Feuchtblog

You did what????

Our home in North Las Vegas
The view of Gass Peak from our front yard (looking North)

Some people are a touch agast when informed that we just moved to “Sin City”. Actually, we don’t live in Sin City (Las Vegas), but in the town of North Las Vegas, and are about 1/2 hour drive from the Strip. People outside of the Strip almost never visit the Strip except when entertaining friends and family. We have now lived in North Las Vegas for slightly more than a month. If you would have asked me a year ago about moving to southern Nevada, I would have responded with an “absolutely not” answer, that is, until Betsy and I took the time to check it out. We are totally loving our new abode, and couldn’t be more content with our decision. Yet, an answer is in order as to why we changed our mind about our decision to move.

A year ago, we were still living in Puyallup, WA, but noted that the town was being very poorly managed. Traffic was becoming unbearable, taxes were out of control, and der Führer of Washington, Jay Inslee, felt quite comfortable with oppressive declarations that defied the US constitution. I loved living in the shadow of Mt. Rainier and loved the beauty of the woods. Still, the weather restrained outdoor activity, and 8 months of the year, trails in western Washington demanded either long hikes through snow, or else slogging through endless mud puddles and swampland. Roughly about last May, we received notice that my brother Gaylon from Portland, OR was moving to Ocala, FL, and soon afterward my brother Lewis (also from the Portland area) decided the same thing. We realized that a move was in order for us also. Much of my hiking in 2021 was placed on hold as we quickly decided to put our house up for sale and get out of Dodge. Our house was able to sell quickly. In the meantime, we (Betsy and I) sought desperately an alternative location to live. We considered Idaho, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and even out of the country (like Belize) as well as Nevada. The decision was to first live in an apartment and then gauge from there as to a more permanent location. We did a trip to Las Vegas and nearly signed on an apartment when I decided that perhaps a temporary move to the Spokane area might be a wiser decision.

We lived in Spokane Valley, WA for six months with mixed feelings. There were lots of outdoor activities, yet the fall and winter proved to be quite cold. I got in some snowshoeing but found that the trails were even muddier than in western Washington and less conducive to vigorous activity. Betsy found Spokane more akin to living in a refrigerator. I was VERY uncomfortable with the two churches we attended in Spokane. Thus, the thought of moving across the border into the Coeur d’Alene area was immediately stricken. We saw several options still persisting. Boise, Idaho? I would have loved Boise, yet it was colder in winter than Spokane, and hotter in summer. We wished for easy access to our grandchildren, some living in western Washington, and some in northwest Iowa, which was not convenient from Boise. Iowa? Iowa was VERY tax unfriendly to retirees, and bitterly cold in winter, with summers that were hot and humid. Perhaps Sioux Falls would be a good choice, though the weather issue remained. What about Florida? Florida was miserably flat, and though the weather is warm, it is also quite humid, and I tolerate humidity very poorly. We lived in the south (Biloxi, MS) for two years, and somehow did not find it as appealing as many others did. Arizona? Arizona is not terribly tax-friendly and is much more expensive to live in than many other places. So, that was out. Our thoughts returned to the Las Vegas area.

Originally, I didn’t want to live in a 55+ community, feeling that it would be desirable to have mixed ages. What we learned in the apartment in Spokane is that a broad community can be quite noisy, and crime is also much higher. Thus, we both felt comfortable with the possibility of a retirement community in Las Vegas. On another trip down to Las Vegas and a tour of several 55+ communities, we fell in love with a home in North Las Vegas in Sun City Aliante. It was not a gated community, yet the crime rate was very low, the HOA fees were very low, and housing prices were not astronomical. The 55+ community was not so isolated to leave one feeling that you had no one but old fogeys around you. It was close to outdoor activities, and we could move in within a month. Betsy and I both agreed without hesitation to make the move.

We were able to terminate our lease in Spokane Valley early without too great of an expense, realizing that in the long run, we would be saving a large amount of money by doing so. We had Gaylon fly up from Florida, and he drove a 26′ UHaul truck from Spokane Valley to Las Vegas. The route was simple with only one turn, driving east on I-90 to I-15 and then south to North Las Vegas. Gaylon was a real trooper for which we are deeply grateful. There was minimal furniture damage in the process, and we were able to arrive home in NLV completely intact. The back porch of our home overlooks the golf course, which is actually owned by the city, and thus of no cost to us. Here is our floor plan…

Our home actually has the optional casita, which is a perfect guest house. This means that if you come to visit us, you have your own little “hotel” room, with a kitchenette, bathroom, and entertainment tv screen (which was there when we arrived). The garage is the only issue to me, in that it is a little small, yet ingenuity is allowing us to make-do quite nicely.

We had to quickly make some house modifications. There were tv mounts in almost every room, none of which were usable. We took one down, changed several others, and thus left a tv in the living room, in Betsy’s den, and in the casita. We pulled up the rugs in the master bedroom and master closet as well as the second bedroom (my office) and put in vinyl planking. The house is 17-18 years old with minimal improvements. It was originally owned by the madam that ran the brothel in XXX, NV, and she didn’t seem to do much to the infrastructure of the house. We will be replacing the air conditioning/heating unit, installing solar panels, and eventually putting in a garage floor surface, and possibly pavers for the driveway and patio between the house and casita, as well as extending the back patio. All in all, it has been a joy to be able to make a home again that has a personal touch, while simultaneously improving the home value.

Public transportation will take us down to the Strip or to the airport/bus station allowing us to easily get to either Iowa or the Northwest or to Florida, or anywhere else in the USA. Las Vegas tends to be very accessible by the airline! We are 45 minutes away from snow (present 8 months of the year) on Mt. Charleston (elevation 11,900+ ft), 30 minutes from Red Rock Canyon, 1 hour from the Valley of Fire, 2.5 hours from the Grand Canyon, 4 hours from Phoenix, AZ or San Diego, CA, and 3-6 hours drive from the Utah National Parks. Thus, we remain close to outdoor activities. Hopefully, I can get Betsy back into camping!!!!!

Those who know us well also know that we consider church to be of great value. We had our hopes on one church about 20 minutes distant, only to learn that they were turning more radical and of a theological flavor that we had learned to dislike. It is a church that would have worked if there was nothing else. Contrary to what seems intuitive, there are a number of orthodox, Reformed churches in the Las Vegas area, and we were able to find one a bit closer to home. The pastor is blind but has a real heart for God. They are Baptistic in their orientation, but we can live with that, should that be their only theological fault. Almost by accident, we discovered that one of the deacons of that church is also one of Betsy’s cousins! It’s a small world. It will probably be the church that we stay at. Las Vegas is a veritable mission field; one need not go overseas.

Summer tends to be hot. We know that, but it is less hot than Phoenix, AZ where Betsy grew up. This summer, I plan on completing more of the PCT. Betsy plans on visits to the grandchildren. Even in the heat of summer, mornings and evenings can be quite comfortable since the humidity is very low. There are very few bugs, so we don’t need screened-in areas in order to sit outside. I sit outside now almost daily and read. We just purchased a small Recteq barbecue (Lew’s recommendation), and hope to be making animal sacrifices quite soon on the bbq.

You are welcome to come to visit. Our casita (guest house) is begging for visitors, especially children, grandchildren, and siblings. Summer is not the most advisable time of the year to visit, and chances are high that we will be gone at least part of the summer. Neither Betsy nor I have a burning interest in acting as Strip tour guides; if you wish to visit the Strip, you are on your own. As we have learned, there is so much more to Las Vegas than the Strip. Please notify us in advance. You do not need a personal invitation from us, and we will let you know if the timing would work out for us.

Going through the Desert…

The Red Rock Canyon Grand Circle Loop, hiked on 16APR2022

I am now starting to do longer hikes in preparation for the summer hiking season. Today, I decided to hike the Grand Circle Loop, which encompasses all that would be seen should one choose to drive the Red Rock Canyon loop, yet there is much more that can be seen.

It was a beautiful day but very windy, with gusts up to 60 mph. The wind was a blessing, as it kept me feeling quite cool. The route was mostly very well marked, though there were just a few areas in the Calico Hills where I had to retrace a bit to find where I was going. Here are some photos…

Calico Hills 1
Calico Hills 2. I waited forever for those dudes to move, and then finally just snapped a shot and ran.
More Calico Hills
Getting to the Quarry (white rocks ahead)
The view back to the Quarry and Turtlehead Peak
White Mountain Loop area
Desert Beauty
Panorama shot of the Red Rock Canyon. The visitors center (where I started and ended) is off in the
central distance, close to the Calico Hills.

This was a most enjoyable hike, and I will definitely do it again, probably in conjunction with the White Mountain loop to add on a few more miles. Desert hiking can be quite cool, but hydration is most vital, and shielding oneself from the full brunt of the sun, using a broad-rimmed hat and long sleeve shirt with full length pants. It seems like it would be hotter being fully clothed, but it is just the opposite, so long as you are not wearing cotton.

Close by (within 10 miles) is Charleston Peak, at an elevation of over 11,900 feet, and still with snow on it. I will probably soon start attacking that peak. There I will encounter less of a desert environment and more of a bristlecone pine forest terrain. If I can talk my hiking friends to come visit, a chance to do the Grand Canyon will be in order, which is only a few hours drive from us.

More adventures of Mountain Guide Ken in the Snow

27JAN2022 Dishman Hills Iller Creek Loop, 5.5 miles, 2:30 time, 1368 ft elevation gain. I did the hike to the Rocks of Sharon last week but was unable to go any further because of dense cloud cover. Thus, I decided to return on a day with less cloud cover. This time, I was able to actually see the Rocks of Sharon as well as the Spokane Valley and Mt. Spokane, and then to identify a parallel trail that ran down along Iller Creek which took me back to the car, making the entire trek a loop. The day was beautiful and I could see in the far distance. I obtained just a few photos of the Rocks as well as the trail back.

The Rocks of Sharon. On the left is the Palouse.
Another view of the Rocks of Sharon.
A winter wonderland for the trail back.
I was able to use my Microspikes for the whole loop. I used these Microspikes for my journey on the PCT. They are a little more durable than the Exospikes for ice and snow, and I was able to maintain a faster pace throughout the hike, maintaining full confidence in my stability with the earth.

01FEB2022 – Mt. Spokane State Park Snowshoe trails; 6.3 miles, 3:13 timing, 1,263 ft elevation gain. This was another beautiful day though it was cloudy in the Spokane Valley. I was a touch apprehensive with this new area, but it quickly proved to be a favorite of mine. I wondered what took me so long to discover the snowshoe paths of Mt. Spokane, save that I mistakenly thought that it was going to be a repeat of the snow conditions in the hills around Spokane Valley. It wasn’t. The snow was powder, there was little ice, and snowshoes were the perfect travel modality for these conditions. The trails were quite well defined. After parking in the snow park lot at the Kit Carson trailhead, I headed out. The trail was at first a snow-covered road. Following my nose, I eventually reached Smith Gap. There was an outhouse here, but there was also supposed to be a warming hut, which I didn’t notice. The trails went in three directions, but I chose a single file path upwards, with an arrow indicating that Mt. Carson would be ahead. After many curves and much climbing, I reached Saddle junction, where the road permitted snowmobiles. Throughout the trip up, beautiful glimpses of Mt. Spokane were noted but did not afford a photographic moment. A short side trail to the summit of Mt. Kit Carson was not yet broken in, so I decided against that route but did locate yet another alternate route back to the trailhead. This again went smoothly, save for the terror of having to cross a narrow log across a creek (see photo below). I reached the car feeling awesome and regretting that I had to depart. There were tears in my eyes all the way back home when I contemplated how much I loved the mountains, winter and summer.

Well-groomed road that started my journey
Single track trail up through the trees. It was impossible to tell that in summer this is a mountain bike trail.
Approaching the summit of Mt. Kit Carson
Narrow log bridge to cross, not so easy to do in snowshoes.

I’m already studying the maps, looking for more opportunities to return to this area. I see more trails, more adventures, and more discoveries awaiting.

Abenteuern des Bergführer Ken im Schnee

Adventures of Ken the Mountain Guide in the Snow… I did three short hikes recently…

10JAN2022: Antoine Peak, 3.72 miles, 2:09 minutes time, 840 ft elevation gain. This was my first adventure since childhood on snowshoes. It was a sunny day, and most of the time, I really didn’t need the snowshoes. If I got off the beaten path, then the snowshoes were very nice to have. There were only a few other people out that day.

Toward the top of Antoine Peak
My snowshoes. These worked out very well, and far more comfortable than the older long wooden snowshoes that I’ve used in the past
One of the communication towers on top of Antoine Peak

21JAN2022: Mica Peak Trail, 4.63 miles, 2:05 minutes, 856 ft elevation gain. This day was partially sunny, and I used Kahtoola Exospikes on my hiking boots to survive the snow. I had tried to venture down a little-used trail near the summit of my hike, and was post-holing too much to continue for long and so turned back. On the lower elevations, it was nothing but mud or hard ice. The Kahtoolas worked great. Visibility was good. Next time, I’ll need to figure out a way to carry the snowshoes so that I might be more of an adventurer. I never encountered another soul on the trail.

These are what the Kahtoola Exospikes look like. They bind onto your shoe bottoms and provide a surface as though your shoes were studded tires.
Mud and ice predominated the trail, which was an off-road vehicle road converted to hiking purposes
Higher up, the snow was more consistent. You can see the summit of Mica Peak in the distance

24JAN2022; 5.08 miles, 2:15 minutes, 1270 ft elevation gain. Today was completely overcast, and I ended up in the clouds the further in I went. I also used the Kahtoola Exospikes, though on this adventure Microspikes would probably have been a better choice, as the trail was either hard ice or hardpack snow for the entire distance. It was also well below freezing temperature for the entire hike. With the clouds surrounding me and snow covering all the trees and ground, there was an ethereal sense of beauty. I wasn’t sure how far I would make and was surprised to have made it to the Rocks of Sharon. I would have done a loop but didn’t feel that the other trails were open. I encountered only one person and his dog on the trail.

The Dishman Hills consists of three areas, and this is the largest, the Iller Creek area, all of which can easily be seen from either Spokane or Spokane Valley
A very icy start to the trail was noted. Ice and snow continued all of the way in.
The entire trail was surrounded with beauty
The Rocks of Sharon could not be well seen because of the cloud cover
Another view in the area of the Rocks of Sharon

With all of this snow, you’d wonder where global warming disappeared to. Greta doesn’t want you to think about this!!!!

Regardless of what Greta thinks, I will be doing a few more snow adventures, including heading up Mt. Spokane on snowshoes. I need to take advantage of the closeness to snow in this area, and play as much as possible.

Good News

(22JAN2022) Today I was able to locate (on the Internet) the text to my former Blog page. I will now be slowly moving everything over. It may take a month or two. The photos will need to be located elsewhere (if that is even possible), and then I will need to paste them into their proper place and correct the obvious grammar problems. Until then, older posts will be limited to text. I had two hidden posts which I doubt that I will ever be able to recover.

(24JAN2022) I have completed the transfer of whatever blog files were available. I am missing
a) Blog entries between November 2019 and August 2021. These would have included trip reports and book reviews, and perhaps some Feuchtblog commentary
b) For about 8 to 10 months there were at least 10 entries for the month. When the entries exceeded 10 for the month, the additional entries would have been lost.
c) All of the photos were lost. I may be able to locate them on my computer, but that is going to take a bit of work, and then even more work if I find them to incorporate the photos into the blog entries.

I realized that the blog entries from the earliest years (2007-mid-2009) were created on the Apple website called iWeb. I really liked the site and was a bit upset when they informed us to export our data since they were closing down that service. I’m not sure that that was the brightest idea for Apple. The data was then transferred to Andrew’s web server (a proprietary service) where it stayed for many years. After that, I decided to do my own hosting (from approximately 2017) on my Synology server. When we moved last year, the Synology server data was mysteriously lost, even though I was certain that everything was well backed up. That is why I returned to a remote server hosted by SiteGround. Only last week did I find the majority of my content on the Wayback Machine server and was able to glean most of the text. I need to now decide whether I should go with a VPN service. Comments will be appreciated. My brother Dennis (who, like Mr. Peabody [Mr. Know-it-All] from Rocky and Bullwinkle) suggested that it would not be necessary. Dennis usually is right, but not always right.

I ran grammar checks on most of my entries from 2007 to 2017 and was quite interested in the repetitive mistakes that I would make. Most often were the excess commas between phrases. I tend to punctuate in the manner in which I would speak. There were a few words repeatedly misspelled (emporer should be emperor!) and (loose/lose) were the worst. My choice of prepositions was occasionally frowned on by the grammar checker. Often, the identification of the sentence subject was complex, leading to confusion as to the pleural nature of the verb.

I was amused by my blogging habits. Before the year 2013, I heavily blogged, and frequently had greater than 5 entries per month. Slowly, it died down. At about 2017, it began to pick up again. Few other people that I know maintain an active blog page. I dislike that. They post on Facebook or other social media sites, and I find that totally disgusting. With me nearly completely separating from Facebook, I will probably increase my blogging entries once again.

What’s Wrong With Medicine

Welcome to the year 2022! I initially wished to summarize the year 2021, but then realized that my post “The Move” essentially accomplishes that. Today I encountered a very well-written critique of health care in the year 2021 by Paracelsus, which can be found here. My only criticism of this article is that it doesn’t go far enough. So, my blog site allows me to add all that I wish as I will now do. I strongly encourage you to first read the article by Paracelsus before reading this blog page. I noted a number of areas of concern that were not mentioned in the linked article, though I’m sure you all might add many more.

