Dec 21

It is hard to believe that this year is already over. I remember the anticipation and anxiety at the beginning of this year, looking forward to a possibly complete hike of the PCT. I had my reservation and had spent several years researching the project and planning out all of the details. Much effort was applied to the assembly of 22 resupply boxes that I would need. My equipment was reviewed multiple times in hopes of making my pack lighter, and the equipment to be carried was to be as efficient as possible. The trail maps were reviewed, and my imagination formed the basis of my conception of what the trail might be like (my conception was wrong). Even in late 2018, I was running up hills with a fully loaded pack, and wondering how it would actually be when I was on the trail. I had contacted Huguenot Heritage for possibly turning the hike into a hike-a-thon. I took a very wintery trip out to Moscow, Idaho where Huguenot Heritage is based to discuss plans and accomplish filming.

Even with all the training hikes and planning for the PCT, I also sought to write an autobiography. Over Christmas 2018 I had composed most of the autobiography in my head, and simply needed to write it down and include photographs. There were a few mysteries from my past that I needed to resolve, and was able to successfully accomplish that over the ensuing months before my hike began.

Betsy and I also were busy entertaining our dear friend Phil Mueller who passed away in July. Betsy and I had a heart for him, as he was a highly atypical person. Phil spent time in prison for entrepreneurship in the recreational pharmaceutical market. Prison helped him get over the drug habit and to start taking seriously his Christian faith. He became a very outspoken Christian, but still had some highly unusual quirks, the most important was him being completely oblivious to any form of social correctness when speaking on racial issues or political issues. We look forward to reconnecting with Phil in heaven and still have an empty spot in our hearts for him. One of my favorite physicians, Dr. Werner Peters, an anesthesiologist that I had worked with many times, had a major stroke a year ago, leaving him with profound right hemiplegia. After two years, he is slowly recovering and able to walk, but Betsy and I both have a desire to give him attention and provide help and assistance for him as needed. We’ve been able to do many meals together, and with him being a Thai food addict, it’s been easy to enjoy many meals with him. At Thanksgiving, we’ve finally been able to get him over to our house for a good meal and the entire family enjoyed his presence.

I ultimately accomplished a little more than 1000 miles of the PCT. This venture is chronicled nicely on my blog page and so I will not repeat it. I started at the Mexican border and was able to hike the entire desert section of the trail up to Walker Pass, and then hiked sections in northern California, Southern and northern Oregon, and central Washington. I was ultimately rejected from the trail by a number of factors, the most important being record levels of snow, mosquitos, personal injury (anterior tibial stress syndrome and neck issues), as well as personal issues. I started and stopped 5 times, which led to moderate discouragement. In the end, Betsy and I went to Hart’s Pass (30 miles from the Canadian border) in early September to play trail angels. This was a total hoot and we might do it again next year with a trail angel we met at Hart’s Pass, E.Z. The first break in the PCT hike was at Tehachapi, where I came home to recover from a severe case of anterior tibial stress syndrome (extreme pain in the muscles of the anterior right leg), but also to attend the graduation of our daughter Diane, who achieved a Ph.D. as a nurse practitioner.

In February, I started receiving social security checks, and in August was started on MediCare. I don’t feel old enough, even though the parts (of the body) seem to be giving out slowly. Betsy and I were able to host three people that I met on the trail and needed a place to stay before returning to the trail or to home. These were Alicia (Sailor), Intrepid, and the Flying Dutchman (Michael). All were wonderful people and a total delight to help them in their journey.

In mid-August, while driving home from a training hike on Mt. Peak, my car was rear-ended. It totaled our 10 yo Toyota Tacoma. This meant purchasing a new car, and Betsy and I decided on another Toyota Tacoma, but this time a 4 wheel drive off-road vehicle. We put a canopy on the back and immediately fell in love with it.

In late September, I did my last hike of the season. It was on the Appalachian Trail as a medical conference. This is also detailed in a separate blog post. I flew back to rendezvous with my dear friend Dr. Tate, and we did the conference/trail together, a 35-mile segment in central Virginia, passing by McAfee Gap as well as the Dragon’s Tooth. It was a delight being with Peter.

