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Camping with Chemo
Author: TriSec    Date: 11/12/2012 01:40:46

First and foremost.....I SURVIVED!

This trip had been bumped and rescheduled...we were supposed to go a week ago (on an off week for me), but it got changed at the last minute to a treatment week.

This was Javi's first real trip with the Troop - there was no way I was going to miss this.

So, like a good Scout Parent, after schlepping to the hospital to get rid of my pump Friday afternoon, I made sure I stayed active until the troop was ready to depart, in an effort to avoid my Friday pm crash. With the help of Five-Hour Energy, it worked!

We saddled up about 7:15 for the long drive to Adams, MA and Mt Greylock. Reaching park headquarters, we discovered the place bolted up tight and all the gates closed...so we drove around the western flank of the mountain to find another parking lot at the trailhead. This added another half-hour to the ordeal to come.

Reaching the trail, and the rest of our party, we loaded up packs and set off for the campsight. At 11:00 pm. This was billed as about a two-mile walk, easy in daylight and lightly-loaded, but since this was the first backpacking trip for all the boys, mistakes were made. As for me, I think I packed OK, but I could have left a few things behind....and then my tent weighed about as much as a Wile. E. Coyote anvil.

Nevertheless, with wind sucking hard, we ascended towards the group site. The trail became steeper and more treacherous, and then we started hitting blowdowns from Sandy. The first few were amusing, but there were at least 4 sequoias blown down across the trail that necessitated removing packs, scrambling through brush, or crawling under logs on all fours.

Somewhere along here...I completely bonked. I literally could not move another step, and went down hard on my left knee at least a half-dozen times. By then, the faster group had made the campsite, and they sent a leader back for relief. He took my pack, and I finally staggered into camp at about 3am. I toyed with sleeping under the stars, but eventually got my tent up and crawled in....at 3:57 am, having been awake for 22 1/2 hours while actively receiving chemotherapy.

Come morning, we didn't do too bad, and were up and eating breakfast by about 9am. I felt much better, but I was dismayed to learn the Scoutmaster wanted us to move. At 3am, we took the first flat spot we found at the campsite, but it turned out there was a much better location about 200 yards down the road. So it was pack up again, and move on. Although I only unpegged my tent and had some help to carry it down the road, and dropped it on a much better spot and pegged it down again.

By now it was noon, so we did an "alpine dash" for the summit. That's when you take only the barest essentials and go like hell until you make it. It was a fantastic day up there...dead calm, clear, and with near-unlimited visibility. We sat and watched the town of Adams for a while, and because it was a backpacking trip, we brought a stove and some dehydrated food and hat a hot lunch on the summit. I even managed to nap a bit, until some F-15s went screaming over the peak and woke me up.

Getting down was easy...I made Javi do the hard part and carry the day pack up, so I had the downhill leg. We made it back to camp pretty easily, and I finished settling in for another night. We did the usual Scout things, and while the other adults were cooking, I gathered wood and got a fire going with my trusty Armageddon. I honestly can't remember the last time I used a match to start a fire now....

With everyone utterly spent, it was an early night. The kids made about 8:30, and the adults were in not long after that. We all slept about 12 hours, and awoke to gusty winds and a smattering of raindrops...with the warm front going through.

Another easy breakfast, and then we spent the next two hours or so cleaning everything up, knocking down tents, and loading up our packs. We had talked to the ranger at the summit yesterday, and he gave us an alternate route back down without any blowdowns....but it was longer and had a decent uphill stretch until we crested a ridge and dropped down towards the parking lot.

I set out OK, and even made the overlook (which was spectacular - a clear shot a mile and a half across the valley back to the summit.) But the way down turned out be more than I bargained for. It was very steep, with a ton of switchbacks. My legs might have been lead going in, but they turned to rubber coming out. Near the bottom, I was stopping at nearly every stump to rest my pack...until that last log when I bonked again and lost an argument with gravity. At least it was comical; I sat down and went right over onto my pack like a turtle. Then I couldn't get my stupid hip strap off.

But, after I fought with it a minute, I was able to disconnect everything and finally get up. And right around the next corner was the parking lot!


I honestly don't know how I did this....fight, cussedness, and maybe a wee little bit of help from Allah. (Oh yes, I called on him numerous times - Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, too. At least I'm equal-opportunity.)

We got everybody in the cars, and headed for home. Finally getting back to town about 4pm....the parents were all waiting and we had the boys scattered in about 10 minutes.

Home, shower, supper, and bed at last!

Here's the summit overlooking Adams...I'm on the far left, Javi in the green jacket second from right.


82 comments (Latest Comment: 11/13/2012 05:11:41 by clintster)
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