Dirty Disappointment

In 2009, Colt McCoy became the winningest quarterback in NCAA history with 45 collegiate wins. That year, Colt led the University of Texas Longhorns to the BCS national championship against the University of Alabama. Can you imagine? The national championship! He had to have been preparing himself for that game since he first held a football!

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Unfortunately – for Colt & UT fans – he was injured in the FIRST offensive play of the FIRST quarter. He got a taste of the lights, the crowds, the glory… but just a taste. He spent the remainder of the game watching from the sidelines as a freshman quarterback stepped in to fill his shoes.

I don’t know Colt McCoy, personally; however, I can imagine what was going through his head as he went from participant to spectator. Would he have done anything differently? Would Texas have won the game if he weren’t injured? Was his future with the NFL trashed along with his shoulder? The down right suckiness of the situation has stayed with me since watching that game. How do you come back from that kind of disappointment?

Last week, I got a little taste of how it must have felt for Colt McCoy. I’ve been dreaming of hiking the Appalachian Trail for years. It’s always been more of a fantasy than reality until this past Thanksgiving. The weekend before, I made a decision to hike from Fontana to Springer – even if I had to go alone. Over turkey and pie, it was decided that my cousin, the Ninja Lumberjack, and his wife Hinky Di-Di would join me for the trip.

The plan for our Appalachian Trail adventure was for Mr. Dirty, the Ninja Lumberjack, the Dirty Boy (who earned the trail name Frodo by hiking in his bare Hobbit feet), and the Hiking Ninja, to hike with Hinky Di-Di & I from Fontana Dam to Nantahala Outdoor Center. Hinky Di-Di and I were to continue hiking south to Springer Mountain. At least, that was the plan.

The Gang at Cable Gap Shelter
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns

On the third day, Hinky Di-Di began having some medical struggles. It was a scary afternoon, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I worry about what would have happened had her medical crisis occurred after the guys left the trail. Would I have had the mental clarity to successfully get her the help she needed? Would I have had the physical strength necessary to get her off the mountain?

I thank God that I didn’t have to find out the hard way. I like to think that I would have responded so well in the crisis that they would have given me an honorary Wilderness First Aid certificate. I’m grateful that Hinky Di-Di is going to be okay and that she didn’t have to rely solely on my abilities. I WILL be signing up for a wilderness first aid course so that I can be more confident in my ability to render first aid on the trail. During my time in the Air Force, I took Self Aid & Buddy Care. I’ve been hiking and backpacking for years, but I have never taken one of these courses. Now, I see just how important it is.

If you are someone who enjoys hiking – I assume there are some of you out there reading this, consider signing up for one of these courses. We really have no idea if or when someone will need us to step in and provide emergency care. It’s frightening to be on the side of a mountain with someone who is in medical distress and NOT be able to help. Wilderness First Aid Course Schedule

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.” – Paul Coelho

This last week has been pretty rough. I’ve felt a lot like how I assume Colt McCoy felt in 2010. I’ve questioned every decision I made. I’ve sat at home watching General Hospital mourning the fact that I wasn’t on the trail where I really wanted to be. I cried as I drove my car away from Springer Mountain; I never envisioned being driven to get my car… at least not driven by anything other than an intense desire & passion for the trail.

“Burning desire to be or do something gives us staying power – a reason to get up every morning or to pick ourselves up and start again after a disappointment.” – Marsha Sinetar

Cheoah Bald
The passion that I have for hiking the Appalachian Trail hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s still there, pulling me back to the trailhead. As I type this, Mr. Dirty is repacking his pack and planning a section tor us to hike in early July. There are changes that we will make to our packing lists, because with experience comes wisdom.

In honor of those who have suffered disappointment with dignity & climbed back on the horse – especially Colt McCoy…..

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Essentials for the Dirty Offspring

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. e.e. cummings

Do you let your kids get dirty? Do you give them an opportunity to experience the mud-lusciousness of the world? Too many don’t. One woman I know literally broke into hives and gave herself a migraine on a camping trip. She was obsessed with washing the hands of her children and keeping them off the ground. Those poor kids never were allowed to experience the wonder of a puddle. Seeing as how Mrs. Dirty used to make – and eat – mud pies as a kid, she had a much more laid back mommytude when it came to dirt. Go figure. Mr. Dirty, being in the Army, fully enjoyed field exercises when he was paid to sleep, play, and poop, in the dirt. Mr. Dirty composed this little ditty – along with help from Mrs. Dirty – for friends who want to take their kiddos in the woods and have them come home in one piece. If you want to take your kids to the woods & leave them there, read a different blog. We haven’t quite figured that one out 😉

Dirty Boy and his sister, Dirty Diva, are pretty comfortable out in the woods…they’ve done quite a bit of camping and backpacking since they were both very young (in fact Dirty Boy got a real early start when Mrs. Dirty was about 5 months pregnant on a camping trip). As a tiny little spit, Dirty Boy donned his hiking boots and Spiderman backpack to hike a trail that he has become very familiar with over the years. His pack didn’t carry more than a flashlight, snacks, and clean socks, but he carried it himself. Now when we backpack, he carries his own shelter, clothes, food, and sleep system. You’ve come a long way, Dirty Boy!

