Part two-‘You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them’ – and The Pacific Crest Trail

“Sometimes in life we choose opportunities to test our limits; sometimes we must simply deal with what is.”
– Kirk Sinclair

It was August 7th, south of Crater Lake (Southern Oregon), at the end of a Humanity Hikers post I see the above words. (http://www.humanityhiker.com ) A statement that really came home for me and so I am sharing it with you on the opening of this post. It seems like a good Be Here NOW statement! Our opportunities, our limits, our possibilities — sometimes we get to choose —sometimes we don’t!

The heading for that particular post of Kirk’s was Limits. In the second paragraph of his post he says, “Occasionally at a road crossing we see an inspirational note for thru-hikers pinned up. One such note near Little Hyatt Reservoir read: “You’ll never know your limits unless you push yourself to them.”  It got Kirk to do some reflection on his past PCT hike, and now his present one with his current challenges. I will let you read his words on your own — http://www.humanityhiker.com/limits/. As for me, I can’t read that and not drift into my own thoughts — what are my limits and boundaries that I am personally and professionally pushing? What are the things I simply must accept and “deal” with? Always good to think and about. Always good to be mindful of. Always good to have some clear thoughts on. I hope you give some thoughts to your own journeys, spend a little time and labor over the thoughts, I can almost guarantee it will be time well spent. I am all for following the path and the flow, but that must be accompanied by, and with, mindfulness. The river and current do indeed glide where they want, but you direct your own boat!

In early August, two friends joined in the PCT hike (Mike and his girlfriend Jill) and they are now hiking what Kirk calls “high country.”  Skirting around “Three Fingered Jack and a long approach to the ever looming Mt. Jefferson. At one point we joked that we must be in the Twilight Zone, as we would hike around a similar looking knoll to an open view of the towering strato volcano, without it looking much closer. Only once we got to Jefferson Park did we see the mountain in its full majesty, though obscured somewhat by the haze of recent fires…My knees were aching that night from over 16,000 feet of elevation change in two days, but all together they were full days worth the cost.” The next post he mentions there was a 10,000+ feet elevation change over 22.6 miles. O.K. – let’s be real -the mileage alone is impressive! Add the elevations changes, backpacks , etc., and it is actually a bit intimidating as well as awesome! By the way, he does also say-“I foresaw lots of ibuprofen in my future.” That made me feel a teeny tiny little less sluggish and unfit! …Then again — a rain deluge falls on them. …”After about 20 minutes, the rain abated and we continued on. We first saw the beautiful results of a cloudburst. Flowers sparkled with raindrops, and mists rose like smoke from the distant valleys. Yet we were traversing the spurs of an imposing mountain. In between those spurs were creeks to be crossed, creeks now swollen from the funneled waters of a cloudburst streaming down between those spurs.” I can only imagine how beautiful that must have been!

Montage

It is now mid August (8/16) and the gang is actually on a rest day! They are at Kirk’s sister-in-laws house and getting ready to hike what is apparently the “the most remote, rugged section of trail a section in Washington State. I figure if we complete this section we’re golden.” The post is in actuality about the strange and mysterious ways the brain can work. It is called A Conundrum, and it is an interesting view into what/how actions, reactions, sights, senses, and exercise can work with our brain synopsis. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/a-conundrum/) – Very interesting and worth a read!

August 19 and they are driving up to Rainy Pass (a mountain pass on State Route 20 in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State.) Here they are to begin the potentially most difficult section of trail. As they arrive they were greeted with an “increasing parting of the clouds. When we crested at Cutthroat Pass we witnessed what John Muir once phrased as “a new heaven and new earth” with a new panorama of steep, snowfield blotted mountains before us. So this is what the North Cascades looked like! Wow! Right up there with John Muir’s Sierra.