October and November went quickly. I was quite sore yet from the trail, mostly with neck pain. I went on a diet, avoiding most simple sugars, but the trail leaves you with an unavoidable raging hunger, and I quickly regained all the weight I lost hiking. It’s taken about 2 months to get over most of the soreness of the trail. I thought I was exceptional for having so much post-hike pain but realized in social media discussions that a prolonged recovery from the trail was quite typical. During the Appalachian Trail conference experience, I connected with Dr. Gehner with the intention of possibly engaging in a survey study of long-distance hikers to research what medical problems they might have experienced. I hope we can make this happen.

In December, Betsy and I mostly laid low. Betsy had a Collis-Nissen fundoplication (surgery) for severe reflux disease. It was completely successful, as Betsy has been able to go off of all of her medications and antacids. The surgery was intended to be a short 1.5-hour operation but ended up being much more difficult for the surgeon, taking about 4.5 hours. Fortunately, there were no complications and she was able to return home 2 days after surgery. Two weeks later, Betsy is returning to almost normal activity, though she is going very slow on her diet since a Collis modification of the procedure needed to be performed to lengthen her esophagus. Since I needed to stay home with Betsy, we spent much time watching the impeachment charade. At Christmas, we still don’t have a functioning oven (it gave out on Thanksgiving day) but will still be having family over both Christmas eve and Christmas day. We will be departing to Phoenix soon after Christmas to spend time with Rachel VanVoorst (daughter) and her family.

What about next year? 2020 will be problematic in that I don’t have any major projects to accomplish. There are several things that will keep me active. 1) I will be joining a community college band, playing the trumpet. 2) Betsy and I are going to start learning basic Spanish. We hope to walk the Camino de Santiago together either next fall or late spring 2021. We’ll be taking a conversational Spanish class at the local community college to facilitate that end. In conjunction, I am also reading through the Bible in Spanish, using the RVR 1960 version. 3a) I would like to do more of the PCT. Depending on snow conditions, I am thinking of going from Walker Pass to Old Station, which will connect several portions of this year’s hike as well as take me through the high Sierra. I have a reservation for the PCT in 2020, so need to just do it now. 3b) If I don’t hike much of the PCT, I’ll probably volunteer at Mt. Rainier National Park as a Trail Rover and provide assistance for folk while keeping them on the trails and off of the fragile environment. 4) I’d like to take several more grandchildren on overnight backpack trips. 5) Betsy and I are interested in some car camping trips in the Northwest, 6) possibly play trail angel with E.Z. at Hart’s Pass in early September. 7) Consideration for further bicycle tours? I’m not sure at this time, though doing the Pacific Coast route to San Diego would be fun. Perhaps a loop in Washington State would also provide entertainment as well as a challenge. I’m hoping that Jon and I could do a short trip together. 8) There is a possibility of our son Jon making a major lifestyle change. Betsy and I wait with hopeful anticipation. If it occurs, we will be taking a week or two trip to Thailand for that. 9) My reading habit has dropped off a bit. I still have stacks of books to read. Most of the books are either historical or theological that cannot be read quickly. 10) Time with Betsy. Betsy remains as charming as ever and exploring ways that we can stay active together remain top of my list. She is no longer keen on backpacking, and long-distance cycling is equally out. Hiking the Camino de Santiago makes sense as there is no pressure for distance, there are many places to stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the culture is awesome and food is great, we can sleep in a bed every night, and don’t need to carry much on our back. Plus, we get a certificate of completion at the end which grants us a special blessing from la Papá (for this pope, the article “la” is correct!!!!) and a reduction of our time in purgatory, which already is zero since purgatory is a fiction, though it makes for awesome novels.

January will be a re-starter for me. I will need to get back into strict exercise. Since coming home, I’ve gone to the gym, or ridden my bicycle on a virtual reality trainer in the garage, twice a week. That isn’t enough. I’ll need to visit Moscow, Idaho to bring the hike-a-thon adventure to a closure. I’d like to re-edit my autobiography, add to it and complete it, and then possibly get it printed. Betsy and I always enjoying things together, but much will be determined by how quickly she bounces back from surgery and feels like going on adventures. Only God knows what our year-end story in 2020 will be.

