"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

 "The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!" ~ Robert Burns

Yesterday was....well...."the best of times,...the worst of times", to quote Charles Dickens.

On Friday, it had dawned on me that we had not done any hiking since our trip to Hot Springs, NC, last October and I have been itching to hit the trails.  While I can't afford a weekend jaunt to North Carolina (or even to North Georgia, for that matter) there is a great place to hike within about 45 minutes from where I live south of Atlanta.

The Pine Mountain Trail, located within FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia, is 20 plus miles of well-maintained hiking trails with some great loop trails that a person can hike for a few hours.  Our plans are to eventually hike all the PMT and its loops.  So, on Friday, the urge to hike - anywhere, anyplace -  got to me and off to WallyWorld Ed and I went to buy items for our picnic lunch, Cliff bars, bugspray and sunscreen.  The plan was in motion and our daughter, Gabe, and her two of the Fab 5, Olivia and Carson, accepted our invitation to go with us.  Yippee....Hiking here we come!

Saturday dawned bright, beautiful and HOT!  We loaded the car, swung by and got the "kids" and off we went.  I was STOKED!  Our hiking plans were to start out on the Wolfden Loop of the PMT, a route that would take us by some small waterfalls, beaver dams, and yes, a wolfden location from long ago when there were actual wolves in Georgia.  We left it to be decided if we would go a couple of miles in on the trail and then backtrack for a 4 mile hike OR to do the whole loop trail for a total of 6.7 miles if we felt up to it.  Either way, this trail loop is considered moderate to difficult and we all agreed that we were up for the challenge.

We got to the parking lot at the northeast end of the PMT.  There were several cars already parked at the location, which has concrete picnic tables where we planned to eat our packed lunches.  Just as we were leaving the parking lot area,  a caravan of five cars pulled in.  The trail was going to be busy, it seemed, but afterall, this was Memorial Day weekend and families were out doing family things, just like us.  This group had babies, toddlers, kids, moms and dads and grandparents, too.  It was nice to see others taking advantage of this little jewel of a state park in the middle of Georgia.

So off we went.

Carson, having just turned 8 last week and a new member of the Boy Scouts, took off in the lead.

We walked and walked and walked, up hill, down hill, past the promised waterfalls, over creeks, though soggy areas and dusty, rocky stretches and through some very bad tornado damage, then up a particular long uphill section and we made it to our turning back point.  We had done 1.6 miles.  Now we had to decide whether to backtrack to the parking lot for a total of 3.2 miles or go the entire 6.7 miles for the whole Wolfden Loop trail. Remember that hiking in that environment is not like walking 3 or 6 miles.  It can be strenuous, challenging, can get your heart rate up there.  So we stopped to rest on the rock croppings at the top of that section of trail and assess how we were all feeling.  We all came to the conclusion pretty quickly that we wanted to continue on and complete the entire 6.7 miles.  Yay!  Let's do it!!!!

Feeling good, feeling challenged, feeling in control, feeling I was up to this! I was looking at this as a victory and I marvel that I can do this.  What a difference two years and a 100 pound weight loss can make!  I knew I would probably have some sore muscles in the morning, but sometimes soreness is good!  Yes, that's what I was thinking and feeling at the time, but there are times when our joy is complete and we are at our zenith that life has a way of handing us some reality.  And that is what happened to me.......

I tripped.  Yes, tripped......over a rock.  And fell.  Fell HARD.  Fell hitting my face unto the ground, eyeglasses striking another protruding rock in front of me. Those eyeglasses probably saved me from hitting my eye or brow on that rock.  Fell so hard, more to the left side, left arm trying to catch me, resulting in a huge gouge at the base of my palm.  The brain's recognition that one is falling is second only to the blinding pain as contact between body and ground is made.  In that instant I knew that I had done some serious damage to my mouth and I was expecting to come up spitting out teeth and bone sticking out from my left arm or wrist.  I am hurt and it's not going to be pretty......yes, that what I was thinking in that split second.

