2017 East Coast Magical Mystery Tour Day 1

This year we won’t be heading to a national park out west ūüė¶ — ¬†instead have quite the itinerary planned on the east coast with stops in DC, Pittsburg, girls to NYC and boys to DE, etc.

Day 1 had us drive to DC to the National Cathederal and then see U2 with our friends the Martins in seats next to us, and other friends from PBO and Chapel Hill in attendance but not directly with us.

Photos of the day below.

A golden opportunity to mention quantity missed?

The National Cathedral had damage in an earthquake a couple years back that they will be working of for quite some time.

Stained glass depicting NASA’s trip to the moon:

After the Cathedral we got a taste of DC traffic — about an hour to go just 13 miles to get to the hotel! ¬† We had a quick turn around to get a quick bite to eat and to the stadium for the show. ¬†We got an Uber Black but on the way to dinner changed plans and had him drop us off at Chinese, and then walked to the stadium.

After ticket resolution, we finally made it in and got see the Lumineers play a couple songs!

U2 was pretty amazing, as always.





AT: HTC Summer backpacking trip day 3

I slept much better on the 2nd night, as per usual. ¬†I was a bit worried about the cold, but it ended up not being as cold as the 1st night. ¬† Sometime just before 6 a.m., though, I was woken by sounds that are very hard to explain. ¬†In hindsight, it’s easy to call them “aggressive munching sounds.” ¬†This was right next to me on the right side of my tent. ¬†And then something was making noise on the upper side of the left tent. ¬†I quickly looked up, and saw the shadow of a head of some kind of animal poking its snout all over my tent! ¬†Based on the way the light was behind it, and not being fully awake, it was not a shape that made sense to me, but my 1st guess was baby bear. ¬†I sleep with my hiking poles in the tent, so I “gently” tapped the top corner of the tent a couple times to get it to move.

Once that was done, I could hear munching all around the tents. ¬†I poked my head out and could see lots of animals — adult and baby horses! ¬†I couldn’t get my phone camera to work for a bit, and all I got was this crazy video:

Well once the animals cleared out, there was no getting back to sleep.  But being awake did allow me to watch an incredible sunrise:


After we had breakfast and packed, we walked down to a nice site for morning prayer.  This was the site on way down:


IMG_0966.jpgThe altar:


During prayer:


During prayer there were horses all around us, and some kept going after various packs — trying to get inside, etc. ¬† During the NT reading, there was literally a stampede right through the middle of our group, and Shea had to jump out of the way, while I had to jump behind a tree. ¬†I have a little video of the aftermath where they were running back through:

Eventually the horses let us be and we were able to complete a wonderful morning prayer service, including communion.

As the last day we just had a 5 mile hike, mostly downhill;

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 2.02.44 PM.png




All in all another great trip. ¬†I hope to take some of the 2sparrows clan out on this same loop in July. ¬†But every time I am on the AT, I can’t help but thinking about thru-hiking. ¬†I’ve done close to 500 miles on it now, but spread out over many years. ¬† I really would like a crack at doing it in one go someday!

AT: HTC Summer backpacking trip day 2

I never sleep well on Day 1 on the trail, and this trip was no different. ¬†Despite a camp site right next to a load stream, which was wonderful, I still tossed and turned a bit. ¬†And I was chilly, even in my so called 20F bag. ¬†:-/ ¬†Granted I did not put on my socks or jacket, but still! ¬†I woke up early and decided to walk the 5 minutes towards the shelter, as there were two nice privy’s there.

Shea was camped near me, without even a rainfly:

On the way back I heard what I thought sounded like a lot of cows coming our way, and hoped the guys up on the ridge were awake!  (Shea, David, Caleb, and myself had all camped lower by the stream.)  I arrived and luckily the guys were up, with at least 10 large steer (including LARGE horns) all mixed amongst their tents, including this fire eating bad boy:

And a video:

After all the excitement, I made another amazing cup of stream side coffee:

The privy (“a poo with a view”):

We had a shorter hike today, but it was still a climb:

Once we reached the top of that climb it was really open and exposed — and crowded. ¬†There’s a day hiker’s parking lot not far from there, and there were a lot of people out. ¬†It was still gorgeous:

We debated at the top about what to do. ¬†Shea had scouted the area by the spring, and it was crowded. ¬†There were other options further on, but since he hadn’t scouted them, we didn’t know if they’d be any better. ¬†In the end we headed to the spring and eventually found some good camp sites.

After setting up, Bob and I decided to “fast pack” to Mount Rogers (just a small day back).

AT: HTC Summer 2017 backpacking trip day 1

The summer Holy Trinity Chatham back packing trip was set for Grayson Highlands State Park in VA. ¬†Michael and I drove up and met the crew — large this time at 15 hikers, at the trail head. ¬†We were joining the AT at Fairwood Road (VA 603). The two of us got there late due to a nail in the tire that had to be taken care of before we left Pittsboro, right when most of the hikers were ready to go. The big group took off and Michael and I left 15-20 minutes later.

