Monday, July 20, 2015

It Won't Keep

As a young mother I came across this sweet poem that reminded me what's really important in raising children. I learned that sparkling clean floors are no comparison to the sparkle in my child's eyes because I spent time with them.

As I am now in my 'mature' years with children grown and grandkids to love on, my focus the past few years has been on a different kind of baby.

It's the story locked with in me that cries to be released. It's the words that I birth as I labor over a blank sheet of paper or watch the curser blink on my computer screen. I've learned that when the ideas are hot, I must act on them. If I ignore it or procrastinate, those little ideas start to slip away.

We discussed this at our last writers group meeting,  brainstorming over the things that often keep us from writing and how to knock down those roadblocks to creativity.  Writing is hard work. But if we want to hone our craft, we must be dedicated. This writing gift deserves attention, just as a baby does.

A few days before the writers meeting, I created a quiet space for myself in our little travel trailer. A place where I can spread out my bible, my journals, my colored pencils and unleash my creativity as I spend time in God's Word.  This was due in part to inspiration I received from a friend who loves to journal and has put a crafter's touch to it. Illustrated Faith is one name for it.

 I've always been an 'underline my bible verse' kind of gal but now I'm taking it to the next level. I take my Sunday Morning sermon notes and ponder them all week long, taking a deeper look at the scriptures, meditating on them and making notes in my journal. I might color or add a sticker or two to make the thoughts I've collected stand out a little more or I might just stick with my ink pen. But the point is, I am spending more time in the Word, more time focused on things of eternal value. (it helps that in the tin-can travel trailer internet reception gets spotty so I can't surf the web very well, and therefore I can truly remain focused on what I went out there for!)

I shared with the writing group about my 'She-Shed' because I realized that one of the roadblocks in my writing is that I have allowed myself to be distracted and often the reason I don't write is because it was easier to just spend time on Facebook rather than putting any effort into writing.  While there's been a writing block in front of me that has had a lock on my creativity the truth is my creative juices tend to run driest when my spiritual life is also dry. When I have a clear close connection with Christ, my creativity flows much better. And my quiet time with the Lord had gotten way too quiet as of late if you catch my meaning...

The sermon this past Sunday was about priorities which just seemed to cement further the whole idea of getting back into God's Word and back into writing my words! In fact, our pastor encouraged us to make a list of the top 5 priorities in our lives.

It was pretty much a no-brainer for me to make my list (God, Family, Friends...) but I pushed myself to go deeper with each item on the list, listing specific measurable goals for each one. Not surprisingly, #5 was to make time and effort to work on my creative side.

So... quiet down Facebook,
Internet go to sleep.
I'm writing a story
and the words just won't keep.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Just Another Drop in the Bucket.... List

#24 Do an overnight backpacking trip

O Lord, My God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the world Thy hands have made

I'm married to a former boy scout leader. When I first met Bruce he was the scout master for a troop of boys who were crazy about outdoor adventures. They did some sort of outdoor/camping/hiking venture each month. After we were married and Bruce retired from scouting, he and I began building our camping experiences together: car camping. You know, drive to the campsite, unload your gear, pitch your tent and cook over the camp stove. Take a day hike or laze around by the river. Eventually we upgraded to the little trailer we now have and camping took on a new level of adventure as we hit the road. All good. All fun.

Just about every year, Bruce takes off with a buddy or two and they backpack into some place you can only get to on foot and spend a few days exploring and experiencing nature in a way not possible by car. And I always send him off with a kiss and a wave and enjoy a couple of days of my own version of 'living on the edge" (i.e. sleeping in, not cooking, pampering myself, being lazy) I have no problem with his Wild at Heart escapes; indeed I heartily approve!

privacy in the privy?
 not much!
Still... we have often talked about doing an overnight backpacking trip of our own. And talk was all we did because there were a few issues that always cropped up in our discussions that made me waver on committing to the action.
Things like...
carrying a back pack with my bad neck, shoulders, and back...
walking a long distance...
climbing up & down with my bad feet & knees...
sleeping on the hard ground with my princess & the pea condition and let's not forget the biggie...
where does one p--p in the wilderness???
 (come on, you gotta think about stuff like that! and be prepared.) 