  1. Loss of ethics
    I have written frequently about my concern that health care has totally lost its ethic, and I will not repeat what I have previously written. On the Feuchtblog.net site, one will find articles that I have written regarding physician assisted suicide and the abandonment of the Hippocratic Oath. Indeed, when I ask physicians as to what the Hippocratic Oath really means, I get nothing but jibberish. They don’t have a clue. Medical ethics has morphed into a creature from the Black Lagoon, something that destroys the meaning of medical ethics. If ethics means nothing more than a common consensus (and not transcendent law), then we are all doomed.
  2. The purpose for hospitals
    The the 4th century, the Cappadocian fathers in central Turkey noted that the tradition in Roman culture was to put the sick and hopelessly infirm out into the woods to die, probably by being eaten by the wolves. They decided that a Christian solution was to reincoporate these people into society, and they provided the outcast what little healthcare there was, nurture, and community. Many of these folk died, but many survived. This was the start of hospital, springing out of monasteries, and providing to the sick perhaps nothing more than community and comfort in death’s hour. We’ve since removed hospitals from the monastery, and we’ve also removed the main objectives or purpose of the hospital from the hospital. Hospitals are now places where the sick go because they are a trouble to their family, where families are often forbidden to see their dying loved ones, where abandonment of the patient to a large impersonal system occurs.
  3. Advertising in medicine-the commercialization of medicine
    Historically, it was considered unethical for a physician or a hospital to advertise. The American Medical Association stood strongly in opposition to physician advertising, that is, until the Supreme Court (sic!) in the 1970’s declared that the AMA was forbidden to forbid physician advertising. This opened up a can of worms. Physicians took to the airwaves and print. Hospitals everywhere, regardless of how incompetent they were, boasted of providing the best healthcare in the state, and drug companies promoted their latest elixers with elderly folk dancing across the boob tube, offering genuine lies regarding the miracles their latest, greatest, but unaffordable new potion. Medicine turned into a commercial industry, and agencies all the way up to the NIH lost their health care focus, and turned instead to profits as the highest good.
  4. Research-blinded trust in science
    During my research years, Dr. DasGupta and Dr. Carl Cohen reminded me incessantly of the need for integrity in research. It indeed was a serious problem in the biological sciences world, the problem of fraud in research often being discussed by Nature or Science as critical issues, involving a large percentage of published papers. Since the 1980’s when I did my research, I can be reassurred that research fraud is more, and not less prominent. Publish or perish is a theme that has intensified in the academic and research world. Yet, we are asked to blindly “trust” science. Is fraudulence in research the reason why standard-of-care recommendations are so frequently changing? Is it why so often public experience doesn’t match the promises of treatment? Is it why prevailing paradigms are so hard to break, even when the paradigms don’t seem to fit reality, and that evidence contrary to the paradigms are soundly rejected simply because it offends the current paradigms?
  5. The curse of statistics
    In the same vein as #4, statistics can be used even in valid research to support an illigitimate claim. I have seen it in cancer care, where a new, expensive but marginally better therapeutic drug (and often with significantly higher toxicity) becomes the standard of care norm. How do they do that? It’s all about how one does statistics, and (as the Paracelsus article above mentions), failure to present data focused on the individual survival benefit mislead the patient to the therapeutic benefits. If Big Pharma were forced to provide data which detailed the number of people required to treat in order to accomplish one favorable outcome, most drugs would go off the market as they would be rejected by patients as worthless. Big Pharma most often looks at surrogate outcomes, which are illegitimate in my book. As an example, statin drugs may lower cholesterol (surrogate effect) yet have minimal to no effect on actual deaths from hypercholesterolemia. True story. As an aside, in medical school, I had a community mentor (physician) who would be presented patients with unsolveable symptoms. His first action would be to stop all the medications that the patient was on. The physician noted that most patients would then proceed to get better. Statistics be damned; physicians are often making patients sicker.
  6. The Flexner Report as a failure
    I am not promoting the Flexner report, as much evidence exists that it was an entire fraud. The Flexner report was produced early in the 20th century with the prolific rise of of medical schools in this country with widely divergent standards of training. The report was correct that many physicians lacked proper training and were devoid of any standard evidence of competence. The Flexner report attempted to provide some means of setting a standard of competence among physicians. I don’t have a complaint about that. My complaint is that our society has essentially trashed the impact of the Flexner report. We no longer require competence among many, and we have abandoned the used of the word “physician” and replaced it with “health care provider”. Nurse practitioners can now play doctor, and though they carry the word “doctor” after their name, it is from a mostly bogus “PhD” that they obtain by doing research substandard by any other standard, though legitimized by the nurse practitioner schools that now exist everywhere. Now, there are physician assistants which abound but who have very marginal training, yet serve the function of a physician in many settings. These extenders are offered standard of care flow charts that define their therapeutic agenda. Health care providers no longer think. Thinking, and personalized care has been thrown out the window.
  7. Insurance debacle
    The insurance industry has a speckled history, starting as a means of providing for the most extreme emergencies in health care. After the insurance industry became self-focused, various physicians joined together to create the “Blues” system (Blue Cross and Blue Shield) to provide a more equitable system for the physician and the patient. Ultimately, what started as a protection against emergencies became the primary means of paying for health care. Costs meanwhile skyrocketed. In the 1950’s, the cost of a night in a hospital bed was commensurate with the cost of staying in a nice hotel room. Now, the cost of a night in the hospital would purchase an insanely luxurious and expensive hotel suite accompanied by servants and abundant frills. A week in the hospital without extraordinary care now will cost the price of an expensive Ferrari or a small home. Without the insurance industry operating as a giant Ponzi scheme, it is inconceivable that anybody could afford health care. I find it especially laughable when some argue about the importance of a free-market system. The free-market system was lost long ago to anybody but the most slickster physicians and a few of the independent family practice doctors. It is likely that independent (not-employed) physicians will soon become as plentiful roaming the earth as the Tyrannasaurus Rex. I realized when I first started a surgery practice that it was a joke establishing a fee for a service that I provided. I was told what I would be paid by the feds and by the insurance companies, who based their reimbursement in proportion to what Medicare paid. Private practice is nearly dead and in 10-20 years will be a historical novelty. The significance of this is that instead of receiving health care from a person, your health care is rendered by a corporation—a big, non-caring corporation whose corporate survival is more important than your survival.
  8. Quacks
    Alternative health care has become a public reaction to the absence of trust in the health care community. During my tenure in a surgery practice, I have occasionally referred patients to chiropractors, and certainly feel that they are an important aspect of the health care community. These practitioners argue that they are scientifically based and are able to provide research papers justifying their practices, yet unbiased review by critical analysis shows weaknesses in the data that cannot be ignored. Because insurors will cover many alternative health costs, the pie of the health care dollar going to conventional medicine is greatly reduced. This might not be all bad, since conventional medicine has departed from its original objectives. Alternative care, regardless of the science, provides solutions that conventional medicine are unwilling or forbidden to explore, and is most fitting for certain types of diseases or as wonderful adjuncts for other diseases best treated in the conventional setting, such as cancer. Even still, alternative care has served as a confounding factor in rendering of health care, and mostly acts as a gadfly to conventional medicine in identifying how they have been deficient in providing true health care to their patients.
  9. Legal issues
    The claim of the legal community is that lawyers are important in preserving the quality of health care. I would argue that the current malpractice environment massive drives up the cost of health care, while simultaneously driving down the quality of health care. This is a long discussion that I’ve discussed in detail in the past, though lost to the graveyard of digital ones and zeros. Suffice it to say that a true market system of health care would provide a much greater impetus for quality health care than the negative threat of a lawsuit.

I am most glad to be out of medicine, which now uses the euphemistic title “health care”. My arguments and those of Paracelsus indicate the loss of the system that once provided real (though sometimes ineffective) care of a patient. I would far rather die in the personal domain of a family, or on a mountain top, than to die in the sterility of a hospital with masked and gowned, over-worked and (often) under-caring physicians and nurses who provide for formulaic treatments of the signs and symptoms that my body happens to be expressing at the moment. Such repulsion of the health care system causes me to seek health care as minimally as possible, and to be as terse as possible when in the health care domain. As Paracelsus noted, the current COVID “crisis” serves to make clear how healthcare has degenerated into the impersonal beast, a henchman of the state, that does not serve the patient’s best interest. Though we can’t live without the healthcare community, it is becoming harder and harder to live with the health care community.

