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type 1 adventures
On my evening run through the Arizona desert last night I had a number of wildlife encounters. Expected during the summer season and remarkably common during my runs on my local trail route. I would encounter two Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes this evening which gives me almost as many sightings as all of last year (a record year for me). It is still June with about four months of watching where I step and hearing the occasional rattle, jingling while I sort out how close I am to the snake.
Of the many assorted and interesting critters I experience while I take in the desert environment, the most often seen, in this order are deer, rabbits and you guessed it, rattlesnakes. Twenty one at last count for the Spring and Early Summer season. Getting rather close to the number that welcomed me on my runs last year.
I love wildlife encounters and, well, snake encounters are a not quite a love affair but I do take on a trail runner crazy enough to run through the desert in the summer time, will trek through snake territory and will have a few meet and greet sessions with other inhabitants toting a rattle. It is their home and I do respect that simple fact.
Do rattlesnake's give my heart a jolt? No, but there is a bump in the heart rate when I take a quick dodge to the left or right to avoid a snake. They can blend in very well to the desert floor but I have had to become great with those scaly senses.
Very, very thankful that of all the creatures on the planet, the rattlesnake rates high on the list of animals that let you know of its presence. A beautiful fact and one of the reasons I have an admiration for the scaly and sometimes noisy, scary creatures of horror films and jolting newspaper articles. Oh, those stories of people who get bitten after decapitating a rattlesnake are primal fear unleashed.
I have adjusted my trail runs, slightly, due to encounters at the start of my trail. There are one of two 'friendly' slithery reptiles along the start of my trail time. Roughly eight or nine meet & greets within the first minute of the trail. I had to wonder about the fact that there was a r snake 20 feet up the trail. The photo below is another run-in that is at the exact start of the trail. Sheeesh! I now walk this lively section.
Clock is ticking toward my next run. