Announcement: A Hopeful Appeal

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While driving across the country to return from our Pacific Crest Trail journey, we stopped in at the University of Maryland for Cindy to have another round of cognitive tests and scans. As we left the Neuroimaging Center at the … Continue reading

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Our daughter Charissa, Cindy and I will hike the 2666 mile Pacific Crest Trail, starting this June 15.  This will complete the Triple Crown of long distance hiking for Cindy, the top item on her bucket list as she deals with her early onset Alzheimer’s.  In the coming months the blog posts will focus on both Alzheimer issues and the PCT adventure.

We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.

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Turning the Tables

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We are making our way home in Charissa’s car, our daughter already having flown home to surprise our other daughter Serena for her birthday. Along the way the tables were turned a few times. Having guided Cindy along the PCT, … Continue reading

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Dave Kinney’s Last Mile

After my previous post, Dave Kinney sent me a note via Facebook that was quite touching. I have his permission to share it here. Thank you Dave … for everything.

“As we hiked back from the Mexican boarder to the cars I fell far behind you guys because I couldn’t control my emotions and I was crying like a baby. For many reasons I think. The moment of finishing a long hike brought back to me strong emotions from the end of the CDT… Also the realization that this may be Cindy’s last hike… But mostly from the enormity of the love. The love of long time friends reuniting to give each other support. Sharing that love through hiking…The love of a daughter sacrificing to help her parents live their dream. But mostly the way you show your love for Cindy. I was with you guys only a few days, but I had the honor of seeing you care for Cindy in the most gentle, patient, and loving way. It was very moving for me. You and Cindy are very blessed to love each other.”


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Last Miles

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Last days are a time for reflection; last miles are a time for emotion. For most thru-hikers the emotions are excitement and joy as they approach the end of a long journey filled with challenges. Those were my emotions each … Continue reading

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The last few days of a hike usually stand out from the rest in one’s memory. Last days are the time for both looking back and planning ahead. For this journey our last days were spent with hiking buddies who came out or the purpose of sharing this time with us.

My first long distance hike was of the Appalachian Trail, where northbounders spend their last few days hiking through the 100-mile wilderness in Maine, the most remote part of the trail. Those last few days stood out in an unfortunate way for me, as a poor diet throughout the hike caught up with me near the end. Most of my first thru-hike was like a long stay at an amusement park, while the last days were pure drudgery. Perhaps that’s why I did not spend the time dreaming of doing any other long distance hikes in the future.

That changed with the PCT hike in 1977. Having had my moment of truth in the High Sierra I no longer had the illusion that “one long distance hike is enough” for my adventurous spirit. Ironically I spent those last days similar to the first for that journey, separated from the group because of a wrong turn I made. Rotunda tell I had a guidebook this time and getting back on track was not a problem … and I had plenty of alone time for dreaming about future journeys.

I had plenty of reflection time towards the end of the Continental Divide Journey in 1985, having tackled a 16 day stretch near the end alone. I only encountered one other person out there that whole time. Cindy and I became engaged right before the hike, nothing that transpired for those seven months on the trail deterred us from following through with marriage. Long distance hiking is as good a test as any for a young couple to know whether they should spend their lives together. My thoughts turned to our future as a family rather than more journeys, though more still there would be.

The most recent before this one was the year long American Discovery Trail. Charissa joined us for our last four days of walking home. Her presence alone made those last few days special, though she claims we were trying to kill her with a 22-mile day thrown in there. That was just 2 1/2 years ago, but seems much longer considering Cindy’s current condition. At the time I made no plans for future journeys, not even for hiking the PCT, as Cindy’s future at that time was uncertain

After picking up Dave at the airport we spent two days in the San Jacinto area. First we did a four mile hike up to the ridge south of Tahquitz Peak and back (though Dave wants to claim it was five miles). Then we took the Palm Springs tram up the northeast face up to 8400 feet. From there we hiked nine miles to the PCT and back (don’t believe Dave when he tells you ten).

Kirk and Bret joined us after San Jacinto for an out and back hike on the PCT in the Anza-Borrego Desert. That was followed by a 10.8 mile hike through the Laguna Mountains (Dave might tell you it was fifteen, according to his method of rounding up). That left us a few miles to do around Lake Morena and the final miles to the border and back from Campo.

Dave, Kirk and Bret

Dave, Kirk and Bret

Now there is more certainty about the future, but not for more journeys together with my long time hiking partner. Instead, my plans these last few days revolve around a networked approach towards improving brain health, based on a journal article I read while out here. These plans are for both Cindy and myself, as my family history involves Alzheimer’s as well. These plans may benefit our children as well.

If things work out perhaps there will be more journeys to plan someday. We will just have to see.

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Varied Memories

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We sat around the picnic table of our campsite in the warm desert evening, a full moon rising over the arid hills on the horizon. The campground was an oasis of pines, providing ideal bedding for the night, in the … Continue reading

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Swept Away

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Dave Kinney, Kirk Haselton and Kirk’s friend Bret Burns hiked into the Anza-Borrego Desert with us. We enjoyed panoramic views over the low growing cholla, prickly pear and barrel cacti. The wide open views were of more mountain backdrops with … Continue reading

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Moments of Truth

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Near the end of a journey one must confront thoughts about home. Some thru-hikers are like Trail Dancer, who Charissa saw often. He did not want his journey to end and he declared that he would refuse to do more … Continue reading

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As soon as we entered the lobby of the Four Points Sheraton in Rancho Cucamonga Martin declared from the counter: “I said you would be back.” I was about to give him my name for check-in but he already knew. … Continue reading

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