Thursday, April 25, 2013

Catching up with Dreamer and Socks

Team TNT has been separated now for THREE weeks....we're surviving, but not without almost daily phone calls or texts when able and prayers being lifted to Heaven on behalf of each other. We truly are one and space, time and geography can't separate us from each other's spirits.

Charlie and I have been holding down the fort at home in Michigan, mostly waiting for surgery to repair the knee. Once it was diagnosed, the waiting for the actual surgery date was agonizing for the Team....I'm not a patient person anyway, (something God was helping me to work on while hiking), so each day, I tried to fill my time doing some projects around the house, that required TWO the basement, etc. 

While Dreamer, on the other hand, has been plugging away at the miles on the Appalachian Trail. He continues to average about 15 miles per day, still enduring all sorts of nasty weather and terrain. The Smoky Mountains were a real challenge for him physically and probably even more mentally. Getting back on trail as a solo hiker was tough emotionally and mentally for him. I struggle from a distance being challenged in different ways....missing him, being jealous about the fact that he's still their living 'our' dream and keeping myself from being depressed at my situation here.

He's meeting a whole section of new hikers and even catching up with some that we started with in our first week! He's able to move so much faster without me and so now is cranking out serious miles! I'm so proud of him and his perseverance.... Honest revelation: I don't think, were the roles reversed, that I'd still be out there alone, trying to go on. I'm weak and would be way too lonely and insecure about my abilities to hike alone. 

His physical load is a bit more because he has to carry all the gear himself and his heart is a little heavier too....without the rest of the Team....

The countdown will begin again soon!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Team TNT + C: T Solo hikes the Appalachian Trail for a bit....

As you know, I, 'Socks' have been home for the past two weeks, discovering the issue with the knee, dealing with being 'off trail',  (which amounts to BIG, FAT DEPRESSION), and trying to enjoy my little piece of joy in Lydia Ann.

Well, the MRI news wasn't good.... I tore both the medial and lateral meniscus in my left knee. Dr. stunned that I'd hiked 60 miles on it, but understood the amount of damage because of it. I will be having surgery day after tomorrow, Monday, April 22 to repair it with some rehab/PT following.  NOW, the real countdown can begin. I am prepping for being 'laid up' for a few days.... (for those of you that know me, I'm not a good 'sit still' kind of person), so, I'm gathering up my stuff for "sick bay."

I'll be staying with Hannah and Nate and our granddaughter, Lydia for a few days, till I can ditch the crutches and be mobile again. I'll be heading back home to resume some sort of exercise and rehab to get moving back towards the trail! Hoping to work with a trainer to regain some strength in this leg and learn what I can do to protect it from further injury once I get hiking again. The word I'm hanging onto is: BELIEVE! It's my new mantra. I believe I WILL be back out there hiking by mid-June. Charlie and I will be taking a field trip to visit Dreamer as soon as I'm able to drive.

Charlie is getting pretty out of shape and needs to get hiking again! He lives a pretty LAZY life here as evidenced in these pictures.
Charlie sleeping in his bed with his 'friend', Mr. Fluffy

Charlie sleeping on the couch in the family room. 

We've been able to catch up with Dream over the past couple days as he 'zero'ed in Erwin, Tennessee. He was able to upload and mail several videos that I'll be posting over the next couple days to catch everyone up. He's doing great, is putting in BIG miles and is missing us both. He did create the best video for me... It's just scenery, but the song and the trail speak to my heart, when he is unable to verbalize how much he misses us. Thank you sweetheart. We miss you too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

TNT will be on the mend!!!

It’s literally been a roller coaster of emotions over the past couple of weeks, since returning to Michigan and Tom (Dreamer) returning to the trail without the rest of Team TNT. We are both struggling in similar, yet very different ways.

We are a couple. We are a team. We are partners. 

And we don’t do well apart…. So the first issue is just the physical separation. I’m lonesome and I miss him. He’s expressing much the same and more. “The hike just isn’t the same without you”, he says. We just enjoy being together…. most of the time. So, this geographical separation is very disconcerting for us. So too, is the separation of the ‘dream.’ He’s moving on down the trail, experiencing things I’ll miss, meeting other hikers I’ll never know and accumulating the total mileage that I won’t have or will have to make up at some other time.

We had grown adept at trail life. We knew who carried what gear, who did what when we got into camp, who packed up what when we broke down camp and which one of us was documenting what events. We had ‘become’ part of the trail. Dreamer, Socks and Charlie. We were well known on the trail, mainly because of Charlie.
(He’s a real charmer!) Many times, we’d be hiking down the trail, in the middle of nowhere and someone would come up and say, “Hey, you must be Charlie!” And then, we’d introduce ourselves as, “Charlie’s parents”, which we were better known as.
Our daily life ran pretty much the same…. Get up, pack up, hike, eat, sleep and start all over again the next day. Moving in tandem with many other hikers, driven by the same inner compass, moving northbound. Up and down mountains, through mud, slush and snow, to get to that next shelter, where we’d pitch our tent amongst the other colorful nylon domes and rest our weary and tired bones.

