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End of the Line

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End of the Line

Postby Cross Country » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:10 pm

I had an echocardiogram stress test yesterday, my second one in 7 months. I'm not in any immediate danger of anything bad but there have been recent changes.
My cardiologist is Dr. Ray Mathews of USC. He's as good as there is. His assistant and her husband are backpackers. In the past she and Dr. Mathews encouraged me to go backpacking.
In the past 8 years I have had 6 major surgeries (5 in a 20 month period up to April 2011)

Today I had a talk with Dr. Mathews and he advised me to go backpacking no more and I had to agree with him.

All good things must come to an end (sooner or later). Fortunately for me it was later (today). I began BPing 40 years ago and in the first 25 years went more than 500 days. I went more than 600 days in the 40 years. Some here have more experience than I and a few have equal or more depth and breadth in the Sierra than I, but not to many. I nearly always had 2 goals: explore and fish. To me the best exploring (and probably fishing) was cross country. That's why I'm Cross Country.
After my wife (saint Diane) and my 2 sons, Jim and MIke (what a tough little backpacker he was and a great companion too) my fondest memories are of my BP trips. My best memories are, of course my trips with Mike. He and I went between 120 and 170 days (I never kept a journal so must make guestiments.
I'll still be writing here. I have experiences about which I have yet to write.

This pic was taken nearly 9 years ago at Grouse Lake on my last "real" backpacking trip. I was 60 yo.
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Re: End of the Line

Postby rlown » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:57 pm

Sorry to hear that, Tom. Looks like you have lots of great memories to fall back on. You didn't say you can't camp and fish though :) .

Russ
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Re: End of the Line

Postby oldranger » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:19 pm

Tom,

I told my wife that when I couldn't backpack anymore that I would buy a boat! Think about it!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: End of the Line

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:17 pm

You definitely have lots of great memories - treasure them. And I hope you can still go car camping. As someone who is 60, it's the possibility of still being able to car camp when my doctor gives me the word, allows me to realize that I can still be there. There are lots of wonderful car camping places on the west and east side to still be there.
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Re: End of the Line

Postby kpeter » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:21 pm

I have often contemplated how I will handle my own end-of-the-line. My father backpacked until he was 70, despite a fused disc in his back and years of heart troubles culminating in the implant of a early-model pacemaker/defibrillator. It was finally arthritis that caused him to stop. Walking with the extra weight just got to be too painful for him.

A number of years ago I came across a couple camped near the falls below Moonlight Lake in the Sabrina Basin that seemed to be in their 80s. They had been backpacking for half a century together before they gave up. They said that for some years they had hired the horse packers to haul in campground gear and they spent a couple of weeks there each summer. I had always previously been averse to horse packers but that day was an epiphany. I realized that I could have arranged something like that for my father and he could have gotten back in the wilderness for another 10 years.

While I didn't think of it/pursue it in time to help my dad, I did conclude that when my backpacking days were over that I would not hesitate to accept some assistance from the equine family.

In any case, I'm sorry you have reached your end-of-the-line. I hope you can find other ways to stay in touch with the wilderness. Let us know how it goes, those of us who are not far behind can learn much as we observe how others deal gracefully with this transition.
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Re: End of the Line

Postby Wild Bill » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:52 am

In 1989, I was at Bishop Hospital visiting my grandmother, who very near the end of her life. A man in his 60's was brought in the room next to her. We were divided only by "that hospital curtain."
I was told the man suffered a massive heart attack while backpacking in Pioneer Basin. He was transported to Bishop Hospital by helicopter. With the help of machines they were able to maintain his heart on a regular rhythm, but it was determined the backpacker was brain dead.

The backpackers' family was summoned, and they all arrived at his bedside. I heard them all saying their goodbyes to the man, above the sound of the beeping of the machine that maintained his heart beat.

The doctor pulled the plug; no more beeping.

The wailing and weeping of all his family members was more than I could bare. It still haunts me to this day.

Take time to love on the ones you love. Life is short.
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Re: End of the Line

Postby slowhiker » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:59 pm

I am sorry to hear that you will no longer be backpacking, as it is clear that you fully embraced the unique experience of being outside and on your own. However, I greatly appreciate that you are sharing your story, since it highlights that you are an individual that engaged in something that you loved and could share with others, your actions are inspiring.