It occurred to me recently that if I did not do this thing I so really wanted to do NOW, I would likely NEVER do it because all those physical challenges were only going to get bigger, not smaller. So, with tenacity and positive thinking I said "This is the year!"

After some discussion of options we finally settled on the Chain Lakes Trail at Mt. Baker. We reasoned the trail wasn't so arduous that I would be defeated, the distance to the first lake was more than achievable, and the adventure I was longing for would be easily obtained by this outing. 

We chose 4th of July weekend for our trip and hoped for good weather. Well, good weather has been more than on our side here of late. In fact, we've had record breaking temperatures for most of June and into July. As the day of our trip neared and the temperatures continued to soar we began to second guess our choice. Should we postpone in favor of cooler weather? Well, since summer is only a few weeks long and there are plenty of other commitments already plugged into our calendars, we decided to stick to the original plan and make the best of it. 

So, Saturday afternoon we packed all our gear-- the majority of it going into Bruce's backpack, leaving me with a fairly light load. (Still, 20# on your back that you are not used to carrying, is something to adjust to) We set out for the mountain around 4 pm, relying on the cool of the evening to carry us into the woods. Even so it was in the 80's as we set forth on the Chain Lakes Trail. But we had a nice breeze rising over the mountains and not only did that serve to keep us feeling refreshed but it deterred the bugs and flies as well.

when through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees...

It's about a 2 mile trek from Artist Point, our starting point, to the first lake, Mazama, where we'd decided we'd camp. (You can do the whole Chain, which is about 7 miles, passing 5 lakes in all, and then there's an additional trek back up the highway if your car is in the parking lot at Artist Point. For our adventure we chose to just hike in to Mazama, spend the night and hike back out the way we came.) With only a couple of stops for pictures and water consumption, we made it to Lake Mazama in about 90 minutes. Not too bad considering. 

when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gently breeze...

The trail is fairly easy going. Well marked, smooth in most places, only a few areas of rocky terrain. Uphill for the first leg, then a gradual descent as you near Mazama. I was surprised at how well I did, considering my tennis shoes were not the best for hiking. The backpack was a good fit (thank you to our friend T-man. who lent us some great gear) so I was pleased with how well that went also. Bruce couldn't see it since he was trailing behind me but I had a mile-wide grin on my face most of the time, just feeling so much pleasure at actually doing what I'd long talked about doing. Such is the reward for knocking off a bucket list item! 

then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

We met several hikers as we traversed and wondered if we'd find a campsite once we reached the lake. If we didn't find a spot we'd have to either push on another mile or more to the next lake with campsites, or improvise. Mazama has 4 designated campsites and we quickly discovered they were all occupied. We were bummed but not defeated. We circled the lake and decided to appropriate a nice lush level area on the opposite side of the lake, which just happened to be adjacent to a pleasant little waterfall and gurgling creek that fed into Mazama. 
Can you say perfect?

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing, power and majesty praise to the King...

After our supper we hung the bear bag and explored a little. Then, with night falling and bugs rising, we dived into the tent for protection and rest. I wondered if we'd be able to spot the "Star of Bethlehem" that we'd been enjoying from our back deck at home but it was just a little lower than the tree line for us to see. However, around 1 am we were awakened by the brightness of the moon over the lake. We climbed out of our tent to watch in awe as it glistened on the rippling lake and then, breathlessly, we gazed at a million stars that were dotting the night sky.

Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name...

Sleeping in Sunday morning wasn't really an option as 1) the princess was definitely feeling the pea and 2) the temperature was quickly rising making the tent uncomfortable. We retrieved the bear bag and rooted around for our breakfast. We climbed up above the waterfall and found a luscious grassy paradise in which to consume our granola. 

