Thursday, February 11, 2016

Loosing One’s Self, Finding One’s Self

Photo: Amada Gonzalez Photography

Growing older is not a bad thing.  Gaining maturity is a wonderful thing.  Yesterday, another 72 year old woman and I hiked farther up a mountain than the rest of our parties could climb.  She was actually 3 months older than me, and quit a little sooner than I did.  Reflecting on this today made me want to forget about trying to complete the review of 2015 (which seems totally daunting to me) and write about the NOW of my life.  How could it be, that we, the old ladies, could climb higher and farther than people much younger?  I don’t know the answer… so I’m just sharing.

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After turning off Highway 95, south of Quartzsite, we looked for the Spiral Labarynth, and found it. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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I didn't know you were suppose to leave offerings in the center, there was a quarter, a dime, some rocks. We each left a rock. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

Bev:  The Spiral Labyrinth. We didn't have time to walk it, so we did a short cut across the center, left "gifts" and thanked Mother Nature! Those mountains to the back and right is where the Palm Canyon is.  Wow what a day! Found a spiral labyrinth and I went rock climbing up into an ancient palm tree canyon! I didn't go the entire way up, but waited back with another lady's (Arden) backpack and camera gear while her and Swankie Wheels went on up. But I was probably 3/4 of the way up. But then Arden came back but Swankie Wheels didn't, for quite awhile. Arden started getting really worried. And her husband who was down at the base of the canyon wanted to call for help. We also left another friend (Amada Gonzalez) who didn't want to climb up into the canyon, down at the base of the canyon and she was getting worried because Arden's husband was getting worried! But I kept trying to tell them that Swankie wanted to get to those trees and unless there was something to indicate she was hurt then there was no need to call anyone! But it was difficult communicating down into the canyon - it was a bunch of echoes! And Swankie wasn't answering. Well finally I left my backpack and climbed almost to the opening to the forest - but then I was able to have a conversation with Swankie and I knew all was well, I didn't go any further up. I did discover I pack way too heavy of a backpack, because once i dropped it I was able to get up those rocks much better. This was the most strenuous hike/Rock climbing that I have ever done for sure! There was a lot of difficult places to put your feet and it required a lot good hand holds and pulling yourself up. And despite that... I was left in the dust by two 72 year old women!! Haha! I am going to have pick my game up a little better! It was a beautiful day and a great adventure! My arms and legs hurt something awful! I am going to take drugs, walk the dogs, and go to bed!!

Amada:  What a great day today was. I got a chance to go hiking in Palm Canyon with two awesome women- Swankie Wheels and Bev Schindler Wooley. Our first stop was at the Spiral Labyrinth before we headed up into the canyon. That was amazing to see as well. The hike was only a half of a mile to where the sign point towards where the palms are growing on the side of the canyon. That was as far as I was physically able to make it. Bev and Swankie decided to go up towards those palm trees and that in itself was quite an adventure for them. I created some of the pictures in black and white and really liked how it turned out.

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Finally after about 1/2 mile hike, we came to this sign which points to the palm trees up that canyon. We had to go up behind that pointed rock above my head, to the right side of it.  Last year I went to the left side of it and could not get through. — with Amada Gonzalez, Charlene Beaty Swankie and Bev Schindler Wooley at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

Their website says this:  The Palm Canyon Trail is a moderately easy, half-mile trail that winds up toward the base of the canyon. This trail leads to a small sign on a slightly elevated area near the middle of the canyon. By looking upward in the narrow, north trending side canyon, you will see the palms clearly. For a short time, at mid-day, the trees are well lighted for pictures. Otherwise, the trees are shaded. Beyond the trail, there is the prospect of hiking further up into the canyon. This hike is much steeper and without a defined trail, but allows for up-close examination of the magnificent palms!

WARNING: Well, let me just say this…  “much steeper” is putting it mildly.  Unless you are an experienced mountaineer, I would not phrase it like that.  I would say, stop at the sign, the one at the top of this blog post, and stay there and take photos.  If you can’t chin yourself and pull your full body weight up with your arms alone, don’t try to get all the way up to the trees.  And if you are over 200 pounds, you might find the narrow places way too narrow to get through.

