Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Feeling Stronger Every Day

Old Sugarlands Trail - GSMNP
January 28, 2011

I have been quiet in BlogLand for the past several days and there's a perfectly good explanation!  We have experienced four days of incredible weather for which I am so thankful.  Between the uncharacteristically difficult winter we've had and my 10 days of illness, the tranquil weather could not have been more perfectly timed.  I feel as though it's been a gift especially for me although I know that's not the case.  Knowing how sick I've been and how weak I really was, I was determined to work at rebuilding my stamina gradually.  My beloved mountains were calling and when they do, that call overrides everything else, including blogging!  On Friday, I drove to the Sugarlands Visitor Center  and began my day's ramble with the lovely, 1.25 mile Fighting Creek Nature Trail.  Encouraged by the fact that after completing this walk, I was energized rather than tired, I crossed the street from the visitor's center and meandered down the Old Sugarlands Trail.  I was headed toward the rock outcropping you see in today's picture because I knew that would be a perfect lunch spot and it was!  It looks like I'm in the middle of the river doesn't it?  I stopped here on my way back toward the car and enjoyed a 45-minute respite that included lunch, hot coffee from my thermos and quite possibly, a short nap!  I cannot imagine any thing that could have done more for restoring my health and state of mind than this outing did.  

On Saturday, I was off to the Townsend side of the park, often called the "peaceful side of the Smokies," for a hike on another of my favorite trails, the West Prong Trail.  Saturday's weather was even more perfect than the day before and by lunch time, I had taken off layers down to a t-shirt!  This little jaunt was slightly over 4 miles and although tired, I felt energized and terrific.  

On Sunday, I "rested" and endured a great deal of taunting from choir members who suggested I needed to beg for reinstatement in the choir since I'd been absent for so long.  Between our Christmas trip to Florida and my illness, I've been to church ONE Sunday and ONE choir rehearsal since before Christmas.  Totally out of character for Mr. B and I.  Sunday afternoon, I walked in one of our local parks with some beautiful trails and other than enduring quite a bit of mud, that was a nice "bridge" between hiking days.

Yesterday, I was off to the GSMNP park again and today, had one of my favorite hiking "buds" along with me.  We chose the Finley Cane Trail which begins about half way up the road towards the Cades Cove area of the park.  This trail is often hiked as one leg of an 8 mile loop, but we chose to just hike in and out as my goal for today was approximately 6 miles.  It was cloudy and we actually encountered a bit of rain which cut our lunch break short, but fortunately, temps are still unbelievably mild for January so with rain gear on, we stayed warm and dry.  I was quite tired last night, but was it ever a "good" tired.  From a mental standpoint, I think I was laid flat on the couch for so many days and knew how weak I was, that I'd convinced myself I'd not be able to walk 100 feet without crashing.  I know that's laughable given the fact that my hiking legs were in pretty good shape BEFORE I got sick, but you know that hiking is my "passion" and anything that gets in the way scares me!  So to be able to get out and spend some days rebuilding strength in a calculated way was truly perfect.   And it bears repeating that the weather reprieve was a gift I sorely needed.

Our "reprieve" is over, with clouds, rain and wind predicted over the next couple of days, but given what many of you are about to experience, there will be NO whining here.  I have much to do and MIL is starting to complain that I've not spent the appropriate amount of time with her recently.  I'll do that tomorrow and then hopefully, be able to hike again on Thursday afternoon following my morning doctor appointment for CT Scan and follow-up.  

Mr. B and I are headed to Atlanta this weekend and I am so excited!  Since MIL was with us on the Florida trip, it seems like forever since he and I have had one of our much loved "weekends" away.  I've found us an "apartment" in the Virginia Highlands area and weather looks promising for a combination of outdoor activities and shopping.  Piedmont Park, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Publix are ALL within walking distance of the place we'll be staying.   I also plan to visit IKEA and REI while in Atlanta.  We always try to throw something historic in the mix on these weekend jaunts, so this time, it will probably be the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.  A few years ago, Mr. B arranged his schedule (you can do that when you're the head of the department!  LOL!) so that he does not have a class until 1:00 on MWF.  Our weekend jaunts can begin on Friday at 2:00 and not end until Monday at 1:00, so that gives us three nights and really gives us time to cover a lot of territory!  I'll tell you all about it during or after, but bet you can see how excited I am!