Gabriel, who was actually last in line, was the first to make it to me. Then Carson, and Ed and Olivia.  They helped me roll over onto my back and then sit up.  I was spitting blood, but no teeth.  Instead, there was a huge gash that I can feel with my tongue that runs from the corner of my mouth into the interior, where my upper tooth almost ripped through to the outside of my skin.  Yucky, I know, so forgive me.  Gabe got water, poured it into my mouth and I rinsed and rinsed with the cold liquid to try to get the bleeding to stop.  By then the wrist and arm were hurting - hurting badly.  But the good news was that I could move it, even though there was pain when I did, and I could move my fingers.  Ed dug into his hip pack for antiseptic wipes and band-aides to doctor my palm.  Quick-thinking Gabe retrieved some ice from one of the water bottles, wrapped into Ed's clean handkerchief and I pressed it onto the corner of my mouth, which was already swelling and showing signs of bruising.  My legs felt very shaky and I was wondering if I could even make it back to the parking lot.  We had probably walked an additional half mile, making it two miles back to the parking lot. But I had no choice.....it was no decision, really.  We certainly couldn't continue on for another four and a half miles; the best was to turn back and hike the two miles back making it a round trip of four miles. And I would do it without eyeglasses, considering that mine had a severely bent earpiece and one of the lens had fallen out and was badly scratched.

And so, off we went for our return trip, me with shaky legs and all.  It was hot, bloody hot.  There were times I wondered if I would make the next hill, the next slippery creek crossing.  But made it I did.  By that time, the others were starving, as was I, and I managed to get just a little cold watermelon into my mouth, but not much else.  We made the 45 minute drive back, dropped Gabe and the kids off at their house, and then we headed for Urgent Care.

To make a long story short, I stepped out of Urgent Care with a badly sprained arm (not broken, thank God!) and three stitches on the interior of my mouth.

Oh, and some bad bruises on my face and upper left thigh.

But the worst is the injury to my pride and knowing that I took a perfectly wonderful day of hiking and ruined it with my clumsiness, not to mention the remainder of my long weekend will now be spent nursing mouth, arm and elbow, unable to eat solid food, and my whole body feeling like I have been in an auto accident or slammed into a wall by some unseen force.

Such are the ways with "best laid plans."

But do you want to know the strangest thing?  Despite all the soreness and pain, I would rather have on my hiking boots and be back at Pine Mountain on the trail!  The personal challenge is ON - I'm going back in the very near future to knock out that 6.7 mile Wolfden Loop!  Once thrown, the best thing to do is to get back on the horse immediately and that's what I plan to do.  Conquer or die, which yesterday seemed like a distinct possibility in that split second before I hit the ground.  But I didn't.  So, much like General MacArthur, my message to the trail is: "I will return."

Before "The Great Fall" and I don't mean waterfall!


  1. Pam, so sorry to hear you were hurt doing what you SO love! Thank God that you weren't hurt worse. Your Guardian Angel was definitely with you! I haven't told you how proud I am of you for all your accomplishments!! I'm so proud of you! I know you'll find that wolf den!!
    Take care and praying for your full recovery..Love you! Susan

  2. Goodness what a day, sounds like you came out of it better than you expected and not as bad as it could have been....I'm guessing you will have a few aches and pains tomorrow! Mend quickly and get back out and conquer!


  3. OMG! You poor thing. I admire your tenacity.

  4. Pam...I hear ya! Pride gets the best of us when something like this happens! Thank God, nothing broken! Sometimes it hurts worse when nothing is broken! Just listen to your body and you will be back at it in no time flat!

    I'm still dealing with this broken ankle and you know me, I don't mind the doctor to well...and I hurt my other foot yesterday while working on my pond! Yikes...What is going on with us??? lol

    Take care...Love ya!

  5. That sounds like my infamous face plant! I hope you feel better soon. Welcome to my clutz world!