Friday, February 18, 2011

Finally....Some Fabulous February Days

Ramsey Cascades - GSMNP
February 17, 2011

Things are looking up and even though February became an extension of January with more health issues, I believe that with 11 days left in February, it can still end on a FABULOUS note.  My follow-up visit to the eye doctor on Tuesday brought good news and news I didn't want to hear.  The good news is that my eye infection is healing "nicely."  The not so good news was that I could not wear my contact lenses for another whole week!  And I am still on an every two hour schedule for antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eyedrops.  That is a royal pain!  But the best news of all is that I am feeling much more like myself and truly believe I am on the mend from the whole January and February head infection nightmare.  Just pray there isn't any other residual bizarre infection lurking about in my head that's going to rear it's ugly head.  Frankly, I don't think there's anything left that hasn't already been infected. 

On to more interesting topics................YESTERDAY I TOOK A REAL HIKE!!  The 8-mile hike to Ramsey Cascades is considered one of the more difficult treks in the Smokies.  It is also considered one of the most beautiful.   Ramsey Cascades is the highest waterfall accessible by trail in the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Unfortunately, that notoriety causes many people to attempt the trail that are neither physically able nor properly prepared to make the hike.  The trail is steep, rocky and just plain tough.  But as you can see from today's picture, the payoff is truly amazing.  My hiking buddy and I had been once before and knew that in order to experience any quiet time at the cascades, we'd have to leave early and get there before anyone else.  At the base of the cascade, there is a house-sized boulder just made for laying back and enjoying the cascade.  She and I have been hiking together for over a decade and our favorite thing to do upon arrival at a destination is to separate and just spend some quiet alone time with our individual thoughts.  We had about 30 minutes yesterday before other hikers began to arrive.  Believe me, 30 minutes alone at Ramsey Cascades is a gift indeed!

Now for the nitty-gritty.............For the life of me, I don't know why we chose Ramsey Cascades for yesterday's hike.  I knew an 8-miler was the next step in getting my former stamina back, but why in the world did I chose one of the most difficult in the park?  I suspect it was my hell-bent determination to prove that I was going to be o.k. and get myself back in shape NOW!  The first three months of the year are prime hiking season for me because there are no fears of snakes and/or bears.  I did NO hiking in January and there are only 11 days left in February.  I needed the mental boost of having a challenge behind me.  

And a challenge it certainly was.   In addition to the length, steep trail, rocks, climbs, long and narrow log bridges which played havoc with my depth perception since I was wearing my glasses instead of contacts, I totally failed to factor in the fact that, at 4400' feet, there would be snow and ice!  Twice, we almost turned back, but the sun and temps were climbing so rapidly, we felt certain enough melting would take place that coming back down wouldn't be as treacherous.  How easily we can deceive ourselves!  The second time, we were so close we could SEE the cascades - there was no way I was going back.  Yes, it involved crawling, but we did it.  My guess is that few people have seen Ramsey Cascades with over half of it frozen.  I would not trade the experience for any other.   Coming back was hard, very hard.   It was slow and normally, I would be embarrassed to report that it took us over 8 hours to do a 8 mile hike.  But this was not a normal day and I cannot begin to describe the sense of accomplishment when we spotted my car at the trailhead.

Everything becomes an analogy for my weight loss effort and so did yesterday's adventure.  I've done this trail before and if I'm blatantly honest with you, will tell you that I wondered what the big whoop was all about.  I just didn't see that the trail was all that difficult.  Sadly, I know that when I've reached my goal weight in times past, I tended to look back and think it wasn't all that hard.  But pride, indeed, goes before a fall and after a regain, I've humbly realized that yes, it was hard and maintaining the loss is even harder.  Yesterday as I was walking, crossing bridges over rushing water that made me dizzy, stumbling over rock staircases, climbing, slipping and sliding on my BUTT, it occurred to me that fighting is well worth it when you've been there before and know the joy of what is waiting for you.  

I knew what Ramsey Cascades would look like and I know what being at goal weight looks like.  It is worth every ounce of effort it takes to get there and I am happy to say I'm on my way.

Here's another picture just for good measure.   And BTW, we are headed out again tomorrow for another of our favorite trails.  Today, I'm happily stretched out on the couch reading the 3,000 (only a slight exaggeration) posts I missed by spending the day in the woods instead of in BlogLand!! 

And here's one of the log bridges I mentioned.  Normally, I love these, but there is some subtle difference between my glasses and contact lenses that make these very difficult for me to cross.

Just out of curiosity, is hiking something that interests you at all?   Where and what is the longest hike you've ever been on?