I sing for joy at the work of your hands, forever I'll love you, for ever I'll stand

Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

We did a little hike later to the second lake, Iceberg, so named because in a usual year of snow, there are really icebergs sticking up out of the lake. This year has been usually dry and with an early summer, the lake, while icily cold, had no icebergs. 

Lord of all creation, of water, earth and sky, the heavens are your tabernacle, glory to the Lord on high

And speaking of icy cold, what about Lake Mazama? It was surprisingly tolerable in temperature, made more so by the fact that by noon it was quite hot out. With our campsite broken down and packed up, we decided a dip in the lake before departure was required. 

God of Wonders, beyond our galaxy ~ you are holy!

from the highest of heights to the depths of the sea...

The hike back out was much more challenging than coming in. I admit, I loaded up on Ibuprofen before we left the parking lot on Saturday and took some more when we reached camp. I took some more before we began the return trek. But, add in a night of somewhat restless sleep, a sun that was beating down hotter than ever, and that slow descent to the lake that seemed now ridiculously steep as we climbed back out, and you'll have a picture of the challenges I was facing.

But I refused to be defeated! I am Tenacious Woman! This is my Super Power!! 

Creation's revealing Your majesty

Not to mention that every time I stopped I was attacked by biting flies!! I had no choice but to just press on! 

from the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring, every creature unique in the song that it sings...

We stopped for a nice break once we reached the intersection on the trail for Chain Lakes and Ptarmigan Ridge. From there we could actually see the parking lot and that spurred us on for the final leg. With not much of a breeze, a 3-O-Clock sun beating down on us, and the backpack seeming twice as heavy as the day before (I don't know-- do dirty clothes weigh more?) the last mile felt monotonous. 

awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim...
Yes... I was grateful to reach the end of the trail when we did. My shoulders were complaining, my feet were hurting and I had finished all my water about 20 minutes before we got to the car and was feeling quite parched. The first thing I did when we popped the trunk was grab 2 bottles of water from there. One went directly over my head and other went down my throat. 

You are amazing God!

Bruce was proud of me for doing what I set out to do, thrilled that we were finally able to experience this together. I was proud of my accomplishment as well. (And not ashamed to admit that there was more Ibuprofen consumed along with the water.)

the pulse of life within my wrist, a fallen snow, a rising mist, there is no higher praise than this

We stopped in Glacier for ice cream as a reward and celebration of our adventure. As we licked the fast melting treat off our fingers and hands, we looked at each other and grinned. How beautiful are the feet on the mountain!

oh my soul wells up, yes my soul wells up with Hallelujahs

* song excerpts from How Great Thou Art, Shout to the Lord, God of Wonders, Indescribable, and Hallelujahs,

Friday, June 26, 2015

I've Been Meaning to Write

and by write, I mean something of significance. 
Too many days and weeks have drifted by with nary a whisper of inspiration to stir my heart to write. It's a little scary and frustrating and depressing. 

At our last writers group gathering we decided to create a homework assignment where for every day we don't write, we'll at least list the reason why. 

 too often my excuse is this...

but really it's more like... I can't think of anything to write, or I don't feel like writing so I might as well diddle the day away by scrolling thru' facebook. 


I guess it's been coming on for some time now. Feeling like I don't have anything creative left to blog about or write a short story about. I've got lots of stories written that could certainly use editing but I just don't feel the unction to do that either.

At that last meeting, we each shared what helps us get moving again when we've gotten stuck. For me its taking a trip. Something about a road trip or a camping adventure always seems to help kick it back in gear. 

I've got a backpacking adventure coming up 4th of July weekend. Here's hoping the muse will be here when I get back.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Follows 28?

