Thursday, November 20, 2014

Not What We Planned

 

On our last hike in Zion up to the West Rim trail, Jim’s left leg was bothering him and he felt like he was more winded than normal. That is a very steep trail going up Walters Wiggles, and I wasn’t having the best time climbing it myself. The following day he had a hard time putting weight on his leg, but as he was up and walking around it started feeling better. We did a little biking and some easy hiking over the weekend, but it was still bothering him some. A few days ago he noticed his calf was swollen. A Google search for swollen calf and leg pain suggested a deep vein thrombosis, something Jim had been examined for in the past but which just turned out to be superficial clots of his varicose veins, which he was told not to worry about.

I finally convinced him to go to the ER since it was not getting better, so this is where we spent our day, and where Jim is spending the night. St. Rose Dominican Hospital (Sienna Campus) in Las Vegas. Not a bad place, but very busy. As I write this there is no room at the inn, so he is still in the ER hallway. Not good.

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The ultrasound and CT showed he surprisingly had deep vein thromboses in both legs and multiple pulmonary emboli in his lungs. Not the diagnosis we wanted to hear, but he was started on anticoagulants and they are keeping him overnight. He joked about wanting to use his new Medicare, but this really isn’t what he meant.

The internist who came to talk with us said Jim should see a hematologist, so he will be following up at the Mayo Clinic while we are there next month. Last year he had tests run to see if he had a blood disease or genetic factor that may have caused the superficial clots, but all of those tests were negative, so they just recommended low-dose aspirin which apparently didn’t do the trick. The ER doc said that he has seen a good number of people of all ages with DVTs and PEs where nothing ever turns up on the testing.

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Another exciting day in the life…I would much rather be hiking. And although we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, I sure do miss him when he isn’t here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Back at Government Wash, Lake Mead NRA

 

We enjoyed the past several quiet (although cold and windy) days at our very private site near Overton, joined on our last day by Winnie Views Lynne, although we could just barely see her roof. Jim did more tweaking of the new computer, and I piddled around doing household things that had been neglected. We also rode our bikes and took walks from the campsite. It was just what we needed.

Today was a short 44 mile drive to Government Wash, a popular dispersed camping area in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. We stopped to dump our tanks and get water at the Callville Bay campground and will probably hang around here until we need to dump again.

We forgot how scenic it is along Northshore Drive.

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Brian and Leigh (Aluminarium) invited us to park by them, and just as we arrived a big Alfa Class A pulled up. It was their friends Norm and Lisa (Those Young Guys).

Luckily there is plenty of room for everyone. We had happy hour outside until it got too cold, then Leigh had invited us to dinner for vegan stroganoff, and I made a salad. A pleasant evening.

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The water level in Lake Mead is extremely low.

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The Government Wash boat launch is closed, and obviously has been for awhile judging by the size of the vegetation that’s grown up in the dry lake bed.

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Being just 15-20 miles from Henderson/Las Vegas, we will definitely be paying a visit to Trader Joe’s and Total Wine over the next couple of days, and hopefully get to do some hiking.

And maybe even some of this.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Last Zion Hike and Moving On

 

We’re not in Utah anymore, Dorothy.

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Yesterday morning we looked at the weather forecast and decided it was time to move on. What had been a small chance of rain was now up to 70-80% for Friday. Being camped on an already rutted, bad dirt road, we were concerned we might get bogged down in mud if it really did rain much. So we joined the Box Canyon gang for one last hike in Zion, up the West Rim trail, the one which also goes up Walter’s Wiggles to Angels Landing.

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We got separated from the group due to Jim going back to the car for something and thought we might be able catch up, but that didn’t happen. Bypassing the turnoff for Angels Landing, we continued climbing up the West Rim trail.

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We did catch up with Debbie, who had turned around, so Jim went back with her. I continued up the trail and saw Laurelee coming down so I walked back with her.

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Laurelee, is that you?

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I really love the scenery in that section of the park.

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After we got home from the hike we packed up and drove to the Walmart in Hurricane, Utah where we spent a quiet evening. After a little shopping this morning we made our way to Nevada, to a nice dispersed camping area near Overton where we stayed last year. Of course the rain never materialized, but we were planning to leave on Sunday, anyway. And it’s warmer here.

We’ve had a wonderful time hanging out with friends the past couple months, but we plan to take a few days to relax by ourselves and recuperate from some aches and pains from all that hiking. It’s been great fun, though.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Senior Moments

 

A dozen seniors exploring Many Pools on ZIon’s east side. Check out Box Canyon Blog for the rest of the story.

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We discovered a cool slot canyon and had to see how far we could go.

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We’re climbing up there??

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I can get up a lot of places, but it’s the getting back down that’s tricky. Many of us needed a little help from our friends.

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Group hike on BLM land, Virgin, Utah. 12 people, 5 dogs. We could never get a photo of all the dogs together. The Boonster and Coffee Girl joined us, along with Lynne and Millie.