We caught the main group half way up the hill, and then I decided to keep moving to find Shae, Caleb, and Bob, who were ahead. ¬†After at least an hour or more on my own, I started to worry that perhaps the plan had changed and I hadn’t been told! ¬†I had stayed on the AT, but never saw the lead group. ¬†I reached the 6 mile point, where the itinerary said the shelter would be, but it was at least another two miles according to the map and other hikers. ¬†I debated for quite some time here on what to do, eventually finding a nice rock to make a cup of coffee on and wait. ¬†And wait. ¬†And Wait.

After 45 minutes I debated whether I should just go forward to the shelter/camp site and wait, or go back.  I assumed either way if the plan had changed, someone would realize I was following the original plan and come find me.   I opted to hike back to the group, and after at least a mile, finally came across Shea, Caleb, and Bob.  They had waited at a trail junction, but slightly off the trail, and we never saw each other. The four of hiked on to the camp area and set up our own tents, and waited for the rest of the crew to show up.

Photo’s below:

Strava data – this includes my back and forth route along the AT:

Trailhead sign (and my HEAVY pack — I packed enough to solo thru-hike the AT other than food!):

I was my own barista on the trail, waiting for the group and debating whether to go forward or back… ¬†The coconut is a bit sweet for me, but the frothiness was good.

Lots of ponies by the shelter… We had camped before this, on the other side of a fence and stream as no tents were allowed in this area.

A good place for the food, considering the bear stories we had heard on the trail and read in the log book at Wise Shelter…

Ankle saga

In the latest twist with the ankle (haha)– I’ve had a serious allergic reaction to the topical NSAID that was prescribed (Pennsaid). ¬†The odd thing is that it took about a week of application before it blew up. ¬†It first popped up a the beach, so maybe the sun exposure + Pennsaid triggered it, or maybe it was just the amount of medicine applied over time. ¬†Either way, it’s the worst itch I’ve ever had. ¬†ūüė¶

It also happened right before I flew to the UK, and I was unable to find any hydrocortisone there (prescription only in the UK, apparently). ¬†All I could do is buy some anti-septic cream, which didn’t seem to do anything, and soak it in epsom salt in the hotel tub.

When I got back the states, I tried hydrocortisone for the weekend, but I went to see my regular doctor on Monday, who prescribed a topical steroid. ¬† In the 16 hours and 3 applications of that since yesterday, it’s not started kicking in yet! ¬†Here’s a photo for those of you that like such things. ¬†It’s not clear how much inflammation is from the allergic reaction and how much remains from the injury.

I have run 20 minutes 4 or 5 times now, and that all feels fine. ¬† But I certainly feel like I’m hindered by the current state of the foot. ¬†ūüė¶




Ankle update

Saw the Doctor this morning for my 20 day follow-up. ¬† Lot’s to digest so let me just bullet point it:
  • I was worried yesterday about the base of the 5th metatarsal, so that’s where he started.¬† It was sore and in general the middle of the foot felt tight and inflamed.¬† And the base of the metatarsal was sore to pressure.¬† PT’s resonance test on it was fine, so it was unlikely to be a stress fracture, but I wanted the doc to check it out.¬† He immediately ruled out stress fracture there, and just called it tarsometatarsal joint inflammation.
  • Main cause of that is not wearing the boot long enough, but worse (in his mind), I was wearing my Luna sandals.¬† And that’s mostly what I’ve worn the past week or more, other than when on the bike trainer and I’ve put on my bike shoes (not clipless, just platform shoes).¬† That includes all the walking around Carowinds on Friday, Saturday soccer game and errands, etc.¬† I did have the brace on for the most part until Sunday afternoon when I stopped wearing it. ¬† And I walked barefoot around the house and on the treadmill when not in Luna’s.¬† He just pointed out that with barefoot or sandals, the load on the tarsals is much higher, and right now, the foot needs less stress, not more.¬† So he wants me in a shoe for a while. ¬† I’ve got on my bike shoe right now which is pretty stiff and shouldn’t allow much movement.
  • There is still lots of soreness all over – peroneal tendon, peroneal muscle, ATFL, calcaneousfibular ligament, anterior tibialis, etc.¬† Some of those are likely due to lack of shoe per above above but some of course due to the original injury.
  • He said if it’s really sore, wear the boot. ¬†(It’s not really sore, in my mind.) ¬†He said the brace is really just for aversion and wouldn’t help much with where I am right now.
  • He mostly wants to see inflammation go down and recommends topical and oral NSAIDs, elevation, massage, maybe a bit of ice.
  • He wrote a prescription for Rayos, a delayed release prednisone, that he said I could take at night, to combat the body’s inflammation.¬† I’m a bit torn, as I really don’t like taking things like steroids or NSAIDs unless I really have to. ¬†I would take this at night, and the delayed release means it limits the body’s inflammation response which is greatest while sleeping. ¬†I’ll have a think on this and read up on it before making a decision.
  • (I have been doing the topical NSAID 2x per day, but have limited oral NSAIDs unless it’s really bothersome.¬† I have been taking minerva and using collagen in a shake to try to help with inflammation and speed up natural recovery.)
  • He didn’t say anything about when I could run, just listen to your body, and when there’s no pain, then I can do whatever.¬† As there’s some pain / discomfort now, I’m certain he was implying don’t run yet, and don’t walk too much yet!¬† At least not without a more supportive shoe.
  • He did say cycling was fine as long as it doesn’t cause additional pain/discomfort.¬† I rode 85 miles last week and only feel that’s been a good thing, albeit starting to get boring. ¬†(I’ve only ridden on the trainer, not outside!)
I’m still not too concerned with no running since I have no races until late August.¬† But even then, I am in this for the long game and want to be running when I’m 70+.¬† So making sure this heals properly now is key.¬† I’m most concerned with the possibility of having chronic ankle sprains going forward.¬† In all my many years of trail and off-trail running, while my ankles have rolled many times, they have never sprained!¬† So ensuring strength and mobility in all the tendons, ligaments, and muscles, is most key to me right now.
Here are some photos over time:
Day 2:
Day 3:
IMG_0765Day 7:IMG_0770
Day 13IMG_0783