So, I've just completed 28 days following the Fast Metabolism Diet in strict adherence.  I reached my goal and I feel great. I am craving a cup of coffee with cream again. Can I drink it? What about the foods I avoided while following the 28 day regime? I don't want to lose the healthy glow I have or the energy I feel. What next?

Maintenance can sometimes be an unpopular activity. I know from all my previous weight loss journeys that it is often harder than the diet was.

Weight management wasn't an issue for me as a teen. I was a skinny little freckled face farm girl growing up. Even though I gained a TON of weight during both my pregnancies (60# with the first, 45# with the second) I managed to lose all of but 5# with in the first year of their births. And truly at the time, I needed that extra weight. I was too thin.

I didn't start having issues with unwanted weight gain until I was separated from my first husband. For the first time in my adult life I didn't have anyone controlling what I ate so, I ate whatever I wanted. (A lot of despair and anger was soothed by the midnight munchies, a lot of stifled aggression diverted by the drive thru window of Micky-D's) As a result I quickly packed on the pounds. Then life got more settled and calm, I was working a full time job and slowly the weight came back down.

I fell in love and we got married. Happy and content to play homemaker again I started banging out all kinds of wonderful in the kitchen. Aaaannnnnd, the weight crept back on. When one day I saw a picture of myself I knew I had reached the point of desperately needing to do something.

the picture that spurred me to change.
I joined Weight Watchers. I was successful with the program and by the end of the first year had reached my goal. I kept the weight off for several years, then slowly it started creeping back on. Maintenance wasn't going so well.

Next came Curves. Running my own business, working out every day, following the weight management program we promoted, I quickly lost weight. Then the stress of running my own business took it's toll and slowly but surely the weight snuck back on. It seems to be a never ending story with me! Lose it, Gain it. Lost it, Gain it. Aaaaaaghhhh!

The thing each of these weight loss stories have in common was the maintenance phase. Each time I reached a goal and started living out life in maintenance mode, it would only last for so long. Why? Because I had been counting calories or counting points or following specific meal plans and as soon as I returned to eating without counting, my body greedily grabbed hold of each morsel of caloric/ fat and stacked it back on. That is why this 28 Day Fast Metabolism Diet held such appeal. I wanted a metabolism that was on fire! I wanted my food to properly fuel me, to be my ally not my enemy.

So, back to my original question. Can I have my coffee with cream? After following specific phases of eating each week and avoiding certain foods, what do I do now?

Well, since wheat and gluten and corn were already on my "do not touch" list due to food allergies I have no issue with leaving them off for forever! I suspect dairy should not have a primary place in my eating anymore but in moderation I plan to explore that. Many of the things that were strictly OFF THE LIST, during the last month I have no problem leaving behind. And let's be honest, NO ONE can eat anything and everything and expect to stay fit and healthy. We all need to be sensible in our eating choices to be healthy.  But after following the plan that allowed my liver to heal and process food the way it was designed to and for my metabolism to be revved up, I should be able to navigate maintenance successfully. I'll post an update from time to time and let you know how it's going. Feel free to help hold me accountable. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

28 Days Part Two

Winter isn't my finest time to begin with, given that S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) compounds my long term battle with depression. Add in some feeling pudgy and sluggish and you've got a major black cloud hanging over you.

So.. with the arrival of spring and thoughts of cute summer tops and capri's to wear, I went into a little bit of panic mode when I discovered the change in my body (thanks post-menopause) over the winter months meant those cute clothes just didn't fit right anymore. I knew I had to do something.

A few days later in a conversation with my daughter-in-law, she mentioned a diet that several ladies she knew were following. She said they were eating all the time and losing weight. But she said it was super strict, in that there were lots of things prohibited on the eating plan. Still, they were losing and liking it. I was intrigued and later that day I googled the title and did some research on the diet.

