~ Intertwining Lives ~

Memoirs, Life's Journey, Fitness/Health, Hiking/Trailing!


Trailing and Other Things ~ September 28, 2014

I know, I know, I know. I told myself that I would write monthly. Ha. I did NOT reach that goal. Oh well ~ ~ I keep trying!

Over the last eighteen months, I have logged nearly 1,000 miles walking and hiking. I’m am extremely PROUD of this accomplishment. Eighteen months ago I was terribly out-of-shape. Walking a half mile hurt my ankles, knees and hips. I still get sore and have pain, but it is tolerable. I’m not fast, but I have shaved minutes off my pace mile.

I live in the Phoenix area and I am so excited that October is around the corner. The humidity will be nearly non-existent and the temperatures will below 100, consistently. The hiking season is upon us. Yea!

During the summer of 2013, I was only moving from those half miles to being able to complete three to four miles. Last fall, I was able to complete five to six miles consistently, and sometimes reaching seven, eight or ten miles.

I loved my ten-mile hikes, but I felt I was far too slow and my breathing seemed especially heavy. I kept up my perseverance, though. And thank you to my family and friends who were patient with me on our hikes. I know I slowed us down, but we always seemed to make it to the finish line.

I walked many trails around the valley, including trails in the White Mountains, the Estrella Mountains, the McDowell Mountains and others. Hiking these trails, when I was alone, was comforting in that there were other trailers, runners, bikers, and walkers. Also, when I hit my “block” (inability to go further), I would get to the road and hitch a ride to my car. Everyone looked after each other and if it looked like you were struggling or needed help, someone would come along and ask if you needed help. Because of these kindnesses, it was easy to ask others whether they needed help. Although I have hitched rides, I have also given rides to hikers in distress. It’s a wonderful world out there of comradery.

Not everything was good, though. I wanted to build my strength and get help with getting some weight off, because my walking and hiking was not enough to accomplish this.

So I checked out several local fitness centers. My only real criteria was that they have a female fitness trainer. I was adamant about this, as I simply was too embarrassed to have a male trainer. None of the other fitness centers could guarantee me a female trainer. I guess that was my first clue that I ignored. Tyrell, my salesman at the Avondale LA Fitness Center, assured me that they had an “excellent” female trainer. He assured me that I could always have a female personal trainer. Tyrell also indicated that Danielle, the personal trainer, was “well liked” by her clients. LA Fitness does not give you a contract to read. The contract was up on Tyrell’s computer screen and he gave me an electronic pad to sign my contract. The membership was $29 a month. The personal training I signed up for was $320 a month. This was two sessions a week. The contract was a one-year contract. So, this was not an inexpensive endeavor, but I want the “forced” consistency and paying for it would keep me going.

I know I should have insisted that I read the entire contract and I should have put a hand-written clause in the contract about having a female fitness trainer. Shoulda, coulda, woulda…., as I later found out that the contract had a sentence that claimed they could not guarantee an availability of a trainer.

At my first training session, Danielle informed that she would conduct a baseline of my skills, but she could not be my trainer. She had no more room for any more clients. Danielle told me that she had told Tyrell this, and she was upset that she had to tell me that she could not be my trainer.

I immediately went back to Tyrell and told him I wanted to cancel my contract. Tyrell went through his sales pitch again and found me a female trainer at the Goodyear location. I accepted this because I really wanted some personal training and Goodyear was closer to me in location.

Sabine became my trainer. She was great. We had a few weeks of training when I started bleeding excessively.  This was seven years post-menopause. I called my doctor, who wanted to see me immediately. She sent me to a GYN. Following a negative pap, the GYN referred me for a uterine ultrasound. After that was negative, I was referred to a GYN surgeon. Are you counting the weeks yet? I am. At this point, I had been bleeding five weeks. Of course, I don’t meet with the surgeon but the resident on schedule. He took more tissue, which was negative. Another week or two and I meet with the surgeon for my pre-op exam. He tells me he thinks it is likely cancer and recommends a hysterectomy. I had had concerns about cancer, based on my readings of post-menopausal bleeding, but I was ecstatic that he recommended a hysterectomy. I did not want any further uterine issues. I wasn’t going to have any more children and my tubes had been tied for nearly three decades. Also, if it prevented further cancer, so much the better. During my exam, the doctor found a polyp and sent it off to the lab. The surgeon called a day before my scheduled surgery and told me the polyp was negative. He would proceed with a D & C, send the tissue to the lab, and only if positive, he would then perform the hysterectomy. I argued with him to just take out the uterus, but he would not unless it was positive. I argued because I don’t want to face this again in my seventies or eighties. “Benign polyps caused the bleeding” and a D & C was all that was done. I’m very happy that it was not cancer, and I shouldn’t complain, but I still wish he would have removed my uterus. Oh well, sometimes I think male doctors just don’t get it about a woman’s choice about her body. I’m sure he could have justified a hysterectomy. I was a DES baby and my Mother had late life vulvar cancer. Go figure he would not see me as a candidate for a hysterectomy.