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After a couple miles through an interesting wash we had to do some bushwacking to find the road back.

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On Sunday Suzanne and Bobbie joined us for a 17 mile bike ride up the Pa’rus trail through ZIon Canyon. The shuttles are still running on weekends during November so it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves.

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Unfortunately Bobbie got a flat tire on her new bike and Jim had a horrible time trying to get the tire back on.

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Then it flatted again about 5 minutes down the road. Luckily the shuttles have a bike rack on the front so Bobbie and her bike hitched a ride back to the visitor center.

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It was a gorgeous day for a ride along the Virgin River.

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Yesterday we all went back up Kolob Terrace Road to the Wildcat trailhead, where we hiked to Mark and Bobbie’s tripod rocks. Although we did the same hike last year, we would have never been able to find them had they not been along. Heck, they’ve done it about 6 times and still had a disagreement about which way to go. We can still hike but we don’t remember much!

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A tough hike with lots of up and down on slickrock, but we were all alone in the middle of Zion. Very cool!

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I’m sure one of these days you can read more about these adventures on Take to the Highway and Winnie Views.

In between all the hiking, we returned the Acer computer due to a malfunction, which Jim spent way too much time trying to figure out. The tech finally had him reset everything to the way it was out of the box, which did not fix the problem. We now have a Dell Inspiron 15, which we hope will be more reliable.

We also squeezed in the movie Interstellar at the Zion IMAX Theater, with dinner at Pizza and Noodle afterward. I thought the movie was just okay, but everyone else seemed to like it. Part of my problem was sitting for 3 hours. It was way too long! The pizza was very good, though.

And finally, I haven’t posted a cat photo in awhile. They were especially cute one recent morning, wallowing on the bed. I do love them when they’re sleeping!

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Zion Narrows: Come and Get Your Feet Wet

 

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Most visitors to Zion have heard about the Narrows, a deep, narrow canyon along the North Fork of the Virgin River extending 16 miles, with rock walls towering over 1,000 feet high. When the gang was discussing the hike I quickly said to count me in. Jim had no interest, not being much of a water person, and not crazy about the idea of trying to hike for miles on slippery rocks in a cold canyon with wet feet.

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We decided to rent some gear to try make the hike more comfortable, planning a late afternoon stop at Zion Outfitter the day before to try things on for size and have them in the car ready for the next morning. I was beginning to have my doubts about whether or not I even wanted to go based on the air and water temperature (46!) There are few places in the canyon where the sun even reaches, and I would much rather be too hot than too cold, so did I want to spend $41 (actually $44 with tax) on shoes, neoprene socks, and dry pants and still be miserable, cold and wet?

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Well, we had so much fun trying on the gear, I decided I  just had to give it a try. I would wear lots of warm layers and if I couldn’t make it very far, so be it. Thermal underwear tops and bottoms, my warmest insulated cycling jersey, nylon hiking pants, and a windbreaker. Also in my backpack were gloves, ear pops, and my biking arm warmers, all of which I ended up wearing. The dry bib pants actually kept our legs warm and dry, and the boots and neoprene socks kept our feet surprisingly warm even though they were wet. I was really impressed.

And weren’t we stylish? All except Mark, that is, with his denim shorts! Laurelee, Bobbie, Debbie, Mark and Suzanne.

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The clarity of the water made it easy to see where we were stepping, and the boots gripped the rocks so well it was not as hard as we thought it would be to walk through the river. Except where the current was really strong and made it hard to put a foot down. I was glad I brought both of my hiking poles.

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In order to get to the Narrows you first have to hike a mile on the paved Riverside Walk from the Temple of Sinewava, the last parking area/shuttle stop in Zion canyon. Laurelee, Debbie and I carried our gear and changed shoes and put on the dry pants at the end of the paved trail. Mark, Bobbie and Suzanne put theirs on at the cars. I was concerned about walking a mile in those boots, which were a bit too big, and that way I was able to get out of the wet boots and socks and put my Keen sandals back on for the last mile to the car after getting out of the river.

I’m guessing we hiked in the river at least 50% of the time, with the rest being on the sandy, rocky banks. The water was ankle to knee deep for the most part, although we did have to go through a few mid thigh sections.

Debbie checking the depth.

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Our only casualties were Mark taking a little slip and fall and dunking his camera, and Suzanne letting go of her hiking stick, which floated away in the fast current never to be seen again. Here is just a sampling of the many photos I took. I left the Lumix at home and used our old Nikon with the non-functioning zoom just in case I took an unplanned swim.

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We hiked in a little over two miles to Wall Street, and took a little detour through Orderville Canyon on the way back. We spent about four hours in and out of the water. I have a hard time picking favorites, but this is definitely one of those hikes I will always remember.

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I would highly recommend renting the boots, socks and pants, unless you go in the heat of the summer. It was worth every penny, and the scenery is priceless. Thanks to the gang for encouraging me to go along!