The Move

By now, most of our friends are aware that Betsy and I have moved to Spokane Valley from our home in Puyallup, WA. We are frequently asked as to why we moved, and as to why we chose to move to Spokane Valley. The easiest way to explain the situation is to run through the history of the move, beginning in early June.

June of 2021 brought some interesting challenges to Betsy and me. I had determined to take off for 4-6 more weeks to get in more miles of the PCT. I was going to resume the hike from two years ago at Walker Pass, and seek to get as many miles as possible for me. The challenges were mounting, as the temperature throughout the west coast was much higher than normal and water was going to be an ever-present concern, especially for the first 40 miles, before I reached the high Sierra. So, with great enthusiasm, I hopped on the Amtrak train and headed out to Bakersfield. When the train reached Klamath Falls, the conductor announced that a fire in northern California had engulfed the tracks and burned out a trestle, so we had to turn back. Talk about popping a balloon! Months of training and no way to reasonably get to the trailhead in the time that my permit allowed. So, I did a short backpack with Sam Flanagan, and sulked. I made a number of suggestions for adventures with Betsy (my best friend… also my wife) but received the same answer back every time. “If we leave now the flowers will die, the garden will die, the grass will die”. “We can’t leave our home!”. Mein Gott!!!!!! Betsy and I both realized that we were prisoners of our home. As our frustration fulminated, we slowly began to think of an idea that had been mulling for about a year now that we were retired. Why don’t we move?

Move? To where? And under what conditions? Clearly, we needed a set of criteria for deciding the conditions under which we would move. It was at this time that Betsy and I learned that our kid brother Gaylon was going to move to Ocala, Florida. Soon after that, my (nearly twin) brother Lew announced that he was flying with his wife Carol to Ocala to possibly lay money down on a new home in the 55+ community called On Top of the World (OTOW). That sounded exciting but Betsy and I weren’t really sure that it would be our style. We lived for two years in Biloxi, MS, and had been to Florida a few times, so weren’t quite as snared by the enchantments of Florida.

Meanwhile, we met with a realtor that we had known from church for 5-10 years, and she felt that we could get good value for our home, but that we needed to reduce the clutter before it would be most marketable. For me, this meant boxing up much of our stuff and getting rid of bad furniture and stuff that was really nothing but junk. Multiple trips to the junkyard were experienced. The stuff of ours that we knew we needed to liquidate but was of high value were distributed among our children in the Washington State area. In the meantime, our refrigerator died, and our microwave went on the blink. We had already ordered nice replacements before we anticipated selling our house. As the time came nearer to having the house on the market, there became a problem of fitting the new microwave into the existing space of the old microwave. We purchased the appliances from Wiers (an awesome company), but the installer, young and enthusiastic but inexperienced dude did a horrid job on the installation. In a last-ditch frantic move, Weirs sent out an experienced installer and with some makeshift solutions, ended up with an attractive installation. We needed our shower glass replaced, and the upstairs bedroom rugs replaced. The bedroom rugs ultimately ended up being replaced after the fact. Meanwhile, we spent the full month of July and half of August doing nothing but packing, working on the house, and preparing the house for a sale.

But, where were we going to move? Options abounded. Should we stay in Puyallup? Should we move to Ocala? Belize? We seriously considered many options. The first option that seemed reasonable was to move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, close to Rachel. Rachel naturally wanted us to move across the street from her in a retirement facility. For various reasons, this did not click with us. We looked intensely at which states are good states to retire in, and the list was somewhat short, the ones for us being South Dakota, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Idaho. Washington actually is NOT a bad state to retire in. They do not have inheritance and other death taxes. Iowa actually was quite low on the list of states that were favorable retirement states. We looked for 55+ communities in South Dakota, of which there were none. We looked for both houses and apartments, as well as what the Sioux Falls community would be like. We were ever so close to purchasing plane tickets to Sioux Falls when the words of my father became loud and clear to me. Our family moved from the midwest to California in 1962 because dad was totally sick of the winters. He had to get out of the midwest. Then, I looked at what old folk in Iowa and South Dakota do in winter. They sunbird to Texas or Florida. I had NO interest in sunbird-ing. So, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota option died quickly. Florida came up next. We examined both retirement communities as well as houses/apartments outside of the 55+ environment. I concluded that Lakeland, Florida would probably be my first choice. There were no choice retirement communities in that area, but there were nice apartments to accommodate us. It was at this point that I realized that the highest elevation in Florida was about 345 feet above sea level, but most of southern Florida barely achieves 50 feet elevation. There were no mountains in Florida. There were not even any hills. Florida was flat and I needed mountains. It just wasn’t the right fit for us.

Texas became a consideration. At this time, we were still thinking of 55+ communities. San Antonio and Austin had some nice options, but something wasn’t clicking with us. We looked hard at Arizona, both in the Prescott area as well as in the greater Phoenix/Maricopa County area. Slowly, the idea of living in a 55+ community with nothing but a bunch of old farts just didn’t appeal to me. We couldn’t do it. But, we realized that Las Vegas had many 55+ community options as well as apartments. Las Vegas seemed like a hyper-sleazy town, but we broke down and went to visit it. This was at the same time as our house was going on the market, so when we returned, we would learn as to whether the house sold or not. Betsy and I were both pleasantly pleased with Las Vegas. Outside of the strip and North Las Vegas, it had a nice feel similar to that of Phoenix or Scottsdale. There were mountains which were beautiful. Nevada was an inexpensive, low-tax state. It all seemed like the right choice, and we located several apartments that we thought would be perfect for us. But, the last day, after we had viewed several apartments, we took a drive out to Hoover dam. It was an impressive facility, but we noted that the level of water in Lake Mead was half of what it should be. The southwest was running out of water! We still had a level of unease about the whole prospect of moving to Las Vegas, though we both were thoroughly impressed with the area and the possible accommodations. Our two conclusions in Las Vegas were that we truly did NOT want to live in a 55+ community and that we really weren’t ready to immediately purchase another home. As the trauma of selling a home became more intense, it only strengthened our resolve to stay in an apartment for a while until we could see more clearly what we should do.

Behind Hoover Dam on half-empty with my lovely lady

On the plane flight back from Las Vegas, we discussed the possibility of putting down the money for the apartment we liked most in Las Vegas, but I then suggested that perhaps we should check out Spokane. As an aside, two other areas were under consideration. The first was various places in Idaho, but those thoughts were squelched by several issues: 1. Betsy did not wish to live in a remote location, 2. Housing prices were insane, especially in Northern Idaho, which was being bought up by Cafilornians. 3. The Boise area had low appeal to both Betsy and me. The other area under consideration for me was the Reno, Nevada area. I would have loved this area, but Betsy did not agree with my assessment, so Reno was tabled.