When my medical issues occurred, I worked with Sabine for another week or two, but then became too weak and one of my doctors told me to stop exercising.

When I was able to return to my personal training, Sabine informed me that she had been promoted and that our session was her last session with me.

I was so upset. I went to the Goodyear LA Fitness desk and first inquired about another female trainer. There were no other female trainers. I then asked about cancelling my contract. They sent me back to the Avondale LA Fitness manager. When I spoke with her, she refused to budge on my contract, even though Avondale and Goodyear had no female trainers. She told me to contact corporate. Well, let me tell you that several telephone calls were made to “corporate” to no avail. I was given excuses, put on hold for twenty to fort-five minutes, and cut off frequently. My attorney sent a letter to corporate, of which there was no reply. I made several more phone calls to no avail. After three or four months, I bought out my contract. LA Fitness did not care to honor the contract I thought I had based on what Tyrell and I agreed to. They continued to bill me until I bought out my contract, and then they still billed for two more months of the $30 monthly fee. I will NEVER step foot into one of their facilities again! I wish women would boycott LA Fitness….perhaps then they would be more accommodating.

Needless to say, I was not successful with my personal training goal. However, I am wiser and healthier on my own, thank you very much!! I use my home treadmill, weights and exercise ball. In the summer, I also would walk the indoor malls.

But it’s now fall! Yea! The last two weekends, I have been out walking. I haven’t gone to the trails, because it still gets hot early and we have had quite a bit of rain. But that day of hitting the trails is around the corner.

I am learning about hiking equipment. It has taken me four attempts to get the correct hiking boots for me. My first pair were Columbia. I think they came from Wal-Mart. They cover my ankles, but do not have much foot support or bending ability. However, they are great for yard work and fit me well enough to keep as a spare for hiking. My second pair came from Cabella’s. They were below my ankle and after my first hike in them, I returned them to Cabella’s within their 30-day return policy. My third pair were Vasque from REI. I wore them a couple times, but they were too narrow for me. I gave those boots away to my son-in-law Josh, who wears a comparable men’s size to my women’s size. He loves them! My fourth pair, the pair I love, are Keen’s from REI. They are pretty perfect. They cover my ankles, have foot support, seem lightweight, and they are flexible. I LOVE them!

I started out with a wooden walking stick. It broke in half on one of my trails. I then purchased some trekking poles from Cabella’s. They were Extreme Performance Gear. They lasted me several months, but the tips were always problematic in that they kept coming unscrewed. The twist-turning poles were not always secure and sometimes I could not get them untwisted to open them up or to close them. I recently purchased some Black Diamond Flick Lock Alpine Carbon trekking poles from Cabella’s. I have not tried them on a trail yet, but I love the idea of the flick lock. It is similar to the bicycle flip locks for releasing tires or adjusting the bicycle seat. I am hopeful that these types of locks will work more efficiently. I am also hopeful that the carbide tips will be sturdier and stay in position when I’m trailing. The cork handles are a bit narrower on the Black Diamond poles than on the Extreme Performance poles. This worries me a bit, as my arthritis responds better when I have thick grips to hold. I will be able to report later on the successes or failures of these Black Diamond trekking poles.

I used to wear a backpack to carry my water, purse, food, tissues, etc. It was sooo heavy! I now wear a camelback and if my “stuff” doesn’t fit, it stays home.

I try to remember sunscreen. I’m never without my hat. It has taken me about three tries to find a suitable hat. It needs to be light weight, large brimmed, and include a tying mechanism to withstand wind.

A hiking buddy suggested carrying nuts (with sea salt) and some fruit. Apparently, one needs the salt and sugar to assist in absorbing water so as not to become dehydrated. And in the desert, we have to be extra careful about dehydration. I can run through my camelback water supply within four hours, so I have to plan accordingly.

The wool blended socks are awesome to wear. They wick moisture and are comfortable. I invested in some hiking pants/zipper shorts that also wick moisture. I bought mine off of an REI sale rack for under $30. They normally run around $60. The long sleeve shirts that wick moisture still seem too hot for AZ hiking, but perhaps I haven’t yet found the right type of shirt.

An additional highlight this year was attending my 45th high school reunion. There was a large turn-out for our class of 69. It was just fabulous to see everyone and to catch up with some friends. We have always been a class of “go-getters”, in my opinion. Everyone seems passionate about their lives.

Class of 1969:

Class Reunion 09-06-14

The following are a few photos of some hikes from this last year:

Hiking & writing at Skamania Lodge, WA, and touring the Columbia River area ~ with daughter Cassandra

DSC00711 sunrise



DSC00700 Columbia River 1

DSC00620 Mt Hood 2

DSC00632 ultimate hot cocoa

DSC00633 Cassie 2

Best Hot Chocolate ever! Mount Hood lodge in northern Oregon.

DSC00742 reflections

Hiking in Sedona ~ the Devil’s Bridge. My son Lucas joined me on this hike.







Hiking in Muir Woods ~ My daughters Kathryn and Cassandra joined me on these hikes.