The North Cascades
The North Cascades

They had a forced rest day – “The trailhead bulletin board at Rainy Pass announced that three sections ahead were obstructed by blowdowns and washouts. There was a reroute around the section north of Harts Pass, but that was marked by blowdowns as well. Anticipating the worst, as is wise to do for Cindy’s affliction, we had to conclude that reaching the Canadian border might be impossible for us. We arranged for Charissa to meet us at Harts Pass for that contingency. I started thinking in terms of an incomplete thru-hike, not uncommon, as we met several thru-hikers that skipped sections that were rerouted on roads because of forest fire.” Now, you may, or may not, have been paying close attention, but this seems like a very big statement to me. Kirk goes on to say in a few days later posting, that they will indeed keep going until Thanksgiving, doing their “long hike” now (which by the ways means 2,000+ miles!!!!!), and that hopefully, next year they will return to finish up the last parts/bits they cannot complete this time around. Charissa has a cold and so is doing the support role and to boot gets a flat tire… a very scary realization that indeed rocks FALL on the road and a beach ball size rock had rolled into the road a little further down from the flat tire happening… Mike is indeed with them so I imagine that is a plus… but Cindy is in tears, “while up on that beautiful ridge, a tearful “hiking is not fun anymore.” I (Kirk) knew changes needed to be made; I (Kirk) put my arm around her and discussed what those changes would be.”  Clearly a bit of a rough ride, but there is more to come. Posted on August 24, Kirk says “All along the Stevens to Rainy Pass stretch worried me the most. This was the longest stretch with the longest climbs on our journey.” It was clearly a tough 3 or 4 days. It is much than I can do justice to with a recap- so again I provide you with the link, enabling you to read it first hand. http://www.humanityhiker.com/when-a-cold-is-good-news/ I will tell you the result was a few changes, shorter mileage days, and a rest day every 5-7 days.

This seems like a good “golden rule” to end up on at this point.

‘Our original goals have changed, but not our resolve.

And so that takes us to today — next weekend happens to be Kirks birthday. If you hike over to his site-send him your good wishes for another year of goodness and hiking.

My next post about The PCT journey willbe an interview from Diggerfoot to Kirlk.
Stay tuned!

Holidays, Alzheimers, Exercise for Brain Health Research, and the PCT

As we here in North America settle into Labor Day Weekend, I will use these “holiday days” to post a tribute to my friend, and his labors of love for his wife and their cause.

You may (hopefully) remember my post of the introduction of Diggerfoot and so my friend Kirk. Kirk, his daughter Charissa, and his wife Cindy, are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with, and for, Cindy’s bucket list. Cindy has Alzheimer’s. The couples core is as long distance hikers, or as they seemed to be called, thru-hikers. As a couple they have traversed the country (The Continental Divide Trail,) hiked the Appalachian Trial and this is Kirks second time on the PCT. Compleating the three is called the Triple Crown. It’s a desire of Cindy’s to have that accomplishment, matching her husbands. As Kirk so clearly stated on his website, and I want to remind you…”We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.”

Cindy-and-Charissa

Flowers-Sierra2

I will take two consecutive posting here on The Botanical Beauties & Beasties site to try to recap some of what I found the enticing tidbits of info and fact from the first two months of their journey. These two postings may be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you will find them compelling and that they tempt you to connect to Kirks blog and find out more about their cause and journey. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/) ~

The hike began at Snoqualmie Pass. This pass is about 45 minutes from the Seattle Metro area and is part of Rocky Mountains. It was a little tougher than expected the hikers had a false start. From Kirk’s blog -“We spent our whole first day in the snow, also struggling to find the trail. The day never climbed above freezing…” So here in MA we were enjoying all the summer trimmings and they were in snow! For a few reasons, Kirk makes the call and they turn back. He decides “We would go further south to start our hike north to the Canadian border, precisely at Mackenzie Pass in Oregon. I also resolved that we really had two goals. One was to get Cindy the Triple Crown. The other, and more important, was to enable Cindy to enjoy life, even at the cost of the other goal.”

With this change of their plans they have created  “a “flip flop” thru-hike in order to stay away from snow and make the hiking easier for one not as sure of foot as she once was.….Our first day out from Mackenzie Pass, after first hiking through a lava field reminiscent of a moonscape, we encountered over a mile of hiking on snow, followed by burned forests littered with extensive blowdowns. This was not making hiking easy for Cindy but I made the call to go on this time because the snowfield was on gentle slopes, no steep traverses, and burned forests don’t go on forever.”

