Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hiking Old Rag Mountain: A Milestone of Recovery

Almost 14 months ago, I had a kidney transplant that changed my life.  The new kidney, donated by my friend Cathy, started working before the doctors had a chance to close me back up. 

During the surgery, however, some nerve damage occurred and I was not able to feel or move my right leg from my ankle to my hip.  I had to walk with a cane and fell several times a day - not a good combination while recovering from abdominal surgery.

While working through physical therapy and learning to live with the medication that is a permanent part of my life (immuno-suppressants to help my body not reject my new kidney) I set a goal of climbing my favorite mountain - Old Rag Mountain.  This challenging route is part hike, part rock scramble, and part brain challenge. 

  After finishing physical therapy, I continued to exercise to strengthen my muscles.  Over the past 6 months, I have continued to gain some feeling in my leg.  Now there is only a 6 inch area in the front of my thigh were I have no feeling.  I decided that if I had to choose between feeling and function; I'd choose function.  I've also been working on upper arm strength as well as limited  abdominal  exercises (I don't have much feeling in my right abdomen (where my new kidney sits).

The first part of the hike is a challenging series of switchbacks.  It took us about 1 1/2 hours to do that part.  The view from the first outlook was beautiful - lots of farmland and amazing clouds.

The second part of the hike is the rock scramble and this blaze (blue paint used to mark the trail) made me laugh.

Yes, this trail led us down into a crevasse.  Being only 5 feet tall, I was at a disadvantage.  I could not simply stretch down have my feet touch solid rock.  I had to maneuver, using legs and arms between the rocks to scoot down.

I loved how some of the trees along the way were worn and smooth from years of hiker's hands grabbing onto them.
(I plan to do a future post about my medic alert bracelet - I don't leave home without it)

Some of the rock out-crops were just amazing.

There are no rules about the climbing technique needing to be pretty.  You just have to get up the mountain anyway you can.  This particular area required me to pull myself up with mostly arm strength and then swing my body around quickly so I didn't slide back down.

I couldn't have completed the hike without this dear man (who is camera shy).  Hubs had to pull me up and over several areas and give me lots of encouraging words to keep me going.

After another 1 1/2 hours of rock scrambling, we reached the top.  The top was enclosed within a cloud, so the view wasn't that great - but the hike wasn't really about the view, was it!  We didn't stay long because it was very cold and windy.

As we got ready to leave the top and head back down, we were able to get a good shot of the valley below when the clouds cleared out for a minute.  Just beautiful.

***For those of you who know me in real life but haven't seen me in awhile:  Yes, my hair is curly!  I lost about 1/3 of my hair after my surgery and when it grew back in, it was curly.  My hairdresser is doing a great job of helping me to grow it out so everything is even.  I'm hoping that letting my hair grow will help to make my face look thinner.  The Prednisone I take has an unpleasant side-effect called "moon face" which adds extra weight onto my face.  It's not a terrible side-effect, but I'm always shocked when I look in the mirror.  I'm always wondering who that woman in the mirror is!


  1. Wow - Old Rag! That is some hike Kelly. I remember the time I hiked that with you, Skip and the kids. I'm just thrilled you are doing so well.

  2. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing. I am humbled by your spirit and grateful you have a dear hubs in your life. You give me hope.

  3. Yay!! I'm so glad to hear that you're doing so great and congrats on reaching an amazing goal! Those views are amazing!


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