Right ankle inversion

I busted up my ankle pretty good on Wednesday May 3rd while scrimmaging with the U13 team I help coach. ¬†I made a beautiful spin move — as I was running across the field towards the right side line, I stopped the ball with my R foot and rolled it 180 degrees back towards the center. ¬†As I reversed direction to go to where the ball was, my R leg got stuck under R2’s R leg, which had just firmly planted at full speed where he thought the ball was going to be. ¬†My full weight at full speed was going the opposite direction, my R ankle was fully planted, and so the ankle inverted. ¬†I heard a snap, but the kids said they did not, so maybe it was one of those “psychological sounds.”

Instantly the R ankle looked like baseball.  Two of the kids had to carry me off the field.  (It was one of the rare times when I was the only adult out there!)  I had to call in other parents to come get me, and they immediately stepped up to get kids where they needed to be, get me to the ER Ortho, etc.

I did feel a bit rushed by the Ortho team. ¬†We arrived at 7:15, they typically close at 7:30, and they had me out the door by 7:45. ¬† The diagnosis was not 100% definitive, but it was “likely not a break” based on the x-ray. ¬†But based on the physical exam, the doc wasn’t 100% sure. ¬†They put me in a boot and set a follow up for 3 weeks later.

Pic on R is night of, L is next morning.

Here’s the pretty colors on Saturday night, 3 days later…

I wasn’t happy with the 3 week follow up, so moved it up to 6 days on Tuesday. ¬†On Monday I had mostly ditched the boot and just wrapped it with either an ace bandage and/or a compression brace. ¬†I also spun on the trainer for 15 minutes which felt really good — I had a lot more mobility after that.

Then I saw the doctor on Tuesday a.m., six days after the initial injury, and here’s what I wrote to my coach:

First, he said he was surprised I wasn’t casted when I came in after the injury, he would have put me in a cast for two weeks immediately and then done a re-eval. Today’s diagnosis is a R ankle inversion sprain / severe sprain of the calcaneo fibular ligament. Likely tore perineal retinaculum and other tissue.

Second, he said I was a week or two ahead of where he’d like me — see #1 above. He’d prefer me still in the boot for another week, but did give me an ankle brace with a lot more lateral support than what I’ve been wearing (compression brace and/or ace bandage). He feels like any lateral movement is going to continue to strain the ligament as well as the perineal muscle. He was able to get a lot of movement in the ankle that shouldn’t be there — i.e. the torn ligament is allowing much too much movement and his concern is that long term if I don’t let it heal properly, it’s like to sprain again and again. I’ve sprained my ankles twice in my life, both in soccer and once almost 30 years ago, even with all the trail running and off trail running (orienteering, rogaining, adventure racing).

Can start PT immediately (appt Thursday already scheduled) with non-weight bearing and advance as tolerated. I could tell he wasn’t 100% sold on me spinning on the trainer already, but said as long as there’s no lateral or fwd/bkwd movement of the ankle, it shouldn’t be an issue. I think since it helped mobility so much yesterday it’s a no brainer to at least continue doing it lightly!

Both oral and local anti-inflammatories prescribed. Massage from toes to above ankle a couple of times a day to help inflammation subside.

So there you go… I’ll start PT in a couple days. ¬†I’ll spin on the trainer as long as it doesn’t cause any discomfort and seems beneficial. ¬†And hopefully I’ll be back soon, and stronger than ever! ¬†ūüôāLateral-Ankle-Sprain.png