Sonora-Pass-View2
Panoramic views!

Now, they are on track, up at 10,500 feet, they have climbed out of Sonora Pass and have an amazing panoramic view. Sonora Pass northern boundary is Yosemite National Park, and it also where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Hwy 108 for those of you who know roads! With an elevation of 9,620 feet, it is the second highest paved pass in the Sierra Nevada range. By early July the gang is in the S. Lake Tahoe area. Kirk is running support and a self-appointed Sherpa to make this journey possible. He says in his posting that “I think is one of the most beautiful stretches along the PCT, the Desolation Wilderness.” I read that the temps are in 80’s, I haven’t read bad words about snow for a few postings now, and the trip seems to be moving along. I am glad for them.

A July posting is called Collapsing Tent Poles. Cindy is struggling with daily tasks and  towards the end of his post Kirk says- “At times like this you wonder why you would continue with this. The answers come from Cindy. We are always meeting other hikers and tell them something about what we are doing. To one group I gave the report on how exercise is the only thing shown to actually regenerate brain tissue. Cindy chimed in cheerfully: “Yep! That’s why I’m out here! …. Well, and I love hiking.” The positivity that Cindy demonstrates, and the strength they all show, is proof of the wonders of the human spirit when we, as people, need to call it up, somehow it seems to rise to the occasion! If you are mindful of it, you can witness this all the time in our daily lives. The struggles are unique to our own paths, and each one is equally important to the individual facing the challenge.

A few days later and the group is about 10 miles N. of Sierra City, headed over to hike the Sierra Buttes section of the PCT. “As we descended into Sierra City we finally got down low enough to be out of the snow.” (Amazing out here on the East coast we were enjoying a very lovely summer! Sun and no snow thank goodness!)…By mid July I am seeing posting that mentioned Cindy and her gang are hiking 20 miles a day! Impressive!

SNOW!
SNOW!

This posting is from Kirks blog on July 26, and the three hikers are back close to where they actually tried to start their hike originally. Remember that a 10 mile snowfield turned them back around to begin elsewhere!  “We were just a few miles into the Three Sisters Wilderness…As we tackled this section south of Mackenzie Pass on July 22 there were no ten mile snowfields. Indeed, I failed to remember how spectacular the scenery was through here, a source of continual awe were it not for being focused on the footpath. The lava fields made for some tough footwork for Cindy, as did the snowfields. For though they did not last for ten miles the patches occurred frequently over such a length.” Day two of that section, and thunderstorms hit…rain, drizzle, and cold, created this sentence. “All rain gear not made of rubber, to my knowledge, have a saturation point. Ours had reached that in the continuing rain. Wet and cold, I knew Cindy faced hypothermia conditions. After only three miles I knew I had to find a campsite soon.” As expected, they weathered the storm … one of the most heart warming moments in my readings of Kirk’s post is what he wrote after setting up a campsite, cold, wet, and in that storm – “This was the essence of us as a couple: content in our sleeping bags after a day’s hike, weathering the storm. This was normal for us; the way things should be. I looked over at Cindy and absorbed the music, knowing just how fleeting such “normal” moments now are. I wanted to freeze and hold onto that moment forever.”  http://www.humanityhiker.com/weathering-the-storm/  As Kirk stated, the experience had created a new normal and they had gotten thru it all. An interesting question for us to think about. That concept of “normal” and how it is really a very wide dynamic range for most of us and pretty much most of the time! Do you have a new “normal”? Is yours ever evolving? I know mine is.

So I will end this post here – and in a day or two, I will ”recap” the best I can the August postings! Catching us all up-to-date, and hopefully a little more “aware.”

As I write those words, I can’t help but also be reminded of all the awareness that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the ALS issue. There are so many important places, things, and issues that call for our attention and awareness these days!

 “Slowly, I witness the constants in my life fade around me. All things must pass. I just wish we could have more control in the manner of their passing.” – Kirk Sinclair

 

It’s always a good thing to join in and help others.

This post will begin a new mini series for us.

