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Posts Tagged ‘llamas’

Haven’t updated the blog in a while- seems like I’m slowly emerging out of a time warp where I find myself suddenly at the end of April. The last month has been tough- my father-in-law passed away at 71 after a long battle with cancer and then ten days later my 15-year old dog Bailey lost the use of her back legs and we had to say goodbye to her too. So much sadness for me and my husband Brian, we’re finally clawing our way back to normalcy. It makes me dread the day I will lose my dad, supporter of all my adventures and one of the few people that totally understands me. Makes it even more important that I enjoy the time I have with him.

Bailey and Zeus- both gone but the great memories will live in my heart forever.

Bailey and Zeus- both gone but the great memories will live in my heart forever.

But on to more pleasant things- I have gotten to do a bit of traveling lately, some for work, some for play. I represented the Arizona Trail Association at the first annual Continental Divide Trail Kickoff event in Silver City, NM. It was a lot of fun and I got to see some of my fellow Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors that I’d met earlier this year. Interesting to see what Silver City has done with the CDTC’s Gateway Community Program. I worked a booth at the Outdoor Expo and it was surprising to hear how many folks were already familiar with the Arizona Trail.

Gateway Community of the CDT

Gateway Community of the CDT

Blue bootprints with the CDT logo take you through town

Blue bootprints with the CDT logo take you through town

Folks at the Arizona Trail Booth

Folks at the Arizona Trail Booth

Found a CDT hiking mini-donkey

Found a CDT hiking mini-donkey

Big Ditch Park

Big Ditch Park

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Allgood, Jabba, Bearclaw, Not a Chance, She-ra and Snorkel on the Long Distance Hiking panel discussion

CDT

CDT

I wished that I had more time to explore the CDT and Gila Wilderness, guess a return trip is in order sometime. My 17-year old nephew Chase visited us from Michigan for Spring Break and at the top of his list was the Grand Canyon. I was excited to introduce someone new to the Canyon and he loved every minute. I bet I have a backpacking companion in the making.

Brian and Chase at the Rim

Brian and Chase at the Rim

Chase on the AZT

Chase on the AZT

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One happy guy!

Taking in the view

Taking in the view

We also took him up Mount Lemmon and did something I’ve never done- hiked to the Mount Lemmon highpoint. It was a fun little route with outstanding views and Chase got to sign his first summit register. We did a couple short hikes on the mountain and enjoyed the sunset.

Windy Point

Windy Point

Chase signs in at the Mount Lemmon Highpoint

Chase signs in at the Mount Lemmon Highpoint

The next day I took Chase to see some petroglyphs near my house and then I suggested we take a short hike in the wash nearby. We were hiking along and all of a sudden Chase said, “Aunt Sirena, you just stepped on a rattlesnake!” Sure, I thought- this coming from the kid that had messed with me all week playing jokes. Unfortunately, this time it wasn’t a joke. I looked back and my stomach dropped as I saw the rattlesnake lying in the shade with an indent in the sand near its tail where I’d stepped on it. Fortunately it was too cold to move quickly, otherwise I’d be writing this while recovering from a massive bite.

Rattlesnake!

Rattlesnake!

Last weekend was the fourth annual Pine/Strawberry Trails Day. I just love visiting this pair of friendly Gateway Communities in the cool pines! It’s baby goat season at Fossil Creek Ranch and I got to feed two-day old kids and put them in their enclosure for the night.

Friendly signs welcome Arizona Trail users to town

Friendly signs welcome Arizona Trail users to town

Pine Trailhead

Pine Trailhead

Double Goats!

Double Goats!

The next day was Trails Day and there were hikes, bike rides, and a birding walk. I hiked a loop with the Llamas from Fossil Creek Ranch and lots of folks stopped by the Arizona Trail booth for info.

On the trail with Llamas from the Fossil Creek Ranch

On the trail with Llamas from the Fossil Creek Ranch

Thru-hikers Toad and Butch

Thru-hikers Toad and Butch

In the evening, I recorded an interview for The Trail Show podcast about the Arizona trail, you can listen to it here (my part starts at 41:13): http://thetrailshow.com/the-trail-show-35-the-gpt/

Last but not least, I traveled to the Arizona Trail’s southern terminus at the Mexican Border to shoot a piece  with Tony Paniagua from Arizona Public Media about the Arizona Trail. It will be a series of short segments about different environments and communities across the state. We’re shooting in Patagonia next.

Nate, me and Tony at Montezuma Pass

Nate, me and Tony at Montezuma Pass

It has been good to stay busy to keep my mind off my recent losses. My house is empty of animals for the first time in 18 years and it feels so strange. I’m really aching for a backpacking trip. Haven’t been out since mid-March, when I hiked 50 miles from Mexico to Patagonia to help get the two Warrior Hike veterans started on their thru-hike. I’ll post about that soon, it was a very rewarding experience.

In Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson news, it’s baby season again! Lots of babies mean lots of mouths to feed- your donation helps to nourish the little ones!

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Baby Killdeer

Baby Killdeer

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Baby Great Horned Owls with their foster mom, Luna

Same Great Horned Owls a week later

Same Great Horned Owls a week later

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May 3-7

Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim

Hiking into Pine is a special moment for any thru-hiker on the Arizona Trail. The mountains have been rugged, the footing rough, and after 400 miles on the trail, it’s time for a break! And Pine/Strawberry is the perfect Gateway Community for it- the locals have really embraced the Arizona Trail and all the hikers, bikers, and equestrians it brings to their small mountain towns.DSCF4188

I had a Gateway Community event on the night of the 3rd, but first I had to hike the remaining 12 miles into Pine. My dad and I went out for breakfast, and as I was leaving…I twisted my ankle!! Not on some remote, rocky trail- but in town! It didn’t feel too bad at the time, so I continued with my hike as scheduled.

