Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Walk to Remember

Because I am writing this post, you know that I survived our big 21 mile hike this past weekend.  It was definitely a walk to remember!

Les and I loved to hike.  I appreciated this about him, because he walked all day every day for work in his brown uniform, yet he would agree to go on hikes with me on the weekend.  We were just talking about doing this hike in to Stehekin, and then he got sick.  After he died last year, it started running through my head that it would be a great thing to do on the anniversary of his death.  In April I kinda put the word out to some friends to see if anyone was interested.  I was so excited that 10 were able to join me!

Us girls left Saturday morning and spent that evening in Mazama. I love that little town.  Les and I stayed there a couple of times with our friends Steve and Sheri.  I am so thankful that they made us aware of this place!  Us girls enjoyed a beautiful evening!  We weren't too excited about the loud wedding music that went on until midnight, but what do ya do??

We were up and at 'em at 4:30 am - we needed to leave at 5:30 to be at the trail head at 6:00.  When my friend Kay walked into our room and said it was raining, we thought she was joking.  Well, she wasn't.  The closer we got to the trail head the harder it started raining.  Remember, it is o-dark-six-am, 39 degrees, and pouring down rain.  This was not in the forecast!!!!  Lonnie was our driver (she has an injury that prevented her from hiking but wanted to join us - and we NEEDED her as our driver!  SO thankful for her) and Lonnie needed to drive the suburban down to Chelan to be on the boat going UP to Stehekin - and that boat left at 8:30 am.  She had to just dump us off and leave us there........
Off we went.  For 3 hours we had rain.  It was cold.  The trail was puddles.  About an hour in, I was thinking, we can't even turn back because we have no vehicle waiting for us.......  It was pretty miserable.  I am so thankful for friends who stayed very upbeat and encouraging at this time.  You know, we joke about the "kooistra travel curse"  but it is a real thing.  Remember this post?  And Kris and Hannah's honeymoon in a hurricane?  And we have several other stories.......  And here we were hiking in the cold rain.
Drowned rats - but on the right trail!!
Then we saw patches of blue.  The clouds turned to puffy white instead of dark grey.  We saw a rainbow.  The rest of the hike was absolutely beautiful.  God's creation is so amazing!  The last 5 or 8 miles were very dusty and HOT.  We got sunburned.  But we didn't complain about that!!!!
several streams to cross - this one was a little scary....

"Go rest high on that mountain.  Son, your work on earth is done.  Go to Heaven a shoutin', love for the Father, and the Son."
After 8.5 hours and 21 miles, we made it to the end of the trail.  What a great feeling!  I am still amazed there were no injuries.  We had bee stings, wet feet from slipping in the creeks, blisters, sore and shaky legs, slivers in the bum (remember, there are no bathrooms along the trail), but we all walked out!  We waited about 20 minutes for the big red bus that takes you the final 10 miles to the Stehekin lodge.  On the way to the lodge, we stopped at the famous bakery.  It was so great to be among other people!!  We had NO cell service this entire day, so we were a bit nervous to find out if Lonnie had made the boat up to Stehekin;  the red bus pulled to the front of the lodge, and there Lonnie sat up on the deck.  We all started yelling and waving at her - we were SO GLAD to see her!  And I think she was SO GLAD to see us!

End of the trail - so proud of us!

Rainbow Falls - on our bus ride
Stehekin is such a cool place.  We had met 20-30 hikers on our hike down in to Stehekin - these hikers were all going north.  They had been on this Pacific Crest Trail since Mexico or Southern California, since April or May and they were heading to either the Canadian border or Manning Park in Canada.  Their stories were all so amazing.    The lodge had maybe 50 or so of these hikers hanging around (mostly they camp in campgrounds or in the wild).  There's a post office in Stehekin, so some hikers were waiting for packages they had scheduled to arrive for them.  It was amazing to watch them open these mail packages with new food, new shoes, new clothes - and then repack their back packs.  Very interesting!  We heard that since the movie and book "Wild" came out a couple years ago, the traffic on the Pacific Crest Trail has increased dramatically!  Here we were thinking we were pretty cool, hiking 21 miles - and then we talk with these hikers........they weren't so impressed...........  Ha!

SO GLAD my girls joined us "old ladies"!!!!
We spent the night in Stehekin - yummy yummy food at the restaurant.  We were all looking forward to a cold beer on the deck when we arrived in the big red bus, and we bought the last 2 six packs!  No more beer coming in until Tuesday!  Such a different way of life.  We had two large rooms between the 11 of us, and of course they were both up two flights of stairs.  We could barely walk!  What was even funnier was the next morning as we TRIED to get out of bed!  The biggest complaint was sore calves.

This was a great experience with great friends and my three girls - daughter Leslie, daughter-in-law Hannah, and niece Emily.  They have all made this past year bearable, and I was thankful all these women agreed to join me on this hike.  Late that evening in Stehekin, someone suggested we all go down to the lake.  We did, and Lori pulled out some candles.  We lit our candles in memory of Les and some memories of him were shared.  Tears and laughter!  A very special night!

We took the foot ferry boat back to Chelan the next afternoon.  A glorious day - we all sat on the back deck in T-shirts.  That is one long lake!  In Chelan, most of the gang headed straight home - myself and a couple others spent one extra night in Chelan.  It was kinda nice to just kick back and relax in the sun one more day.  Our muscles were still pretty sore!

Who wants to join next year?????

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Final First

It has been a year of "firsts" for our family.  First holiday without Les, first birthdays - Les' and all the rest of us!, first Christmas, first New Years, first Valentine's, first wedding get the picture.  Some of these days were really difficult and some were fine.  I have learned that I never know what to expect!!

Dallas' recent first birthday was a pretty big "first".  She was born just two weeks before Les died, so those few weeks after her birth are full of memories......... Dallas is a dear, sweet little girl and she brings us great JOY.  Kris and Hannah hosted a fun birthday party; I realized on my way home from the party that these events are getting easier for me to do by myself.  I'm thankful for that progress!

Of course the final "first" will be the anniversary of Les' death, which is coming up this week on September 9.  There are 11 of us going on our big adventure this next weekend and I have been focusing on the hike more than that first anniversary.    I am so glad I have this hike to look forward to - and not dwelling on Les' anniversary.  I am SO excited (and a little nervous!!)  for this weekend and this hike.  Again, please keep us in your prayers on Sunday, the 11th!  Safety and no injuries!
Training hike to Church Mountain with Rick & Pam

Also coming up on September 17 is the local annual ALS walk.  We participated in this walk two years ago.  Les walked half of it (a little over a mile) and rode his scooter the second half.  We did not participate last year-- it was the same day as Les' memorial service.  If you are available, PLEASE join us!  You can either donate and be part of the "team" or you can just show up and walk. Click here to donate or join our team.

Because of the ice bucket challenges and these walks, the ALS association has raised SO much money and has made great progress in the research of ALS. There have been some exciting breakthroughs in this research.  I can only hope and pray that someday there will be a cure for this nasty disease.