Two other issues were of concern for Betsy and me. The first is that we were concerned about finding a good church where we moved. Hopefully, this church would be a church of the Reformed persuasion. There was a PCA church in Las Vegas that Betsy and I attended for the Sunday we were there, but we really didn’t care for it. There was something just not right about it. We knew that there was a CREC church in Spokane, though we weren’t sure whether the Doug Wilson influence would so heavily prevail over the church as to make it an uncomfortable situation for us. I love the fact that Doug Wilson has held his ground against liberalism. I detest that Doug Wilson has what seems to be an obnoxious, confronting personality. The other issue was that of being able to easily travel, especially with a mind toward seeing grandchildren. Both Las Vegas and Spokane seemed to fit that bill with good airports, as Spokane had regular flights to many of the major cities in the western US, and to get to Rachel in Iowa would be easy, as well as the 5-hour drive to western Washington would be to see Jon, Sarah, or Diane.

Arriving home from Las Vegas, we learned that we had an acceptable offer on our home. This put much greater pressure on us to find a place to move to. The inspection report was borderline insane. Often there was no correlation with reality, and often the defects were so poorly defined as to be meaningless. Otherwise, the report requested items like cleaning out the rain gutters which had almost nothing in them. Though I was borderline furious at the inspector and ready to report him to the state, it was explained that this was just the norm for the real estate market. It really should be named the fake estate market, because that’s what it is. Using the realtor’s husband (whom I knew well) we were able to accomplish the various repairs in order to get the house acceptable to the buyer. In the tense days between the offer and final closure on the sale, Betsy and I took an overnight trip to Spokane to see several apartments. The apartments all seemed quite nice but we located one that we especially liked and made an offer on it that day. Soon afterward, our house closed and we were moving.

We left our home a week before the formal closure. My brother Gaylon drove up from Vancouver, WA, and was able to help us load a 20′ UHaul and get everything moved in a single load. Amazingly, Gaylon was able to fill every square inch of space in that truck, we were filled to the brim, barely shutting the truck door with all of our stuff. Sarah and her dear family were able to meet us in Spokane and help unload the truck so that it could be returned to UHaul. A final trip by me back to Puyallup and a meeting with the realtor left us to say our last goodbyes. A large sum of money was soon identified in our banking account.

Betsy and Gaylon ready to head out to Spokane Valley
Saying goodbye to our home of 29+ years

In Spokane Valley, we now had to create a home. The first chore was to discover the community that we were living in. There was a trail 10 minutes walking distance from our home which followed the Spokane River from Couer d’Alene to past Spokane. Betsy and I took off twice, first walking east toward Idaho, and then walking west toward Spokane. The trail was nicely kept up. Later, I was able to bicycle up to Coeur d’Alene and another day bicycle into Spokane to the Expo ’74 grounds. It was easy to see that cycling was a very acceptable activity in this community, and the potential for going much further afield was there. There are also an abundance of hiking trails in the vicinity. Closer to home, the apartment complex had a pool which we were able to use several times before settling in for the winter. There is a limited exercise facility in the complex which I’ve been able to use at least several times a week. Betsy also signed up for the YMCA, which is only several miles away. There is a shopping mall in the vicinity of our neighborhood, which we recently ventured into. It is big and beautiful, with more shops than appeared on the outside. Indeed, all the shopping, restaurants, and other amenities that we had in Puyallup are also close, but without the devilish traffic issues of Puyallup.

Betsy on the Centennial Trail with the Spokane River in the background
Our new apartment complex
A waterfall several miles from home in Mirabeau Park
Mirabeau Point Park, several miles from home

Getting all of our boxes unpacked has been a month-long plus ordeal. Thankfully, nothing was broken, and only several items remain unlocated. We discovered that we simply had way too much stuff. Did we need an extra set of dishes (which we never used anyway) for special occasions? Did we need 20+ wine glasses? Did we need 7-8 cookie pans? The list could go on and on, not only in the kitchen but for every room of the house. Truth be told, it has been a cathartic and wonderful feeling to get rid of all of your junk. We gave away much furniture that we knew would not be necessary after the move, but there was much furniture that we actually needed, mostly for efficient storage. We needed some bookshelves, pantry shelves, a tv stand, and various types of dressers and armoires. All of these arrived by Federal Express in very heavy boxes and demanded hours to assemble. Assembly was easy but took up much time. Once pictures were replaced on the wall and my cuckoo clock hung, it finally began to feel like home again.

Another issue was that of getting reconnected to the world. Betsy and I decided to drop our landline telephone and were able to maintain contact with the outside world with our trusty iPhones. Our only choice for internet connection was through Xfinity (Comcast) which I truly did not like. We did not sign up for extra sewage to come across our cable lines but were able to get our entertainment system rewired, which included a connection via an Apple computer to the broader internet. Lastly, I determined to start up my blog page. Hours and multiple evenings were spent trying to resolve the bugs. I decided to off-load my page to an internet service, which is relatively inexpensive, yet provided a little more protection against data loss. Sad to say, but I had to finally conclude that somehow I lost my entire webpage contents from the past 15 or more years. I’m sure the CIA has it stored somewhere in their vaults in Utah, but I’m not going to bother them to get it back.

The future now sits before us. This weekend will be our first trip back to Puyallup since leaving. We’ll be attending the funeral of a dear friend of ours, Delores Tulfo. We will also be seeing family at the Puyallup Oktoberfest where a friend of mine (Lyle Schaefer) will be performing with his polka band. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to see Dr. Peters as well as to make it to church. In the coming weeks, I will be helping Gaylon move to Ocala, Florida. We will combine that with a trip to Iowa to see Rachel, and will probably report that trip as a single blog entry.

On the home front, we still have many chores. We are still waiting for newly purchased furniture to be delivered, in order to complete the assembly of our home. We would like to get to know our neighbors better. We would like to develop a much stronger relationship with a church. We attended the Christ Church in Spokane and liked it, though there will be much that we will need to get used to. They take pride in their music, though I consider it to be strange, and could be of a much higher quality. The preaching is good. The church seems to attract those with a very specific mindset that is a bit foreign to our thinking, such as them wondering why we are doing what we are doing by moving to Spokane. I haven’t seen much with men’s activities, and the ladies’ activities center around crafts which doesn’t catch Betsy at all. Perhaps it is the church still emerging from the Wuhan virus era. Perhaps. The greatest draw of the church is that it has not given in to the liberalism that is destroying most churches in America. It would be easy for us to adapt to any church including a Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, or generic church, though our heart merges most with those who hold a Reformed theological mindset and where God is truly honored and the Scriptures truly honored.