  1. YES, IT DOES!!! I am so looking forward to my son;s wedding (July 30!! Your BD). We will spend an additional 2 weeks in WA state so we can take in a number of hiking trails. I am "training" now for these hikes my increasing my walks to 5 and hopefully soon 7 miles. I will go to the North Shore in MN for a conference in March. I hope to do some really hills then, too.

    So, glad Sharon, to read that your eye infection is getting better. I will keep my fingers crossed, too, for no new infection!

    Have a great weekend! Michele

  2. Beautiful! Except that bridge would make me nervous. Love the analogy. I keep thinking of them too. Crazy.

    Hiking... so... it does interest me. Some. I am not an outdoorsy gal. And I like to pee in a toilet, thank you very much. I have learned that I like to hike UP first and down second. We did the opposite at the Grand Canyon, just 1.5 miles, but I had a bad cold and it killed me.

  3. That scenery is amazing!! I love to hike, but my husband has medical issues that prevent us from doing it together. My daughter and I walk through the forest preserves near our house in the spring and summer though.

    And I agree with wearing glasses vs. contacts - there is no depth perception when you look down wearing glasses. Luckily I finally replaced my 1980's glasses a few years ago - my daughter was so embarrased when I wore them that she didn't want me to go get the mail wearing them! :D

  4. I'm not much of a hiker. 65MD loves hiking, camping, hunting, pretty much anything outside and I am in to climate control!! As a child our church had a youth camp at Fall Creek Falls. I've done a bunch of those trails due to that. But, I've not done a lot of hiking as an adult.

    A couple of years ago we were at Tybee Island and climbed to the top of the lighthouse there. I nearly collapsed from the exertion, and was a little shocked that I was so out of shape. (I think I have a real issue with denial!) Just the other day I mentioned that I wanted to go back to that lighthouse and walk up the stairs again. I think it will be a interesting measure of how far I've come - or not!

  5. OK. That teensy little bridge freaks me out! I am almost hyperventilating just by looking at the picture. Really.

    You are a brave soul.


  6. Glad your eye infection is better. Lovely, amazing photos! That bridge is a bit scary, however. I would love to hike, but I have a torn miniscus (healed, but still not great) and an old achilles injury that limits that sort of thing quite a bit for me. I really miss it!

  7. Hey, love your blog! It's so nice to see so many people losing weight and sharing their journey in a blog. It's the perfect tool to keep you motivated. I recently started my own blog called "Brendan's Weight Loss Adventure." Check it out at Can't wait to see more inspiring people. Thanks a lot!

  8. I'm glad you're doing better. I had an eye infection last year, and it was not fun at all! The scenery looks beautiful. I would love to be able to hike more than I do. Living in Nebraska, there aren't a lot of trails to hike, other than flat ones! LOL

  9. I used to love hiking, as I grew up in Girl Scouts, but not much now. Husband isn't able to go with me, so the thrill isn't there. But I do walk in nature, so I get the mental benefits of it through that.

  10. Those photos are beautiful!

    John and I want to do some hikes this year. There are tons of places here in the Adirondacks. You inspired me to get planning!

  11. Yaay for healing and hiking! The weather has been perfect for it, but alas, I have nowhere nearby to hike. Neither do I have any cute hiking boots. :)

  12. Good to hear that your health is improving - and I totally understand the disappointment of not being able to wear your contacts! ;) I'm spoiled with them also.
    Nice hike - you WILL get your stamina back, but it is so disappointing after being sick. I felt it too when I was sick in January - but it does come back fairly quickly too. Just let it take it's time!

  13. What a glorious place to hike! Really very impressive that you made it.

  14. One of my favorite hikes, Sharon. And we took this one with our golden retriever (complete with backpack). We had absolutely NO idea that dogs weren't allowed on the path and no one said anything coming or going. We were happy in our ignorant bliss that afternoon and Brulee had the time of his life. You're quite the lady for tackling that one - it was truly challenging!

  15. Thank you for sharing your amazing photos! That is beautiful.

    I do like to hike and we have gone to Yosemite a few times and had some amazing hikes. I don't know what the longest trail was but we didn't take enough water and ended up carrying our son for the last hour! It was a good lesson to be more prepared and to be sure and check out the level of difficulty before choosing to take out kids on any trail. Live and learn.

  16. I've been hiking a few times. I love it, but have a few reservations. I'm terrified of bear... and snakes. And I don't like sunscreen -- it's sticky and gross. That said, I'd go on a hike once per month. That would be a perfect amount.