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Another 72 year old lady, Arden, joined me (3 months older than me) for the last stretch. She stopped at this point, without reaching the tree trunk, and went back down.  Here she is below, going down.  Photo by:  Bev Schindler Wooley.

I rested and continued up to the first palm tree. I could not see coming so far and working so hard to get up there and not getting to the trees. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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My backpack at the base of the lowest tree. There were spots going up, where I could not squeeze my body wearing the backpack and I had to take it off and toss it through the crack.  You can see my orange spot device, I tried to send a SPOT signal from here but could not catch a passing satelite, I was, however, able to send a phone text message from this very location. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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At the first tree, I took this selfie showing even more trees above me. I did not go any farther. People I left below were getting concerned about my safety and hollering up to me a lot, but it was too far to be able to understand them. I finally screamed "GOOD" as loudly as I could. And after a 10-min. rest, I began to go back down. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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Looking up from the lowest tree. In 1986, forty-two trees were counted in the main grove.  About half of those were adult size, a drunk of 20’ or more.  Some smaller trees are becoming established at the base of the larger trees.

From the brochure:  As the fronds (large leaves) on the California Fan Palm die, they fold downward around the trunk of the tree forming a petticoat.  The petticoat on the younger trees extends from the ground to the crest.  For some reason, the fronds of the older trees in Palm Canyon do not form a lengthy petticoat.  The fronds tend to self-prune; that is, fall to the ground beneath the tree where they decompose.  The decaying fronds from the growing bed for new trees. 

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My hand on the truck of the palm tree. Some people can't resist defacing nature. But I figure for anyone who doubts I did it, this would prove that Swankie was there (so was April I guess). — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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Looking straight up above my head. Some red flowers were blooming nearby and a Hummingbird buzzed me. It was very very hot there at the Palms, like an oven. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

Me coming back down from the palm trees, and meeting Bev.  She was concerned about me so climbed on up to meet me, pushing past her comfort zone.  I could not hear people and they could not hear me… so those below were concerned.  I was just fine.  It was very hard to get past those narrow spots.  Photo Credit: Amada Gonzalez Photography.

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I look tired.  I was tired.  This was taken on the way back down.  Last year this was as far as I got.  In the v-shaped notch behind my head and at the top of the photo, you can see the green of the palm trees.  That is about another 1/2 hour hike up… very up and very narrow.  Photo credit: Bev Schindler Wooley.

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Going down, I noticed these interesting formations off to the East. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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Bev Schindler Wooley got worried about me and came on up higher to check on me. I could not hear people from where I was.  If you look carefully about an inch in from the left edge of photo, a little above this rock in the center foreground, you can see Amada in an orange t-shirt. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

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This the the Kofa Mountain Barberry plant which we found near the upper end of the trail on the right side going up.  It is not very common on the refuge and is it only grows in the southwest corner of Arizona. — at Palm Canyon Kofa National Wildlife Reserve, AZ.

It was a really great day for me.  Thank you Bev and Amada for being part of it all.

Back in camp and after a very good nite’s sleep, I realized something strange was going on, in my Facebook world.  Suddenly all these men are hitting on me.  Something is off.  I don’t like it, want it, or need it.

The first clue to something being wrong, they didn't seem to know or care about my age and had no clue of my lifestyle. So they don't know about solar anything. Even after I tell them I am a fat 72 year old lady living in a van, they keep hitting on me.  I figure a lot of them are looking for a free meal ticket or a pass into America. Pretending to be an American soilder was the last straw for me today though, I'm not giving any of them the benefit of the doubt anymore. It's a waste of my time. If you can't talk kayaks or vandwelling or rocks, don't talk to me.  It is not flattering, just annoying.

I had to add this to my Facebook Intro:  Lately, I get friend requests from men.  I'll just say... I am NOT interested in a relationship.

I have found myself… that’s maturity, and that is enough.  It doesn’t get any better than that, until tomorrow.


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Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on https://www.facebook.com/swankie.wheels. In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.

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