued right. Most of the trail at this point is soft dirt with some rocky spots mixed in at different points.

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The picture above marks the beginning of only two short hills on this particular hike. This one is about halfway through the hike and the second one is almost at the end.

One of the cool things about Ward Pound ridge are the bridges that are found throughout the park. Although the ground was wet, I couldn’t see any running water and if you wanted you could just use the rocks on the left to escape the mud.

The rest of the hike was pretty easy. Nice flat trails and as I got closer to the finish, a breeze started blowing that didn’t help with trying to stay warm. But it was nice weather for the end of August.

I can’t complain about any aspect of today’s hike and tomorrow is looking just as good!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #28-8/26/19-3.7-123.7

Now It Feels Like Mid August

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

Wow…at 6:30 am this morning it was 71 degrees with humidity that could have chocked a cat. Since it was so humid, I knew that I was going to take it much slower than I usually do. And believe me, I’m pretty slow on a normal day!

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The trail heading into a curve.

Obviously, since it was so humid, I started sweating immediately. Every step that I took just meant more and more sweat covering me as the gnats circled my head and did their best to infiltrate the liquid defense system I had sprayed on myself prior to the start of the hike. Thankfully they proved to be more of a nuisance than anything else.

As they have been so many times in the past, the woods were almost perfectly silent with the exception of an occasional bird letting me know that I wasn’t alone. It was beautiful! The video below is a minute and five seconds of serenity. This is what it sounded like for the entire hike. You can’t ask for more than this.

On my way out of the woods, I did encounter a group of hikers. They struck me as kind of odd based on a few observations. First, not one of the group (10 people and 3 dogs) had a pack. Second, with the absence of packs was also the absence of water. And third, they were all dressed as if it was late October. The first thing that I thought was if they were wearing jeans and jackets and had no water, how could they hike for any distance? With the warm temperatures and high humidity, it could make for a potentially dangerous situation.

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I have no idea why I took a photo of my boots. I was sitting on a rock, taking a break when it struck me to just take a picture of my boots. Hmmm……

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #27-8/17/19-4.6-120.0

The Humidity Is Here To Stay

We are wind, we are wind
And we can’t hold on
Hold on to anything we see that’s gone
We’re gone in a heartbeat, fleeting, it’s gone
We are wind, we are wind
We crumble into nothing, we are wind
Two parts me, folded together
For one brief moment everything fits
The sun

-Trey Anastasio

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A shelter not too far from the start of the trail. You could easily bring small children for an overnight at this shelter.

Today was an interesting day at Ward Pound Ridge. I did a really nice 4.3-mile loop and I actually saw two people trail running. I almost never see anyone when I’m out hiking early in the morning but today I saw two people. That is almost unheard of! The first guy would have scared the hell out of me but he had the common courtesy to yell, “good morning” when he was about 20 yards behind me. Good thing that he did because I was in a good rhythm and had no idea he was there.

The news said last night that it was supposed to be less humid this morning than it has been. I really didn’t find that to be the truth and ended up sweating like it was going out of style. With that said, it was still nice enough out and the promise is that the humidity is going to stay with us for the next three or four days. I can’t wait.

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A connector trail on today’s loop. 

So even with the promise of really high humidity in the morning, I’m already planning tomorrows hike. If you have noticed, I have kept the hikes at just around four to four and a half miles. I think it would be a good idea to keep it at that for a little while longer.

When the weather gets cooler I’ll probably think about some longer hikes but with the weather the way it is, hydration has to be my main concern. Gatorade Zero before, during and after the hike as well as 96 ounces of water. Of course, then the rest of the day will be spent getting rehydrated.

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One of the more interesting rock formations on the hike,. 

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #26-8/15/19-4.3-115.4

Back On My Feet, Again

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey.”

“Injuries are our best teachers.”

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The view at the start of the hike an hour later than usual.

Being injured sucks. Not being able to hike sucks. Even if it’s only for a few days. Last year I couldn’t hike for half of the year because of the surgery on my ankle, and over the course of the last couple of weeks, my left knee has been bothering me. Bothering me to the point where I haven’t been able to hike or ride the stationary bike.

Is my injury a result of getting older? Overuse? Could it be genetic? I know that many in my family have bad knees and maybe it’s now my turn. I certainly hope not. Some of my family members can’t walk a straight line these days. The fact that I have been very, very careful with what I have been doing the last few months has me thinking really hard about what could have caused it. With that said, the bottom line is I need to get back out into the woods.

I am going stir crazy. Utterly crazy.  If you follow my blog, you know that hiking is my refuge, the thing that I do when I need to think or blow off steam. When I can’t hike, I get really cranky.  As it stands right now, I am in super cranky mode.

So today to I headed out into my sanctuary to see how the knee feels.

I actually picked a decent day to head back out. I ended up starting about an hour later than I am used to, but that’s ok. When I got up at 5, there was no way I could get out of bed so I waited until 5:30 and pretty much walked out the door. When I got to Ward Pound Ridge, it was a crisp 59 degrees with a slight breeze. This is not typical weather in our area for mid-August. At this time of year, we are usually looking at a great deal of heat and humidity, even at 5 or 6 am.

Needless to say, my knee didn’t feel that bad. I did make sure to keep the pace relatively slow and I avoided any rocks that looked sketchy. I know that sounds kind of wimpy, but I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore than I already was (or had been).

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More huge rocks at Ward Pound Ridge.

The picture below represents parts of the Leatherman’s Loop. As with most of the trails at Ward Pound Ridge, they are made of soft earth and tend to be rolling rather than steep ups and downs.

Overall I would call this hike a success. It was nice out and even though I started later than I have been, I didn’t see a single person. Pure bliss!!!!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Hike #25-8/12/19-4.5-111.1