Day +156, Thursday

Photo of the Day: Andy, with the help of Debbie, left me a lovely new face mask! I love it! Interestingly, 14 months ago, this could have been interpreted as an insult, but today – between my transplant and living during COVID – I’m grateful.
From The Princess Bride – one of the best movies of all time.

Thursday was chilly, but good. Wednesday’s rain had passed, bringing with it arctic-like temperatures with bright sunshine. With the blossoming of tiny blooms and trees turning green, it’s clear that spring is on the way, even if winter is holding on a bit longer. I’ll be honest: windchills in the 20s is not exciting, and I made sure to bundle up for my visit to the NC Arboretum, a gem of a spot in Asheville.

I was fortunate to meet up with my blog friend Alicia and her family from Michigan – they are just lovely and I very much enjoyed my time exploring the winter gardens and walking along Bent Creek with them. I “know” Alicia from way back when, a time when we both raced triathlons and blogged about it – we’ve both been through a lot of life since 2007 (oh gosh, has it been that long?). I can confirm that yes, yes it has been that long. But Thursday’s adventure with them was great; I also enjoyed chatting with her kids, both remarkable in their own way. It makes me feel happy about the world when I meet young people such as these.

Garden Quilt, NC Arboretum

Later, it was a quick stop at the grocery store for homemade pasta sauce, which I almost pulled off making without being late to my Better Together virtual support group. When I finally logged into my meeting 10 minutes late, the other members inquired about my sauce – I was happy to report that it was simmering on the stovetop. Dinner was good – spaghetti squash with my bison & veggie sauce – but the part that made it special was just sitting at the table with Andy and chatting. My friend and hiking partner Christine called at 7:30, so Andy cleaned while I caught up with another wonderful person.

Christine and I have been hiking partners and good friends for about 10 years now. One of the first questions that I ever asked her, after learning she hiked solo, was if she was afraid of mountain lions. She laughed and remarked, never seen one! But we’ve had so many great times backpacking and hiking together – I cherish those trips with her.

Long story short, I casually mentioned that – IF my body was doing OK and IF I was cleared by my clinicians – I was considering backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas this summer, before starting graduate school. She listened and didn’t laugh, so I continued talking. There’s a part of me that would be extremely interested in backpacking the John Muir Trail, a 220-mile hike from Yosemite National Park, down the spine of the Sierra, and finishing atop Mt Whitney (the highest point in the contiguous US). I hiked the JMT in 2018, shortly after learning of my GATA2 diagnosis and leaving an unhappy marriage. It’s wild and crazy but it makes me happy, lights a fire in my belly and is something to strive for. Christine, always supportive, quipped, “its GOOD to have a goal, something to reach for.” We chatted more.

Then she mentioned that she had a mid-July permit for 1 or 2 people out of, “some trailhead along that road that goes through Yosemite.” I paused – Christine is one of the most incredible athletes that I know and while backpacking, I trust her with my life – years of spending time in the back country cultivates that trust. But Christine with directions without a GPS? I probed a bit – is the road from the Eastern side of Yosemite or the West?

“East.” she confirmed.

“That’s the 120, or the Tioga Pass.” I remarked. “If your permit is there and you’re doing a loop, it’s probably something near Tuolumne Meadows or out of Cathedral Lakes.” Later, she confirmed the permit was from Tuolumne Meadows. And that it was for two people, not one.

Suffice to say, my wheels started turning – maybe a trip around Yosemite could be a possibility? She’s already sent me her planned itinerary and with daily averages of 25 miles, that’s likely more than I could comfortably do at this point. She said that we could dial it back – there’s a part of me that is thrilled with the idea, even the possibility of doing a trip with my friend. But I’m also fearful of overextending myself – I suppose it’s not something I’ll have the answers to just yet, and that’s OK. But it has me thinking…and dreaming and planning. And sometimes, that little bit of extra incentive or motivation is just what’s needed, (along with great friends who inspire).

Physically doing OK – Wilma is growing, but overnight was not as painful to the touch. My skin, especially my face, remains sensitive. During yesterday’s group meeting, my friend suggested using a type of Vanicream Bar Soap with Zinc, or “Z Soap”. I’ve ordered some, and we’ll see if this helps my skin. Other than that, this is all I’ve got! Enjoy your Friday everyone!

  1. A loop of the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite is an awesome trip that can S/F at Tuolomne Meadows. I’ve only done before the camps open on July 1, don’t know what it would be like with camps open. Maybe with Covid camps won’t open?

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