21 September 2008: The Maine Event

Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
Fri/Sat, 9/12,13/08 - On the road
Left Maineville at 10:30 am and got to Erin (with a cute little baby bump) and Chris in Poughkeepsie at 9:00 pm. Celebrated my 61st lap around the sun at Erin's for breakfast, with 7 hrs on the road, and diner at Ruth's (AT hiking partner, Maine Dish) in Holden, Maine. After dinner, Ruth and I started organizing hike gear, much of which was packed away 4 years ago and made a shopping list for a 4 day excursion into Baxter State Park.

Sunday, 9/14/08 - Shopping
Bought some zip-on wind pants, a couple carabiners, a 20ft repelling strap (just-in-case), and Aqua Mira (water purification drops) at local outfitter. Got LED flashlights and some dense foam anti-fatigue floor padding that got converted to very functional hip pads for under the "power belt" (helps anchor the C-leg). Sewed more fleece padding to the hip area of the shrink garment.

Monday, 9/15/08 - Final preparations-forgot camera
Went hiking on North Bubble mountain in Acadia: 2.5 or 3 miles in about 3 hours.

North Bubble is pretty steep up and almost all boulders and smooth rock. Down was more gradual going from rock to dirt. Working on technical on uphill and learning to ride the knee on the down. A lot is a matter of confidence in myself, the prosthetic, the poles, and shoes. Things don't come naturally, I have to think about each placement of prosthetic foot and therefore have to plan a strategy in the placement of my good foot and then I also have to be aware of where to put each of the poles. Practice seems to be big in my future.
I did have to crawl on my good knee past a part that was too narrow to get both of my feet thru (foot over foot) and actually sat and slid my butt to get over a steep smooth slippery rock. There was lots of sweating but, no "involuntary descents". "Mikie sticks" worked really good except for some chafing from wrist straps.

Tuesday, 9/16/08 -
Cut a couple feet off the repelling straps to make stronger, softer wrist straps on the "mikie sticks".

Filled the car with all the gear that would fit and headed north to Baxter. Settled into camp and prepared our packs for tomorrows ascent to Chimney Pond. Spent the rest of the evening trying to keep the smokey (flame retardants) wood burning. We enjoyed smoked hot-dogs and a full moon next to Roaring Brook.

Wednesday, 9/17/08-No Helicopter Rides
Got a good early start had everything packed and ready to go at 7:30am. Chimney pond trail is nothing but rocks and boulders and more stones. It starts with a gradual ascent and goes to a steeper inconsistent 10 to 18 inch stair-stepping and then rock hopping and boulder climbing. The first mile was slow but steady going with foot placement on which rock? Had to pick my way thru the rocks but moving at a consistent pace. As it got steeper, foot place got more difficult, lost all forward momentum each step, my gluts started to burn, so; I switch the mikie sticks to the forearm mode to allow me to lift my weight with my upper body. That worked well for a few minutes, regained steady forward momentum until one of the mikie-sticks broke "like butter". I had replacement parts but carried only one of the piece that broke (middle extension tube). I fixed the pole and continued to climb in hiking stick mode, and began to realize that the hiking stick mode was not going to get me all the way up and the forearm crutch wasn't viable because the poles weren't strong enough, and I couldn't get down if I broke another middle tube. So just short of Halfway Rock we sat and discussed options and decided to play it safe and go back down the mountain. Elevation gain of 800 to 900 feet in 1.7 miles in about 2 hours.
(fairly level start up the mountain)

(rocks make foot placement tougher and incline getting steeper)

(continued getting tougher and steeper)

(using the only spare middle tube made continuing too risky)

(heading down)

(the "mikie sticks" were designed for down hill)

(sticks performed very well and "No Helicopter ride")

We got back down and met with the ranger. He arranged for us to have a tent site at Roaring Brook for the night. So we moved the car, set up the tent and I took a power nap. After lunch we went to Sandy stream pond. We took a 2 mile round trip walk into moose bog country.
The pond is a popular moose hang out. We did by chance meet a orthopedic surgeon from Oklahoma. He had great admiration for my abilities and ambitions i.e. He pumped my sagging ego back up, I was really feeling bummed out. We did see a full grown female moose in the pond.

We also met our neighbors in the next lean-to while out there, and they invited us to come over for wine and snacks when we got back. Which we did . Enjoyed the wine and the snacks and the wonderful conversation.

Thanks to John and Sheila for a much needed hug and unexpected "trail magic" moment. We couldn't have met more delightful people. We hope to stay in contact with them.

After leaving them and while waiting for the local outhouse to free up we chatted with a couple of guys from Mass at their camp site. The conversation started with—what do you do with your packs while you're finishing the AT (climbing Katahdin) and ended with "my give a shit is broken". When we got back to camp, it was dark. But we spent a few more hours trying to get the wood to burn-- the flame retardant wood they sell in $3 bundles at the ranger station. We must have left an impression with those guys because while sitting in our smoke and eating our smoked hot-dogs on smoked buns, a blinding light (a head lamp) came and asked if we would like some wood that they were going to leave behind. A half a cord of SEASONED wood was to be found in their campsite the next morning. Chilly night with a little rain that got the bottom/sides of the tent wet because we didn't get the fly on till after dark so it didn't get staked out properly. My knee not bending enough made it difficult to deal with the tent and the firewood.