A selfie with Mom, Katie and Cassie.



I inserted this picture of Kate and Josh – we were hiking in Santa Rosa, CA, just before leaving for Muir Beach and Woods.


Back to Muir Woods:




Hiking at Muir Beach and Point Reye’s Beach.







I have hundreds of other hiking pictures. Perhaps one day I will chronicle all of my hikes.

To my fellow trailers ~ be safe; I know you will be happy  :)

To my fellow couch potatoes ~ get up! Start walking!



How Trailing is Helping to Redefine Myself ~

Memoirs Trail Hiking ~ March 1, 2014

I was 62 and a half (2013) when I started trail hiking with a passion. I had trail hiked with family members in Vermont and Colorado, but I was a youngster and was simply following my father around some trails. Even though I somewhat discount this as real trail hiking, I found a love of the woods or plains and the solitude and peace that is found during trail hikes. I also found it a sense of adventure, finding deer antlers and rocks I found interesting.

I had camped and taken day hikes over the years, but again, not what I would consider trail hiking.

Even my trip half way down the Grand Canyon in 1995 did not seem like a real trail hike to me. I had three of my four children with me and for water we carried 2 or 3 gallon water jugs. We got half way down at the Corral and had to climb the corral rails in order to miss the flash flooding that happened within minutes of our arrival. When the flooding was over, the rangers told us to hike back out because the trail was clo~sing. He advised us to tread carefully, as there were likely rock slides. There were. We were wholly unprepared to hike the Grand Canyon and took us until dark to reach the top.

In June/July 2012, I visited my daughter in Bend, OR. My two daughters, Cassie and Katie, and three grandchildren, Aubrey, Jack and Arwen, thought to hike. I was reduced to tears because I simply could not keep up. It was such a shock to me, as I felt like I had always been athletic. Now, what seemed like all of a sudden, I was totally out of shape at the sweet young age of 61 years. How depressing! And instead of going home and enrolling at the gym, I traipsed back to my 10 hour work days where sitting at a desk all day was paramount to my work and the extent of my exercising.

And let me back track and give a brief history of my physical activity. In my youth, I was a competitive swimmer and a cheerleader for seven years. I also jogged/ran with my dad in high school. In my young adult years, I continued jogging and using exercise DVDs, especially following the birth of my children. I worked the construction trade for a while and worked on homes and/or gardens. In 2008 and 2009, I consistently did P90X or some other types of similar exercising. I would join gyms and exercise. I would bike ride. So, I was fairly active, but I also had sedentary jobs, where I worked anywhere from eight to ten hour days. The sedentary jobs were killing any benefit from the exercising, as my weight increased with my age, especially through my fifties.

After my retirement from state government in March 2013 and a few months of adjustment (I say adjustment lightly here when it was anything but), I began walking around my neighborhood. I also bought a treadmill so that I could walk inside during the high temperatures in central Arizona. Although starting this, I was not very consistent and still suffering from the transition into retirement after nearly fifty years in the work force (my first W-2 was in 1965). I simply did not know what to do with myself, even with having a part-time job. The adjustment was depressing. I seemed to have to redefine myself and realize and accept that my life had changed.

In October 2013, my daughter invited me to visit and go on a weekend retreat with her to Skamania Lodge in Washington. Our goal was to write and prepare ourselves for the November National Writing Month contest (NaNoWriMo). Cassie, my daughter, wrote mostly. I wrote infrequently, but hiked every day. I hiked in the woods. I hiked to a neighboring town. During this weekend, I completed two six-mile hikes and one three-mile hike. I was in heaven. Even though I was in pain and iced my ankles, I was so enthralled with the beauty of the scenery, the solitude, and the peace that I experienced during these hikes.

Upon returning home, I began to walk more earnestly. I was able to walk around my neighborhood for two to four miles during the week. On the weekends, I began longer walks, achieving anywhere from five to ten mile walks.

And then I read Wild by Cheryl Strand. I started buying the books she recommended and searching for Arizona trail hikes. Cassie claimed she told me about this book a couple of years before I read it, which rang a bell to me. Cassie had also told me about her desire to walk the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

I had a desire to walk the El Camino across Spain, which resulted from seeing the movie and reading a couple of books about this pilgrimage.

I knew I had to start training if I was going to ever accomplish the El Camino or the PCT or other long trails.

It is daunting to think about hiking and camping for miles upon miles, but at the same time, I think it is something I could accomplish.

On March 1, 2014 (my mother’s birthday), I joined yet another gym and signed up for personal training. I need to lose eighty pounds. I am starting with the first forty pounds now! We will see where this takes me and hope that I can achieve beyond the first forty pounds within six months.

Between 09/23/13 and 12/29/13, I logged a total of 511,344 steps, 226.91 miles, and burned 217,987 calories.

Between 12/30/13 and 02/23/14, I logged a total of 287,315 steps, 127.5 miles, and burned 125,397 calories.

As my daughter Cassandra states ~ Happy Trailing ~