Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CT Climbers Memorial Day Trip

It's been over a month since I posted anything.  Life has been busy and frankly there hasn't been much adventure to report.  I've been making slow and steady progress toward my goals.  It's been exhilarating and frustrating at times.  This past weekend was a big data point for me as it was the first trip with the CT Climbers and Mountaineers since the accident on October 2.

Carol Ann and Frank have been hosting us at their place at the base on Cathedral Rock in North Conway, NH for several years now on Memorial Day Weekend.  The views of the cliff from their front deck are breathtaking and it's always fun to watch the progress of our friends with the binoculars as they inch their way up the wall.  I've always found the climbing at Cathedral to be quite challenging since I grew up on Gunks horizontals.  Cathedral is a granite crack climbers playground.  I have enjoyed many of the classic routes, but I was in no shape to climb anything there this weekend.  I packed my gear with the thought that Charlotte and I might do any easy slab route on Whitehorse, but my heart really wasn't into it.  While packing my gear for the trip, I grabbed my old harness for Charlotte to use and realized it was no longer useable.  While inspecting it, I realized the rescue crew cut the harness off of me after the fall.  It made me feel a bit dizzy and sick thinking about it, so I quickly threw it in the nearby garbage pail.  Climbing seemed like a remote possibility at that point.

My focus over the past 4 months has been to regain my strength, coordination, and endurance, and I wanted this weekend to build on that effort, but also to be a data point/progress check.  I had been hiking the Metacomet trail for the prior 3 weekends from Pinnacle to Rt. 6 and back and had progressed in form and time each week.  I was not breaking any land speed records, but was happy to cover the distance in less than 2 hours.  I figured I was moving at about a 2 mile per hour pace (just a guess) on some technical terrain.  I would limp as I got tired, but otherwise the pain was manageable.

On the way to NH on Friday, Charlotte and I decided to try for the summit of East Osceola.  I hiked the same trail from the Greeley Pond trailhead (off the Kank) many years ago when I was peakbagging and didn't recall any major issues.  It was only 2.8 miles or so to the summit and the first 1.5 miles looked fairly flat.  I had no idea what would happen, but figured it would be a nice stroll either way.  We both wore high top lightweight hikers.  Char was nursing an ankle sprain from Traprock and I was planning to deal with muck since I couldn't jump from rock to rock.  After a quarter mile or so, we came across a significant stream crossing requiring some skill and trust in your feet.  I found a walking stick and decided to put my faith in it for the crossing.  After some scary tip-toeing, we were across and on our way.  The first couple miles went by quickly and I was pleased with our pace.  I felt like I was holding Charlotte back and she moved ahead at times.  I'm usually the guy out front pushing the pace, so this was a very humbling experience for me.  I was moving as fast I possible and it was a slow crawl for Charlotte.

When we got to the steep part, we weaved our way up the rock together and took in some of the views.  We took a couple pics near the summit and decided to head back without taking on the mile trek over to Mt. Osceola.  I was concerned with my ability to make it since this was considerably longer and more difficult than anything I had attempted since the accident.  I was really pleased with this decision as the descent was much more difficult than the ascent.  Char said I was moving well, but a couple slips really took the energy out of me and I limped down to the flats.  Back at the car, we celebrated my first post-accident 4,000 footer and Char's 17th NH 4Ker, then headed to the hotel for a shower.  I was really pleased with the effort and felt like some exciting adventures were back in my grasp.

After a nice dish of Pad Thai in North Conway, we headed over to Frank and Carol Ann's to catch up with friends.  It was great to see so many CCMers there and to feel a part of the group again.  Frank and Chad told us about their exciting night on the Prow as they aided the route, hauled a propane stove and steaks for a nice dinner and slept on a porta-ledge for the night.  It seemed like a great plan until it decided to rain all night.  They survived the bath in the porta-ledge enclosure, but had to rap off the route in the morning as the rock was dripping water.  Now that is an epic adventure!

On Saturday, Char and I decided to try for 2 more 4Kers.  The easiest one looked like Mount Hale, so we set off to bag that one quickly and then possibly shoot for Mt. Jackson.   All went according to plan on Hale, but we were both a bit sore afterwards.  It just seemed too early to call it a day as we were finished by 2 pm, so we decided to give Jackson a try.  The Webster-Jackson trail was a tough as I remembered it and then some...  It took us nearly 4 hours to make the round trip and we were both hobbling afterwards.  Nevertheless, we were both pleased with the effort and Char was happy to bag 2 more peaks (18 and 19, yeah!).

At dinner that night, I was a hurting unit.  My knees were toast and my hip was sore as well.  We decided to sleep in on Sunday and take a ride over to Echo Lake.  After breakfast, we hit a couple stores in town and then went to the lake to soak in the nice icy water.  It sure helped my knees!

We watched some friends climb on Whitehorse Ledge, and then met up with everyone later to hear the climbing stories of the day.   I hope to participate in some of those stories again soon.
 We drove back after breakfast on Monday in an attempt to beat the traffic (failed attempt) and catch up on some things.  Overall, it was a great trip for Char and me.   We had some great 1:1 time and savored every minute of it.  We enjoyed the hiking and talked about future adventures.

Tonight, I went back to the gym for another attempt at running.  After 30 minutes on the bike, and some PT, I went back to the treadmill.  My plan is to do a half mile at least once per week until I can do a sub-12 minute mile pace without any significant pain.  I had progressed from 8:30 (17 minutes/mile) to about 7:10 (14:20/mile).  Tonight was great!  I finished the half mile in 6:30 (13min/mile pace).  Woohoo!  It almost felt like running!  I still can't press my body weight with one leg, so I'm really excited with my progress.  If I can get stronger each day, I should be running soon.

The more I experience, the more I realize that anything is's all a matter of effort and attitude!
Hold your vision...and persist without exception!



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