Winter is setting in, and we haven’t lived for over 30 years in an area where it assuredly snows every winter. Will I take up cross country skiing again? Snow-shoeing? Do I dare ride my mountain bike in the snow, like many do around here? What about the PCT? Can I possibly resume the hike next year? Can I resume at Walker Pass like I intended to do this year? Will I be able to get to know the trails in this area? Idaho has much beautiful backpacking opportunities, but how will I go about getting to know the trails? Will there be backpacking folk interested in joining me? Will Betsy adapt to the area? Will we be able to find activities that we enjoy doing together? Only time will tell. At this point, we are completely happy and content with the decision we made to move to Spokane. We have no clue as to whether we’ll stay here or move on. We are happy that we don’t have the restraining ties of a home to limit our options. Maybe we’ll end up in the flatlands of Florida with a purchased home? Maybe we’ll end up back in western Washington? Only God knows.

The Spokane River, next to home
Trail going up Antoine Peak, just outside of our home
A view of the Spokane Valley from near the summit of Antoine Peak
Mt. Spokane in the distance, from the Antoine Peak Emerald Necklace Trail

Return of feuchtblog.net

Betsy and I have recently moved from Puyallup, WA to Spokane Valley, Washington, from the west to the east side of the state. In the process, for unknown reasons, my blogsite deleted itself from my Synology server. I’ve spent countless hours trying to retrieve the data and resolve the issues to no avail. Thus, I will be starting a brand new blog page, beginning on 01OCT2021. I was completely unable to retrieve any of the past pages on my blog site, and that data is lost down the rabbit hole forever. But, I’ll start afresh and not make the mistakes of the past. I will not be administering the blog page through my own server but will be utilizing a hosting site. Hopefully, there will be less data lost and less downtime that is experienced. You should be seeing new blogs in the near future.

Appalachian Trail

Me on McAfee Knob, Appalachian Trail

This was the year I was committed to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. So, what in tarnation am I doing on the other coast, hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT)? Well, in late August, I discovered that the Wilderness Medical Society was doing a 4-day trip on the AT with lectures in wilderness medicine. I figured that I could use an update on wilderness medicine, and so called up my best friend Dr. Peter Tate to see if he wished to also do it. For him, it meant CME credits, for me it meant having some time with an old friend and getting a sample of one best portion of the AT, a 30 mile segment around Roanoke, VA. Peter bit. So, we were both signed up. I was to fly into Lexington, KY, stay one night in Lexington, and then ride with Peter down to the farm in Stanford, KY, stay two nights there, and head out from there to the conference. I arrived safe and sound in Lexington on 19SEPT and reconnoitered with Peter. The next day, we were off to the farm. Peter was in the early stages of building a new house the last time I was at the farm a year and a half ago. It was now in the nearly complete stages. It truly was a masterpiece, especially considering that Peter did most of the construction himself. He even included a swimming pool which the house wraps around. On the interior, he made certain walls at an angle off of 90 degrees, creating a wonderful character to the house, with the swimming pool sitting at that oblique angle from the house. 

The house that Peter built, nearing completion. It appeared to be complete inside.
The inside kitchen area
Hiking the farm

Our full day at the farm included an about 7 mile hike through the pastures and woods on Peter’s land. We carried our backpacks fully loaded just to condition our bodies to the upcoming adventure. The next day, we headed out to our group meeting point at a camp outside of Roanoke, VA, called Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing (WAEL). The first and last night of the adventure were spent at WAEL, with the first night in a cabin, and the last night in our tents. Peter drove the Tesla, which seemed to have some software problems on the trip. I also realized that long distances in remote territories are NOT Tesla’s forte. After an uneventful night, we headed out for the trail. We were going to hike the trail southbound, with a starting point at Daleville, and ending at Dragon’s Tooth, then hiking out the Dragon’s Tooth access trail. The first three days all entailed about 9.5 miles of hiking, and the last was much shorter.

WAEL main meeting hall

Our first night was at Lambert’s Meadow. It wasn’t really a meadow, and there was confusion as to where we were to camp, the instructions suggesting that it was at the cabin, rather than a ¼ mile before that, where most people stopped. I couldn’t help but think of Lander’s Meadow in the middle of section f (California) and a truly beautiful meadow lined by majestic Ponderosa pines. Peter and I and Jay camped in the correct spot, and met Smoking Joe, a NOBO, and in desperate need for food. I had way too much food, so Joe pumped me some water in exchange for a bunch of food. I missed the lecture that evening since it didn’t really start until about 8:30 or later, and I was sound asleep by then. 

A view of Carvin Cove Reservoir below, which the trail wraps around.

The second hiking day, Peter and I took off at a leisurely pace, encountering two of the three sites of note in Virginia, the Tinker Cliffs, and McAfee Knob, the third being the Dragon’s Tooth, which we would see our last day. McAfee Knob seems to be iconic of the AT, so both Peter and I were photographed on the knob. Our second night was at John’s Spring. Though named after a spring, this was a dry campsite, and the last real water was at Lambert’s Meadow. We had to watch our water consumption. The site was a little small for the group of 23 of us, there was a shelter there where a few of our group slept, and we all managed ok. The lecture was on bears. 

Valleys were on both sides of us, and always civilized with farms filling the valley. The trail usually followed the ridge line. 
Peter on Tinker Cliffs
Lots of nice sandstone rock in the area

The hike the third day proceeded to have an interest in reaching the next water source, which was about 6 miles out of camp. Since the weather in the mornings was cool, there was not too much water loss, though I was down to my last half liter. We were to camp at Lost Spectacles Gap, a more roomy spot, though also a dry camp. The trail went through some nice meadows, and crossed a road where a short walk led to a restaurant/grocery store/gas station, where Peter and I decided to diverge and seek libations not found on the trail. We brought some beer back to camp to enjoy, and had a great time. Unfortunately, I ordered a hamburger for lunch which was larger than I anticipated, and when Peter and I stopped at a particularly majestic lookout point, I proceeded to throw up half my meal. Oh well. We arrived at camp fairly early, enjoyed a couple cigars, and laid low. There were no lectures, but instead, there was a mock bear attack session, where we had to make decisions regarding the traumatic injuries and administer initial care to the victims. It was a fun venture. 