Tom says it’s been tough hiking through the Smoky Mountain National Park, literally. The terrain is very different from what we’d experienced thus far. Apparently, the trail groomers/builders in this section thought switchbacks were for sissies, because everything is either straight up or straight down. And, it’s been tough mentally for him. Even though he’s hiking along with many others, he still feels alone and isolated without us. And that’s even tougher than the physical part.

BUT, after a visit with the orthopedic surgeon yesterday, we have reason to celebrate!! Team TNT will be back together! I learned from the MRI that I had torn both the medial and lateral meniscus in my left knee. It’s no wonder it hurt and it’s quite amazing that I managed to hike almost 60 miles with that injury, up some of the toughest assents and descents we’d hiked over the 175 miles that I was able to hike. Guess I’m one tough hiker chick, have a very high pain threshold or was just simple determined to hike!

Surgery is scheduled at this time for April 22nd and with a bit of rehab and strength training, I should be back on trail the first week of June! Making my countdown calendar look like this!

I’ve got my gear all ready to pack and Charlie is ready too! As soon as we get the go-ahead after surgery, Charlie and I will start just walking flat ground, gaining strength and putting some miles together. After a bit longer, we can add our packs and start putting down even more miles. Even though we know that we won’t be able to keep up with the 20 miles that Tom is now doing, we’ll be there and doing our best. It won’t be long before Team TNT is cranking out some good miles TOGETHER!!

We are so thankful for all the love; support and prayers that we’ve been shown over this past couple weeks. The outpouring has been simply overwhelming. We are humbled and honored to have such wonderful family and friends… some of which we don’t even know, but are part of the bigger hiking community. We are profoundly grateful and blessed.

If you haven't seen this video that some dear friends created, check this out. I am so humbled with this much love.

We will continue to keep you updated with information from the rehab to the places and miles Tom is covering! Stay tuned. Things are about to get exciting! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This is the saddest story of all....

As many of you know, we have gotten 175 miles into our hike, made it to Fontana Dam and were just a day away from heading into the Smoky Mountain National Park, another huge geographical milestone for Team TNT. We assumed we'd be celebrating our next victory and anticipating the excitement of heading into the Smokies.... heavy with supplies, anticipating deep snow and much more of the same weather that we've had. It didn't matter though. It's all part of the experience! (As we frequently say....)

Instead, we are in Michigan, repacking packs and supply boxes to eliminate mine and Charlies supplies from them. I will not be continuing on the trail at this time....

It makes me cry to even think about tomorrow, when Dreamer (Tom), will return to Fontana Dam and continue on into the Smoky Mountains without us. This isn't how it was supposed to happen. This wasn't part of the 'dream'.

After the initial injury to my left knee on March 15, descending Albert Mountain, into Rock Gap.... things just never improved enough to make the pain tolerable for any length of time. I stoically continued, trying not to complain, praying for a miracle, hoping for the best. We spent the week in "cell #19" as we lovingly referred to it, nursing it with ice, Motrin and pain pills. The trail angels came out of the woodwork to help us "slack-pack" so that I didn't have to carry much weight and hopefully rest the knee. But, all of that just didn't work and the last couple days on trail were sheer agony. Wincing with every footfall, I painfully made my way down into Fontana Dam to end my through hike of the AT.

We tearfully admitted that I was done and needed to come home for further evaluation by my own orthopedic, Easter Sunday, we made the long drive to Michigan to surprise our kids and tell them about the change in our plans.

Monday, I was able to see the surgeon for evaluation, Tuesday had an MRI and will be following up next Tuesday for probably surgery recommendation. He suspects a torn meniscus, which would be an easy repair and rehab. But with the arthritic condition of the knee, more could be in store. We are holding our breath till next week and the final answers come.

In the meantime, I am icing, resting and eating antiinflammatory medications, dreading tomorrow, when Tom heads back to the trail to resume his thru hike. My hope now is that I will be able to rehab quickly and rejoin Tom later down the trail... for day hikes, slack packing or maybe even be able to continue to finish the trail with him. We are praying for this ending to our story.

My last photo of me... taken on trail.

I made a video to explain how I feel and you can watch it HERE.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Team TNT....Off the Grid....Out of Touch...

Team TNT has taken a quick hiatus to Michigan to visit kids for Easter and more... we'll update with details hopefully tomorrow.

We have a new video available on YouTube with snippits from some of our last days on trail... suffice it to say, it's been a very difficult week, made so much better with lots of love from MANY trail angels who have helped us make a very uncomfortable situation, much more tolerable.

Stay tuned.... we have more video to come over the next 48 hours.

Watch the newest HERE!