Add comments

5 Responses to “2019 Year-end Review”

  1. Elizabeth in Virginia says:

    A good friend and her husband did the Camino de Santiago in summer 2018. He had done it before. It was a first for her. Never again, she said. Betsy may want to reconsider.

  2. Elizabeth in Virginia says:

    The Camino de Santiago isn’t easy. A good friend of mine did it in summer of 2018 and although her husband enjoyed it (it was his second time), she told me, “Never again.”

  3. Stephen Chambers says:

    I’d rather go with a plant-based/whole-foods diet than end up in a 4.5 hr surgery. We’ve been enjoying it and the results for almost 2 years now.

    We plant-based eaters aren’t missing anything ……except cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc.

    “I have never pursued health hoping for immortality. Good health is about being able to fully enjoy the time we do have. It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives and avoiding disabling, painful and lengthy battles with disease. There are many better ways to die and to live.” ~ Dr. T. Colin Campbell, “The China Study” also featured in the documentary “Forks Over Knives”

  4. Bruder Dennis says:

    Dittos on what Steve Chambers wrote. “It’s the diet, stupid!”, to misquote a past US President.

    “… which grants us a special blessing from la Papá (for this pope, the article “la” is correct!!!!)”

    Ha! Ha! You got that right! For those not into Spanish (and I’m surprised you are learning it, Ken; you weren’t interested the last time I brought it up), the usual reference to the Pope is “el Papa” – “the Father”, but “la papa” means “the potato”.

    Do you know about Malachy, Bishop of Armaugh, Ireland somewhere back in the late Middle Ages? His “vision of the Popes” into the future, to the last Pope, has been rather uncannily accurate all these years. The second to last Pope on the list, predicted to be a Benedictine (“Olivet”) was said to have his time cut short – in this case, by resigning, which is unusual for Popes – and the last Pope, the visionary wrote, is “Peter the Roman”. The present Pope is that last Pope, of the Petrus Romanus family from Italy, and the first Jesuit to become Pope. This is significant in that it is the triumph of the Jesuits – the covert arm of the Vatican – in taking over the papacy, just as the CIA has attempted to take over Washington in various ways. So check out St. Malachy, bishop of Armaugh.

  5. Bruder Dennis says:

    The Way of St. James –
    So I looked it up with a websearch and discovered that since 1985 the number of people about equal to the population of Belize have hiked the trail. What is interesting to me about northern Spain is

    1. That the 1st-century church was prominent in Spain, which back then meant Catalonia, Gallicia – essentially all of northern Spain and southern France, including the Rhone River valley (where Lazarus was a bishop and the two Marys are buried), and Marsillia (Marseilles), an Israelite colony at one time, where Joseph of Arimathea and his small party landed after being exiled by the Sanhedrin, who blackmailed Pilate into it because J. of A. had the political clout (having the Roman title of Nobilus Decurio – in charge of the mines in Dumnonia, now Cornwall, England) to have Pilate hand over the body of Yahowsha (Jesus), which was illegal under Roman law.

    Northern Spain is where Judahites of the clan of Zarah formed a colony (at Segunto, south of Barcelona) after forfeiting their inheritance in Israel (to Pharez, from whom David and Yeshua descended). Various old names in northern Spain are Hebrew, such as the Ebro River and the town of Zaragosa – fortress of Zarah.

    2. Gallicia is the origination point of Judahites who migrated east, sacked Romes a few hundred BC and settled down in Asia Minor., In NT time, the region was called Galatia and Paul worked among (and wrote to) these Zarahites.

    Before you go on this hike, you ought to read some background on the above, to make the whole trip more meaningful. Get some relevant books on the topic. Start with The Drama of the Lost Disciples, George Jowett, Covenant Books, 2004. Also, The Coming of the Saints, by John Taylor, Covenant Publishing, 1906 – 1969, reprinted by from whom both books are available.

    Don’t forget to bring back your sea shell …

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