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Dirty Diva has always been the girly type who resists heading out on camping trips, then takes over every detail once she arrives. Who is in the lead on a hike? Dirty Diva. Who wants to build the camp fire? Dirty Diva. Now that she is off to college, we don’t get to enjoy having her do the grunt work anymore. We are relearning a lot of the old skills.

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When the kids were younger, Mr. Dirty worked overtime putting together their essential camping gear so that we could decrease “the oops” moments on the trip. The intent was for light hiking and to have the essentials to survive just in case they had to wait for rescue up to 72 hours. (You never want your Dirty Offspring to get lost in the woods, but you want them to have the resources they need JUST IN CASE.) We’ve all read the horror stories of “the lost boy scout”. It’s a parent’s nightmare.

As a passionate outdoor family (with the exception of Dirty Diva… she would never admit to being passionate…yet), it was so important to ensure our little Dirty Offspring could handle themselves if we *somehow* misplaced them for a few hours. We worked to teach them skills necessary to survival – like what to do when lost, filtering water, building a fire, first aid, and shopping (Mr. Dirty dragged the family along on several purchasing expeditions to REI and Cabela’s).

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Safety in the woods has always been something we have stressed with the DO. Both Dirty Diva & Dirty Boy learned to be careful with knives – how to handle and use them appropriately. They weren’t born knowing this (Mrs. Dirty wouldn’t have quite as much gray hair if they were). They had to learn – sometimes the hard way. Dirty Diva cut her thumb while chastising Mr. Dirty on the proper storage of sharp objects. The Dirty Boy, also, carries a few scars; however, for the sake of a harmonious marriage, we won’t go into THAT story (unless you offered Laffy Taffy – I’ll spill my guts for that). Both of the kids were taught the Rule of 3s & what to do if you were lost, and they carried their “Lost Card” … well, after they learned HOW to read.

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For those of you with young children, I can’t say it enough: take them outside! Playing in the mud, climbing trees, and wading in a stream, is what childhood (and adulthood for some of us) is all about. Let them play & be kids, but while you are doing it, teach them to appreciate nature for its beauty and for its ability to bring you to your knees. Give them the tools necessary to survive and teach them to use them (if you don’t know how, find a scouting organization & sign Junior up).

What are the “Essentials for the Dirty Offspring”?? Take a look:

Always on Their Body

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– Break-away neck lanyard with whistle and a small Microlight LED
– Benchmade Mini-Griptilian (DB’s is Green DD’s is a more regal purple)
– Pelican Mini-Strobe

In Their Bag

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KidsKit

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– Camelbak w/ bladder (we found that the kids drank more from a Camelbak than a water bottle, thus keeping the DO properly hydrated)
– Mora Clipper  (with Kydex sheath and piggybacked fire steel)*
– 55-gallon garbage bag for emergency shelter
– Space blanket
– Ziploc bags (1 gallon and 1 qt)
– Potable Aqua tablets
– Small Nalgene water bottle (16oz)
– Small nesting cup (Snow Peak’s 300, single wall)
– Clif Bar
– Peanut Butter
– Individual drink flavor packets
– Water tube (about 20” of Camelbak tubing)
– About 50 feet of 550 paracord
– Cigarette lighter
– Survival matches
– Large Tea-light candle wrapped in tinfoil
– Cravat
– PAL LED light/strobe
– Silva compass
– Swiss Army Knife
– extra pair of socks in ziplock bag
– Small fishing kit* (just something I added out of habit)

Small First Aid Kit w/ some extras

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– Band-Aids
– Large bandages
– Large gauze bandages
– Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin
– Antibiotic/burn cream
– Providone iodine wipes
– Sting-eze wipes
– Needles, spiderwire spool
– Dental floss
– Medical tape
– Moleskin
– Sliver Gripper tweezers
– Safety pins
– Large paperclips
– Pencil wrapped w/ 12” of duct tape
– Razor blade
– Rain-rite paper, 2 sheets
– 6 feet of surveyor’s tape wrapped on paperclip