The Fast Metabolism Diet was the name of the book and author Haylie Pomroy assured readers that they could lose up to 20# in just 4 weeks through the fat burning power of food. I didn't feel I needed to lose that much but so much of what she wrote about resonated with me because of my prior days of owning my own fitness center. We taught a weight management program at Curves that espoused ways to raise your metabolism so you'd lose the weight and keep it off. (That eating plan didn't work so well for me once I realized I was wheat/ gluten --and to some degree, dairy- sensitive). I realized just a few chapters into the book that the main problem for me was that the restrictive calorie intake had messed big time with my metabolism. I also wasn't eating enough of the right kinds of foods and I needed some help to get me back on track.

Now, you might think I'd know how to eat right but I'll admit right now, in the last few years I've gotten lazy in the kitchen. My cooking had gotten into a rut and I'd been going for fast, easy and cheap when it came to food purchases and prep. And because I am wheat/gluten and semi-dairy sensitive, it's a challenge to find food I can eat sometimes. I needed a meal map to point me in the right direction. Fortunately The Fast Metabolism Diet was full of maps and pointers. A kind of GPS for my tummy!

The diet is strict: NO wheat, corn, soy, dairy, sugar, artificial sweeteners, fruit juice, alcohol and, (the biggest one for me) NO COFFEE!! (I almost said "I can't do this" when I read that part. In fact I negotiated with myself thinking I could give up all of it but the coffee but once I finished the book I decided if I was going to commit to doing this, I needed to commit fully and give it my all)
And that's what  I did. I began to wean myself off the caffeine. I sat down and wrote out a meal map of my own, using some of the books recipes and suggestions, substituting some foods with ones I liked better (but that were still on the approved foods list) I prepared a shopping list. Best of all, my husband said he wanted to do this with me!

While the diet is strict, and with that list, you think "well, what's left to eat?" but honestly, I've never eaten better! Fresh fruit, veggies by the bushel full, lean meats--organic and nitrate free whenever possible, healthy fats like almonds and cashews, hummus and  avocados. Yes, I've missed my coffee and cream but it's not for forever. It's 28 days of eating strategically, designed to light your metabolism on fire! I've not felt deprived or starving and when I'm hungry it's because it's time to eat not because I've had to skip a meal to try and justify calorie intake.

 I feel better than I have in years! I have energy and stamina. My digestive issues have settled down to almost nothing. I've had only one bad day of fibromyalgia symptoms and I know it was related to snacking on some questionable food items at a party. I've lost inches all over and definitely seen a reduction in that troublesome tummy area! And weight loss? As of this morning I've dropped 10 lbs and am at the lowest weight I've been since... I can't remember when! (hubby reports he's lost about 5 lbs and definitely feels better and really loves and appreciates the wholesome goodness of the meals)

Bottom line is... it works.

coming next.... What follows 28? 

Friday, June 12, 2015

28 Days; Part One

About 4 weeks ago I embarked on a journey of eating to lose some weight and heal my metabolism. Yes, eating.

You may know that 2 years ago I decided to get serious about losing 20# that just really needed to go. It took me 5 months to reach that goal and I did it by counting calories, exercise and perseverance. The outcome was that I lost 25#, felt good about it and had reestablished a fitness pattern that kept me walking just about every day, rain or shine. I had earned some bragging rights.

from Sept. 2013, when I reached my goal of losing 20#

But the downside of losing weight through counting calories (and not very many of them since it was a 1200 calorie diet) is that when I reached my goal and went into 'maintenance' the struggle to keep it off was harder than the diet. But, again, exercise and perseverance paid off and I kept the weight off for a year. Then... last summer, I relaxed a little... I didn't count calories every day and I didn't pay attention to what I was stuffing in my mouth quite as much. Because, frankly, who wants to live that way every day for the rest of your life? Apparently, those who wish to remain skinny, because in just a few short weeks, with a couple of vacation/road trips thrown in, 5# had re-attached themselves to me, mostly in the most unattractive place possible for a woman-- my gut!!