February has quietly sneaked in and it's going to be FABULOUS!  Between our horrid January weather and my being sick for almost two weeks, I had a hard time continuing to be JOYFUL for all of January, but I gave it my best shot and am ready to move on.   I am happy to report that I lost four pounds during January.  This is not nearly the amount I'd hoped for, but the 12 days of Prednisone were a battle I didn't anticipate and in all reality, I am thankful for any loss.  February will present some major challenges, not the least of which is our upcoming weekend in the restaurant mecca of Atlanta and then a Valentine's Party the following Saturday night.  I will have lots of opportunities to put into practice the things I've been learning over the past few months.

My friend, Karen at Waisting Time graciously bestowed the Honest Scrap Award on me a few days ago and I so appreciate the kinds words she had for me and this blog.  I did promise myself honesty in the blog before I began writing and even though it's sometimes embarrassing or difficult, I do try to stay honest!  I had thought ushering in Fabulous February would be a great day to tell you ten more things about me that you didn't already know, but I was so excited about my hiking adventures and upcoming weekend, I wanted to share that first.  So the Honest Scrap revelations will be in the next post.  Bet you just can't wait.....................

What's your word for February and why?


  1. I am smiling as I read about you hiking:) And I am envious of your little weekend trip. My husband visits REI whenever we have one near us on our travels and I would love to see an IKEA someday. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Congrats on those 4 pounds!

  2. I'm so happy you're feeling better and are out and about on your beloved trails! I love the Cades Cove area and would love to revisit it someday.

    My February word is "caring". I'm on the lookout for every opportunity to show I *care*.

  3. Sharon, I'm so glad you've been able to get out and hike during the nice weather. It is so good for the soul. Congrats on the 4 lb loss and overcoming Prednisone!

  4. Sharon,
    I'm so glad you're back! I missed you.

    I'm also very proud of the four pound loss. Considering the unusual circumstances of the month, you've done a great job. It would have been easy to throw up your hands and quit, but you didn't.

    BTW, J-boy loves Townsend.

  5. Wow, I would have been MIA, too-that is surely beautiful! I'm totally jealous!
    My February word is-persist. I need to continue with the same level of effort and committment as January, and get to my first goal this month.

    Polar's Mom

  6. Wow, you came back with a bang! Good job on the hiking, and congrats on the weight loss. That is nothing to sneeze at!

  7. It was invigorating to read you were feeling stronger!

    My word for February: Becoming

    I was just working on a post, trying to explain it... don't feel I'm doing too well. But I realized that regardless of my stumbles, regardless of the judgments and mocking of others, *I* know I am changing on the inside, slowly, and becoming that which is inside me, wanting to emerge.

    Yep... becoming.


  8. Sharon, I'm so sorry i wasn't here for you last week when you were at the worst of your illness, but I was thinking of you. So glad to hear you're on the mend. Anyone who doesn't have a chronic disease or infection might have a hard time understanding that these things can flare up and last a couple of days or perhaps weeks, and when you're going through it, you have no way of knowing if it is going to be short or long-term. From personal experience, I can say that if I knew it was only going to be a couple of days, it would be endurable. But the not knowing how long it will last is nightmarish. When I was young, I was able to endure repeated flare-ups with my problems, but by the time I was in my late 50's, I just finally had no more staminia for it. I am really very glad to hear that you are back to your joyful self again. And a BIG congratulations on your 4-pound loss! Great job!

  9. Bravo! Hiking equals happy! Beautiful photo too.

    A word for February? Hmmmm I think mine will be balance. Finding a better balance in my blogging and how it impacts my daily life.

  10. Sharon, I meant to tell you when I saw your "10 new things you don't know about me" the other day that I loved Dan Blocker too! I have a couple of magazine articles about him as well as a couple of other glossies that people gave me when they knew how I loved him. I also cried when he died.

  11. February means a cold month is ahead here in Pittsburgh, but it's also my birthday month.

    I love your photo--you live in such a beautiful part of the country! How lucky to be so close to such wonderful trails :). MY husband and I got married near Asheville, NC, so the western NC/Eastern TN area has special meaning for us.