Tractor
Heirloom Charlie on his upcyled, recyled tractor getting ready to do some organic farming!

Last year we tried to help out with the use of Heirloom Charlie. He was introduced to you all in May 2013, and with each sale of an Hieloom Charlie product I stated I (as The Botanical Beauties & Beasties) would donate 15% to Long Life Farm. The hope was to help out a family in need to be able to obtain a CSA farm share within the Long Life CSA program. This translates into the ability for a family to eat fresh organically grown vegetables that has been grown locally without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. Well, last weekend I am proud to say I did indeed write a check for the intended purpose. I was not able to raise enough to buy a whole share, but Laura (one of the owners and farmers of Long Life Farm) told me that the Botanical Beauties check brought the total up to the needed $ amount to indeed obtain a share for a lucky family. Other shareholders had also donated monies, and this check just happen to be that last part. I find that wonderful in a strange and magical way. I am thrilled to be able to help out in this small fashion.The website for Long Life Farm is http://www.longlifefarm.com. I  find the site engaging and hope you take a minuet to check it out. It is filled with all sorts of good information! 

Another cool piece of this story is that Heirloom Charlie is also a main character of our new book! The book is coming along nicely-I think we may do some test marketing at The Hopkinton Farmers Market this summer. (Sundays 1-5 Hopkinton, MA.) If you are interested, and particularly if you know anyone in publishing, please let me know! Heirloom Charlie now has a new nick name- the (working) title of the book is The Food Dude!

Now, on to one last piece of business for this post.

Our helping this summer will come as blog postings and a new character called Diggerfoot. Diggerfoots purpose is to help a friend of mine who’s name is Kirk. He, his wife (Cindy), and a daughter (Charissa) will start hiking the 2,666 mile Pacific Crest Trail in a few days. Cindy has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In his own words- from his website http://www.humanityhiker.com“We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.” To see, how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit his website. Kirk will naturally be writing about their hike, my postings will be an additional outlet to let more people follow their path, and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s. Naturally, my post will link to Kirks site which has a plethora of resources and a place where one can donate if you care to help the cause in that way. So get your hiking shoes tied and get ready for a long distance hike from Canada to the Mexico boarder! Next posting on the trip you will get to meet Diggrfoot and see how the trip is going. These post will be peppered into the “normal” Botanical postings, and DIggerfoot will be acting as an interviewer looking to share a bit of the adventure with you all!

Glorious Flowers

Jolie Morning Glory  with Dalia Hat

I’ve always loved the wild abundance of Morning Glories when they take off. This vine self seeded from the other side of the porch. It makes me happy to see it every morning, it’s a summertime joy! Given all of the Morning Glory characteristics  I particularly like the statement from below-representing the renewable nature of love.

“The morning glory flower blooms and dies within a single day. In the Victorian meaning of flowers, morning glory flowers signify love, affection or mortality. In Chinese folklore, they represent a single day for lovers to meet…The tubular star-shaped morning glory flower primarily symbolizes affection, according to the Victorian Bazaar website. The flowers blossom in the morning and die by afternoon or nightfall, making it representative of the sometimes fleeting nature of affection. But the vine produces new flowers every day during its growth season, representing the renewable nature of love.

  • Victorian Tradition: When the language of flowers began in the Victorian era of the 1800s, morning glories signified love and affection, according to Victorian Bazaar. Given morning glory flower’s short lifespan, it also signifies unrequited love.
  • Chinese Lore: A traditional Chinese tale attached the morning glory to young lovers Chien Niu and Chih Neu, according to the Living Arts Originals website. When the pair fell in love, they neglected their duties in caring for water buffalo and sewing. In anger, gods separated the lovers on opposite sides of the Silver River and allowed them to meet just one day each year.
  • History

    • Wild morning glories have been traced back to ancient China where they were used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. The Japanese first cultivated the flower for ornamental use in the 9th century. Aztec civilizations used the juice of some morning glory species native to Central America to create rubber-like substances, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Priests prized the hallucinogenic properties of the seeds for use in ceremonies.”

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/about_6519699_meaning-morning-glory-flower_.html#ixzz2cXZQgvPN