The event at That Brewery (brewers of Arizona Trail Ale!) was so much fun, the weather was perfect and the Mother Road Trio from Flagstaff provided the entertainment. All sorts of folks came up to me, asking how my ankle was doing. News travels fast in a small town.

Mother Road Trio

Mother Road Trio

The next day was the third annual Pine Strawberry Trails Day– a full day of hikes, demonstrations, trailwork and activities! I tagged along for the Llama hike with Joyce Bittner and her llamas from Fossil Creek Creamery.

Joyce talks about the llamas

Joyce talks about the llamas

Just me and my llama

The next day was a much-needed day off, only a big chunk of the day was taken up by interviews and planning for the next leg of the hike. See the interview I did in Pine here. I was able to get an amazing massage from Vivian Seville and visit with my husband who came up to see me.

The next morning my dad dropped me off at Washington Park so that I could hike the 17 miles back into Pine. I was on the Highline Trail, an old route taken by the families who settled here underneath the Mogollon Rim many years ago. There are parts of it that remind me of Sedona- exposed expanses of red rock.

Not Sedona, it's the Highline Trail

Not Sedona, it’s the Highline Trail

About 5 miles into the hike, I heard something go buzzing by my ear. I wear a hoody with a baseball cap and my first thought was that a fly had gotten stuck in my hood. Then I realized it might be a bee and freaked out. You see, I have a large local allergic reaction that causes pain and swelling that last for up to two weeks. I whipped my hood and hat off and took my hair out of my braid. “zzzz…zzzzzzzzzzz…zzzzzzzzz” was all I could hear in my left ear. Maybe it’s in my shirt! I took my shirt off- no bee. I was flailing my head around, hoping to dislodge the bee without getting stung. It was getting angrier and louder- “zzzzz…ZZZZZ…ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!”

So now I’m whipping my head around like some crazy woman, hoping no one comes by because I’m in my bra, but also hoping that someone comes by and helps me get this fricking bee out of my hair! While I was trying to get the bee out, another bee bumped me in the chin. This is not a good sign, it means that they are trying to get me out of their territory and that there will be more bees on the way.

Finally it gets quiet and I gather my things and run like hell. I get about a quarter-mile away and finally let out a sigh of relief that it is over. Only it’s not over…”ZZZZ…zzzzzz…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”. The bee was still in my hair! More flailing around, trying to get it out. I took my shirt off and there it was, attached to the shirt, stinger pulled from its body. I brushed it off and ran again.

Another quarter-mile away, I put my pack down, ready to take a break after over 15 minutes of terror. And to my horror, I hear “ZZZZZ…zzzzzzzzz…ZZZZZZZZZZZZ!” Are you kidding me? A second bee had been stuck in my hair on top of my head!! One last round of whipping my head around to free the second bee and it was finally over.

People often ask me, “Aren’t you scared of all the animals out there?” and truthfully there is nothing that scares me more than the idea of a bee attack. The episode was terrifying, knowing that if there were enough pissed-off bees in the area that I could have been seriously hurt or died. I am so lucky that I escaped without even one sting. I was also glad that I’d added an epi-pen to my first aid kit for my thru-hike.

By this time I was exhausted from all the energy I’d spent on the bee encounter, but I still had 12 miles to go. I tried to enjoy the expansive views on the Highline of the Mazatzals and 4 peaks and saw several groups of elk.

Mazatzals in the distance

Mazatzals in the distance

There are great places to relax by running creeks on the Highline and I met fellow thru-hiker Nate and his dog Bandit at the Geronimo Creek trailhead. I stopped for a while and soaked my feet and told him of my crazy day so far. He told me of a much worse encounter he’d had with bees while climbing that made me realize it could have been much more serious.

Flowers along the Highline

Flowers along the Highline

After a nice break and chat with Nate, I continued on the trail. I was hiking along, fiddling with something in my backpack hip pockets when all of a sudden I found myself on the ground, and could feel blood dripping down my scalp. It all happened so fast it took me a minute to realize what had happened. There was a tree down in the trail, head height, with several branches broken off. I had hit the tree with my head and two of the branches cut my scalp.

The downed tree- look at those broken branches- ouch!!

The downed tree- look at those broken branches- ouch!!

I got my bandanna out and sure enough, I was bleeding. I reminded myself that scalps bleed a lot and tried to assess the damage by taking head selfies to try and see the cut. Assured that my brain wasn’t coming out my head, I stopped the bleeding with some pressure and took a bit to gather my composure. I sent a text to my dad that I’d hit my head and trudged the remaining five miles to the trailhead. I couldn’t believe the day I’d had- such an emotional rollercoaster! So lucky that I didn’t get stung or knock myself out cold when I hit my head.

I was happy to see my dad waiting at the trailhead for me and know that this crazy day was finally over. Thankfully I was able to take the next day off from hiking and rest up. I had given myself whiplash when I hit my head, completely negating the wonderful massage I’d had before the hike. I did venture out to Fossil Creek Creamery to feed the baby goats and got sent away with some delicious goat milk fudge and goat cheese for my travels.

One of many baby goats at the Fossil Creek Creamery

One of many baby goats at the Fossil Creek Creamery

I will continue to fill in the entries I didn’t have time for during the hike and I’m also keeping the fundraising campaign open until the end of June. To date, the Arizona Trail Trek has raised $17,800 toward the goal of $20,000 for the Arizona Trail Association- Click here to go to the donate page!

Heart in the sky

Heart in the sky

 

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