Meadow hiking
Peter relaxing at the viewpoint having a beer while I was throwing up
A very relaxed Peter contacts Karma his wife

The last day was short, which us waking up a bit later than usual, ascending a rather treacherous portion of the trail to arrive at the Dragon’s Tooth. Arriving back at camp, we picked up our backpacks, and hiked out. We again were able to easily reach the store that we were at a day ago, and picked up a case of beer for the other hikers. We had yet another lecture on orthopedic injuries. The shuttles picked us up, hauled us back to WAEL, and we settled in for the evening. At this time, Peter discovered that his car, which was plugged in to be charged while we were hiking, had now totally drained of charge. After a few desperate measures, he had a tow truck haul him and the car to Richmond, VA. It was decided that with the uncertainty of repair of the vehicle, I would ride back to Lexington with Jimmy, a medical student at U of Kentucky in Lexington. I stayed for dinner, and enjoyed two more lectures, one on water filtration, and the other on Jessie’s thru-hike of the AT. Eventually, Peter arrived back to Lexington (quite late at night), and took me to the airport then next morning, on 28SEPT. I made it home intact!

Some of the trail was a class 3 climb! The white markers indicate the trail. 
Peter in front of Dragon’s Tooth
Riff riff back at camp, waiting to hike out. 
Ending the last hike of the season

Thoughts

First, about the WMS adventure. It was enjoyable, and provided me a chance to appreciate the AT for the first time. the WMS always does a first class act in their meetings. The nature of this meeting in the form of a backpack trip was a touch more chaotic. My only wish was that it would have been a touch more organized, with a stronger communication channel from the leaders about what was up, what was going on, and deciding on giving the trail lectures before it got pitch dark. Perhaps a 6 pm lecture time would have been most appropriate. At the time of the evening lecture, “map” sessions reminding us of the plan for the subsequent day would have been in best order. In spite of the problems, the infectious enthusiasm of the leaders for wilderness medicine was most notable. In all, I would call it a most wonderful adventure.

What about the AT? Having just hiked a 1000 miles of the PCT, could I make comparisons? Actually, the two trails are totally different. The strategy for doing them are different, the environments that you go through are different, and the personality of the trail is different. Most of the time, it is easy to get 15-25 miles a day on the PCT. Because the AT is less manicured, you would be doing well to get in 12-18 miles a day. The AT keeps you for the ;most part much closer to civilization, and in the section of the trail that we did, you never seemed to have ever left civilization. The AT is described as a long green tunnel. It is mostly deciduous trees, as compared to conifers for the PCT. The AT has many shelters (about every 8-12 miles) where the PCT has practically none. It seems that one must have a much different mentality when approaching the AT as compared to the PCT. In all, I did not acquire a bubbling enthusiasm to return and do the entire AT. After all, I still have large incomplete segments of the PCT to get done, if I even decide to do them! I will sign up to hike the PCT next year, but may spend most of my time camping with Betsy, and giving Betsy a summer of my life. I may get some cycling in, but plan to not leave home for more than a few weeks at a time. Betsy and I have depleted our Wanderlust, and wish for slightly more simple adventures from here on out. But then, who knows what the future will bring?

Playing Trail Angel at Harts Pass

Looking east from our campsite at Hart’s Pass

Betsy and I had two main reasons to go to Hart’s Pass. First, we needed to pick up Intrepid. Secondly, we needed to bring Jacob back home. Betsy and I decided to add a third reason, and that was to play trail angel. Hart’s Pass is the last portion of the PCT to cross by a road, at the Hart’s Pass campground, 30 miles from the Canadian border. At this campground, thru-hikers were getting their last “hurrah” before pushing on into Canada. If they did not have a Canada entry permit, they would turn around at the border and hike back to Hart’s Pass where they would hope that they could find a ride to Mazama and thus hitch-hike home. The gravel road from Mazama to Hart’s Pass is the highest maintained road in Washington, and often designated the most dangerous road in Washington. 

We had our truck totally loaded with hiker food and camping equipment. When we got to the Hart’s Pass campground, Intrepid was already there and able to find us a wonderful campsite with a great view. To our brief dismay, there was already a trail angel established there, a guy from Indiana named EZ, and was being helped by Tyler. After speaking with EZ, we quickly established how we would work together to maintain the trail angel spot. I brought my food up, as well as a 10 x 10 canopy. This came in very useful, as we arrived on a Tuesday, and it started to rain on Tuesday afternoon, the canopy providing much needed protection for our food and our hikers. Together, we actually had way too much food, so the next day, EZ went to town to get more ice and to drop off a large portion of our food at a trail angel in town, Ravensong. Several days later, EZ took off for three days to hike up to the border monument and back, leaving Betsy and I to take care of everything. We had a great time. At first, we felt that this was not an ideal site to be trail angel-ing, but quickly learned that hiker trash really appreciated our setup, and the non-hiker food, beer, and an encouraging word before their last push to Canada. What was most delightful was encountering hikers that I had met on the first few days of the trail out of Mexico finally arriving at the end. Some hikers had skipped the high Sierra, but all were eager to wrap up and move along, either returning home or returning to the high Sierra to complete that phase of their journey. Friday afternoon, a group from the Grand Coulee 7th Day Adventist Church showed up to trail angel. They apparently do this every year. They were a very kind group, and we were able to work out a transition for them to move in and us out. We had hoped that somebody would show up, since I knew that EZ would not be back from the trail until late Saturday or Sunday. Thus, the replacement group were most welcome to maintain continuity of the trail angel site at Hart’s Pass. 

EZ and I have met afterwards in Tacoma to discuss the future. We think that we will again play trail angel next year for 4-5 days, a week or two after Labor Day. Perhaps next year we will improve on our mistakes and make it an even better experience for thru-hikers in the last phase of their hike.

Our tent, a six man REI Kingdom, on space #5
Our camp kitchen table
Betsy in a very relaxed mode
EZ on the left and Tyler on the right
Denise with Betsy
Umbrella Man on the left, who I met south of Snoqualmie Pass
The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from Lynden, WA. They were quite familiar with the VanVoorst clan. They were doing the PCT by horseback, but made sure to come and enjoy a beer from us.
Betsy offering some slightly aged apples to the horses and mules, which were eagerly devoured.
The Mule. The Mule was from France, and most delightful and friendly character. I first met the Mule several days out from Mexico in the desert. I was in a long stretch of the desert trail when I saw a short happy person from France doing pushups just off the trail (as though the trail wasn’t exercise enough!). I saw the Mule a few more times in the next few days before losing him. I often wondered whatever happened to him. Apparently, his hike was totally successful!
A great Dane, I don’t remember his trail name. He got extremely excited when I informed him that I had some Carlsberg beer (from Denmark), which he was going to pack in and drink at the monument. This guy was really funny! Apparently, he was going to be on Good Morning Denmark when he got back home. 
The replacement trail angels, with some hiker trash (Intrepid and Jacob) as well as Betsy.