It's funny in December 2011 as a result of an echocardiogram, My cardiologist told me (I am now 58 years old) that I had what is called Severe Mytral Valve Prolapse Regurgitation and that I should avoid backpacking until I got it repaired. I am almost completely without any symptoms, so it was not information I wanted to hear. In fact I was inclined to just ignore the cardiologist and continue to go backpacking until I started to feel symptoms (however, upon reflection this seems like ignoring the clouds and past experience and attempting to go over a mountain pass, when it would be much better to stop and wait for the weather to move through).

So, after getting 2 more opinions and learning that with the repair that it was highly likely I would be able to continue to backpack, I have scheduled the surgery for early May. Because of various issues the surgery cannot be of the less invasive type and has to be done as open heart surgery.

I will not be going on any back country trips this summer. I am so glad my wife and I had an opportunity last summer to spend a week together going over MeGee Pass and exploring the Silver Divide.
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Re: End of the Line

Postby Electra » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:24 am

Cross Country - savor those great memories you have created and discover all the great lower elevation spots the world has to offer! I think we all wonder how much time we have to enjoy the wilderness as we get older and this surely gives perspective. Slowhiker, I was born with minor prolapse regurgitation that has gradually gotten worse but not enough to limit my activities. The wear and tear on my body from lots of backcountry days has caught up to me in the last few years (i am 45) so that may stop me before my ticker does! Anyway, happy hiking to all and cherish each trip and memory we create...
Dan Braun
Evergreen Lodge & SYMG
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Re: End of the Line

Postby Rosabella » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:38 am

Electra wrote:.... happy hiking to all and cherish each trip and memory we create...

Well said.

We all know that the party is going to end for each of us at some time… sometimes we get a “last call” but sometimes not. Totally embracing the the experiences we have now will be the treasured memories of tomorrow.

Cross Country, I look forward to reading your stories!
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Re: End of the Line

Postby dave54 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:44 am

oldranger wrote:Tom,

I told my wife that when I couldn't backpack anymore that I would buy a boat! Think about it!

Mike


That is not entirely tongue in cheek. Paddling is a way of getting into some remote sites without the body stress of backpacking.

As mentioned above car camping and day hikes may work.

Bikepacking is nearly as arduous as backpacking, but the stresses are somewhat different than backpacking.
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Re: End of the Line

Postby SSSdave » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:19 am

50 years from now none of us will be backpacking. We are all mortal and not only will our backpacking days end, so will our fleshly existance. Sooner or later all our numbers sadly come up. I'm not far behind you Cross Country and at least to this point given my current condition and near life long healthy lifestyle, hope to backpack well into my 70s.

What you can do is visit the many worthwhile near road side areas of the outdoors. A good start today would be to buy the Benchmark Maps, "California Road and Recreeation Atlas" and exploring its pages. There is actually much more available here in California than common people are aware of if one explores the back roads. And I'm not talking about high wheel base 4wd but rather just low end SUV vehicles with 4wd. One can find wonderful places that are natural and unspoiled. For instance along the Eastern Sierra stagebrush zones there are many such roads where one can drive out a mile or three, park, set up camp, and enjoy nature. However don't expect to do so at the same times of summer one used to visit the high country. Instead those areas have their spring often in May when much is still green and small streams still flowing. And in our Southland deserts are myriad such roads though again the time of year is early often between February and April. But what about the wonderful high country? Few roads route into those areas, and the ones that do are often crawling with people. Well like I said in 50 years none of us are going to be backpacking so all good things eventually come to an end and we must move on. But that doesn't mean that while we are still flesh and blood, one might drive up occasionally to where one can easily reach and just be glad for those experiences we were blessed to experience when we could.

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http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_B/11-K2-1.jpg
one can drive up to this area above any July
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Re: End of the Line

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:24 pm

Well you've done more in the Sierra then 99% of the whole world population so at least you can feel good in what you have done. Hopefully you can now find another activity that can keep you happy.

Hopefully my end of the backpacking line will be the same one as my life.
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