Thursday, 9/19/08
Got a leisurely start. I cleaned the stump well and retaped everything while in the tent. The small blister on the lower end of the stump appeared to be healing well. We packed up the camp and prepared to go to the next scheduled lean-to. We stopped at the Mass guys campsite and loaded up the—cord of SEASONED wood and drove to our next home. Lean-to 7. While we were unloading, the guy next door came over trying to unload a $3 bundle of flame-challenged wood. They were leaving and hadn't been able to burn it yet. I directed him down to John and Sheila's.

We headed out for the Katahdin Lake trail: 3.3 miles one way (close to 7 miles round trip with the lake loop). This trail seems to be more like the AT: rolling dirt trail with smaller stones and some rocks and roots and bog/board walks without major elevation change. Worked on some technique and balance with the board walking and kicking the leg out hard to get more toe clearance. The worst fall (of many while in Baxter State Park) was on a wide open trail while cruising along at close 3 mph. Stubbed the prosthetic toe on a small outcropping of rock, hammered the max knee bend hard stop on the way down, banged the prosthetic knee into the dirt and onto my hands. I still had enough strength in my arms (thank again "Overload") to stop the fall from burying my face in the dirt. I ended up with a fairly nasty deep tissue bruise on the front of my stump near the bottom almost in the same spot as the blister caused mainly by the knee flex hard stop. Oh and I got another blister from kicking out so hard-- it's higher up on the front of the thigh where the rim of the socket is.

Bridge wobbled, swayed and had big spaces between the log planks. Didn't like it.
m-i-l-e-s of bog logs. (Emily's balance drills payed off)

Breath taking views over the lake. Tilted fine gravel beech was tough going.

A little rest after a hard out-of-control involentary descent.

OK Noel. We've decided that it's too hard to keep talking so coldly about the prosthetic leg It's going to be around awhile and I/we think we need to name it... "Otto" is a possibility. Ruth likes "Bob".

When we got back to the car, we decided to go to the camp store outside the park and get some entertaining supplies and while there got to take a hot shower at a local camp ground. Got back to camp to find John and Sheila had left early-- possibly the idea of the chilling forecast urged them home. So we settled down to dinner and Tah Dah -- lumos!! No smoke, no hot-dogs, and hmmm what's that feeling..? Toasty warm !!!!! Thanks guys from Mass.! That night they say it may have been 27 degrees. Just a bit nippy but I was still comfortable. No bugs no mice... The stump felt tender most the night.

In the morning the brused stump didn't want anything to do the socket, so; we decided that hiking into the wilderness 6 miles to the next lean-to was not a good idea at this time. So instead of pop tarts for breakfast we packed up and headed to Millinocket for hot food...mmm mmm great home cooking and good company at the Appalachian Trail Cafe.

Sitting behind us was a young couple and their 2 year old from Mo. They too, had just come out from camping in the park. When leaving he stopped and said he couldn't help overhearing our conversation and wanted to say how awesome he thought I was doing. He is a physical therapist and can appreciate all the hard work involved.

So, a kind of mixed week in Maine: I didn't achieve all I wanted to, but I learned a lot-- I have to revise some assumptions (like the role the Mikie sticks will play when hiking uphill), retool some equipment, and get a lot more practice.

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sheila kirby wrote:


It was a real pleasure meeting you and Ruth up in Baxter. As you said, a magic moment--the campfire, the conversation, the closeness, the feeling of being with good friends.

You are an inspiration to us all. Keep trekking! I know we will see you again.

Take care of yourself.
-- 22 September 2008 08:23:47

noel wrote:

thanks for the update! i was starting to wonder...
hmmm, name for the leg.....that is going to have to be a personal decision i think...depending on what it means to you...for example if you were 'earl' from 'my name is earl' you'd be asking karma to help you look for a name for it (on the show, earl actually stole a prosthetic from a one legged woman, who keeps after him in many episodes, and gets the snot beat out of him by a double AKA who runs faster than him with those fast paddle type legs...you really need to catch up on some 'earl'!)
you could go with something obvious like 'lefty' or somethng robotic like 'bender' (robot from futurama) or a woman's name for irony (old matilda is acting up again!)
but since it's yours you should probably just name it 'mike'!
-- 23 September 2008 11:21:45

mike wrote:

Maybe I should just call it Karma. "Oximoron and his trusty leg Karma do the AT" Hmmm. That wouldn't be asking for trouble would it?
-- 24 September 2008 01:29:05

Al Liberi wrote:

Looks like you are making tremendous progress towards your goal - take it step by step and you will get there. The pictures look great. Will wait to hear from you.
-- 06 October 2008 11:27:10
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