Now, granted five pounds doesn't sound so bad and I justified it by saying I was still within my goal weight range (remember, I started out just wanting to lose 20) but I think we all know we prefer to see the pointer on the scale be on that side of the number rather than the other side. And I could see the pointer creeping, wavering, teetering the wrong direction. Like creeping affluence, if I didn't get this in check I'd be back where I was before the diet!  Add to this, I just felt sluggish, tired, bloated and, well, just not so great anymore. And because the majority of it seemed settled in my mid-section, it felt difficult to disguise it or ignore it.

Over the winter I tried numerous times to shake it off. Every Monday morning I'd start with best intentions but by around 3 pm I'd be scooping peanut butter out of the jar and slathering it on a granola bar or a banana. Every night as I laid in bed, I'd reprimand myself and lay out a plan for the next day. "No cream in my coffee. If I just give up cream in my coffee I bet I'd lose some weight over time." or "no more butter. or peanut butter." and every day I'd fail. After a few weeks of this I'd shake my head and say "oh well, whatever" and pull out another loose fitting top to wear to hide my muffin-top.

As spring rolled around and I started the process of rotating spring and summer wear to the front and putting heavy sweaters and such in the back, the thought occurred to me that a lot of my cute summer wear might not fit as well.... but I was wrong. They didn't really fit AT ALL. I wasn't just dealing with some extra weight, I was dealing with inches, rolls, of unwanted fat! Maybe the weight gain was a measly five (okay, now 6) pounds but my body (thank you post-menopause) had really changed in shape. It was kind of depressing. Who am I kidding? It was all kinds of Yuck! Something had to change. Something had to give.

to be continued...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hiking Mt Pilchuck

photo from fs/usda 
I spotted this hike on a Facebook page called "365 things to do in Washington" and immediately put it on my bucket list. I was captured by the promise of outstanding views once we reached the top, where a (built in 1921) Fire Lookout is perched. I read up on the trail and was not put off by the description even though it was clear it would be a steep and rocky traverse. We made plans to hike with some friends and headed out.

It was overcast and spitting rain when we left Deming. We met up with Tim and Wendy in Sedro Wooley and rode with them to the trail head. 

We hit the trail head about 10:15. 
It was spitting rain and cold so we put on our extra layers and headed up. 




Once we got under the trees we were dry and of course once you start climbing you get warm. Layers off. The first part of the trail is packed dirt and much like Horseshoe Bend. Ladder type stairs and bridges to cross and climb. Then we hit the rocks.

there's a trail thought that??

pausing for photo ops gave all of us a chance to breathe!

What a strange trail. We were literally climbing up and over rubble that looks like there were massive rock slides but the rocks are so tightly packed together there is no wibble-wobble of any sort. But you do need to be aware of where you are stepping so you don't catch your toe on a sharp rock sticking out and if the rocks are wet, they are slick. 
So it was slow going. Which was fine by me!

a good place to stop and take a group photo

We gained at altitude of around 2200 feet in 3 miles so that tells you how steep it was in places. (btw, the trail info says its 6 miles RT but Wendy's Fitbit said we logged in close to 8 miles RT. We decided to go with 8 because our bodies certainly felt like we had!!)

We took numerous breaks for breathing and resting. I wasn't able to drink water like I have been doing (I was thirsty but didn't want to have to pee on the trail!!) (at least not every 30 minutes) We snacked as we hiked, with lunch at the lookout as incentive. 

beautiful sights like this made me glad to be there despite all difficulties

my best friend, boyfriend and hiking buddy all rolled into one. best of all I'm married to him!

About 3/4 of the way up I tripped and--- down I went. I used my left arm to catch myself so my left thumb/palm took the brunt and I felt it all the way up to elbow. I didn't cry but I did make "Owie" noises. I was able to get going again right away but man did my hand hurt the rest of the day. 

just after I climbed these stairs I took my fall. boo.

roadside attractions

Bruce and I were both moving slow but steady and the Crandall's don't hike that much faster plus Wendy was searching out several geocaches while we traversed. She found a few!

the first Geocache of the day!

