2020 – A Summer of Surprises

Spring was filled with much confusion. I was in Northeast Arizona when the COVID-19 restrictions began. Traveling wasn’t fun. I felt ostracized and unwelcome. Once I realized this wasn’t going to be a short-term problem, I scurried home and spent spring recreating locally while struggling to process this current reality. I wrote a lot. It will be a good reminder of this time in my life.

My county officially declared itself ready to move to Stage 2 pandemic reopening on May 6th. In celebration I ran away and visited a waterfall.

With temperatures climbing to the low 90’s, I took my #stimuluscheck inflatable SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) for it’s maiden voyage on Trinity Lake.

Little did I know how the SUP would help me set new challenges. Why not try to paddle around the perimeter of Whiskeytown Lake? GAIA proved to be a helpful tool, working as well on water as on land.

Living near this lake for several decades I’ve spent plenty of time along it’s shores and hiking the trails but this was my first summer ON the water. I learned about the old highway that runs under the lake and is still visible (the shadow line on the right). How is it possible for pavement to remain intact under water for decades?

While in general the joy of hiking wasn’t present during my paddles, I found satisfaction swimming, watching fish, frogs and birds, discovering the creek inflow channels, and imagining camping on one of the little islands.

Spending the last six summers in the mountain states, I’d forgotten how hot it gets in Redding starting in June; my melting point is around 80F. It was easy to start questioning my decision to stay local. Several times I considered running away.

I’ve become quite heat intolerant so I found swimming and paddling to be better options than hiking and biking. I spent time in cooler climates like this paddle at Castle Lake.

Life on the road gave me the opportunity to run from weather or fires and smoke. Staying home, meant daily checks of the air quality starting mid July. This was my last day of paddling. Soon enough instead of buying backpacking gear I was buying an air purifier and dragging out my N95 masks, for smoke rather than COVID-19.

But with smoke comes beautiful sunsets.

Rewind to May. I found the bike a better option than walking the nearby paved trails. I was thankful as the community reopened, the crowds mostly disappeared.

I also enjoyed blooms in my yard, watched over by my friend and namesake, BeeKeeper aka Queen Bee.

And then it was finally time! My local forests sort of invited participation with this statement, “We ask the public to please recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing, etc., or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided.” Maybe a little selfish, hiking and backpacking in my local wilderness areas was a decision I didn’t take lightly, but one imperative to my personal well being. Trails were open, and with careful planning I selected options with few cars at the trailheads and rarely a human sighting while on trail. I didn’t stop anywhere along the way, no restrooms, no gas, no food or drink. I’d return home to resupply, do laundry and grab gas before hitting the repeat button.

Looking at this list makes me realize I didn’t have a wasted summer. It wasn’t anywhere near the #epic summer I had planned, but at least I got out. The biggest regret I have is giving up a month of opportunity. I suffered from the heat and was miserable during my early July jaunt on the PCT in the Russian Wilderness. I decided I needed to wait until fall. In retrospect I realize what I should have done was find places where I could lounge around lakes during the heat of the day. It’s not my style, but then again neither is staying home feeling sorry for myself. Once again, maybe I should have run away?

By mid August fire season was in full swing.

Air quality sucked. I was stuck inside left to wonder whether my fall hiking plans would be only a dream.

FINALLY, the week before Labor Day weekend, we had a weather change and were gifted a break from the heat and smoke. So off I went to find my happy spot, and yes more swimming. Did I say this was my summer of swimming?

And just as I was ramping up for some fall fun, my body decided otherwise. Little did I know this would mark the end of my 2020 season.

I spent September learning a lot about knee anatomy, followed by knee surgery in early October. For six weeks, it’s crutches and 8 hours a day in a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine, so basically 24×7 in bed. Oh fun!

With the mild temperatures I’ve been able to enjoy outside Vitamin D breaks. The sun is a huge mood booster. It looks like fall is due to arrive by the end of the week.

I took advantage of my downtime while I was cooped up inside, hiding from heat or smoke, to write my series on a decade of lessons learned.

I also worked on a few DIY projects.

Lastly I’ve been busy contributing to other communities, including my interview with Jester (link).

In Susan Alcorn’s recently released book, I’m one of the women interviewed and hear I have a dedicated chapter (I’m still waiting for my complimentary copy to arrive). It’s a little nerve wracking not knowing how content will be used and edited, especially in a project like this one. “In Walk, Hike, Saunter, long-distance hiker Susan Alcorn introduces you to 32 experienced outdoors women who consider hiking to be an essential part of their live. The common theme of Walk, Hike, Saunter is that there are many paths to incorporating hiking into your life. Whether hiking is one of many things that you enjoy doing, or whether you find hiking such an passion that you don’t mind living out of your car in order to pursue it–you can reap the rewards of exploring the world on foot. The women, all 45 and older and in the prime of their lives, are all superstars–shining examples of the richness that hiking can bring to our lives.” The book is currently available in paperback but at some point in the future will be an e-book as well (Amazon link).

I’m also happy to be contributing to the PCT Foundation Document (link). It’s a very interesting project. You can learn more and add your two cents if interested.

My blog will probably be fairly quiet for the next few months as I go through rehab. I’ll be spending a lot of time in my home gym, although I’ll be dreaming of being elsewhere. January will be my 3-month post surgery mark and April 6 months. I’ve been forewarned that patience is the key to achieving the desired outcome, which to me means full function of my knee.

My goal is to keep smiling, stay optimistic, work on creating photo journals from my blog, do lots of rehab and be ready for some #epic adventures in 2021!

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site. 

Links:

More Miscellaneous Jabberings

2 thoughts on “2020 – A Summer of Surprises

  1. I admire how positive you always are. I am afraid I’d be a miserable grump. Also I was wondering how you keep your phone dry on your SUP. I have a case I guess I could bring but I am not very confident in my paddling skills.

    • I put my phone in a freezer ziplock with my car keys then into a dry bag then into my pack which was leashed on my board. I only accessed when I was on shore as I too was nervous about it getting wet or more likely dropping into the lake.

      Believe me I fight depression and the grumpies. My standard prescription is travel and hiking. Without either and especially without exercise it’s tough. I’m thankful in general to have a sunny disposition and plentiful optimism. They help and otherwise I play that one hour, one day, one week game. Yesterday I celebrated the end of week four of basically being in traction and house arrest. Two more weeks to go. 14 days! I can do this.

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