We experienced rain, wind, fog, cold, near sun-breaks and more fog, mist and clouds. It was beautiful in that and when we were able to catch glimpses of mountain ranges to our left (north? west? I have no idea) it was wonderful. Even with all the clouds blocking a full view. 

God made this!

God made this!!

We reached the lookout around 1:30? and quickly figured out that the trail into the lookout was much to risky for wise old mature people like us. 
There wasn't a trail, just a rubble of more rock to pick your way across. 
It was wet and slick and you really needed mountain goat abilities to cross. 
is there a trail? 

well others are doing it... do we?

We watched young nimble brave (or foolish) hikers do it and they assured us it was a rather scary/hairy experience. (and that was going up. coming down would present another big challenge!) That convinced us to just admire the look out and not try to get up any closer. Bummed about not getting up in it but we wouldn't have had that much more of a view given the heavy cloud cover. 

taking in the view from below the look out

as close as I'm going to get

We tried to find some dry spots to crouch and eat our lunches, swatting off bugs as we did. Once we stopped moving the flies and mosquitoes were rabid about finding their own source of food supply and a moving target is harder to hit. We made it a pretty short lunch break and since it was raining a bit harder at that point, it made no sense to sit in the open and get wet. We left around 2:10 to head back down. 

one of many phenomenal rock formations we came across. 

Wendy had brought trekking poles so we each had a pole for stability as we made our way back down. 

thick fog rolling up the hills

My thighs and knees were already aching as we climbed and my backpack, light as it was, was pulling on my neck and shoulders plus my  left hand was throbbing. It wasn't much fun anymore for me at this point but I was determined to not be whiny. But as we climbed down, each step was one more agonizing movement than the last. My knees were NOT happy. 

At one point the water I desperately had needed to take in, desperately needed to be released so the Crandall's went ahead on the trail and Bruce stayed back so that I could go into the bush and make tinkle without being surprised by other hikers (of which there were many)  (squatting to make tinkle by the way, when your knees are hurting, isn't very much fun, nor easy, and I was quite afraid I might topple over and make tinkle in places I didn't want to) 

Tired, sore and hurting, chilled and thirsty, I was moving slower and slower. Tired makes for clumsy in my world and I had a few near misses as I tripped and slipped. Thankfully the trekking pole slowed me down and kept me upright but I sure felt that in my shoulder! (Eventually my hero took my backpack from me and carried it in addition to his own)

smiling despite the pain! 

We made it back to the car around 5. I traded muddy wet shoes for my Chaco's, my wet rain jacket for warm dry fleece and ate my juicy orange and downed my water. Aaah. That's better. Then there was the added satisfaction that I had completed the hike. I did it! Whether I made it into the Lookout or not, I did make it to the top. Bucket List check!

Rating the hike on a scale of 1-10 for enjoyment, I'm giving it around a 4. It was a lot of hard work without a lot of return on my investment. If that sounds like I'm not being very appreciative think of this:  If you have to keep your eyes down all the time to watch where you are stepping,(which on this trail, you really need to) you can't really take in the views and since that is one of the main reasons I like to hike, I was feeling a little deprived. However when I was able to stop and look around me, I was immensely pleased. 
There were many "WOW! WOW! WOW!" moments. 

how beautiful are the feet... 

Even with the cloud cover there was so much vastness and beauty. Not making it into the Lookout also causes me to give this hike a lower score. But that was my choice and it was based on common sense and safety. If it had been dry and clear, who knows. I might have been able to make that last ascent. 

All in all, it was a wonderful outing.
 Time spent with friends. 
Time spent in nature. 
Time spent with my sweetie. 
Time spent taking in God's Amazing creation. 
Time well spent. 
Well spent indeed.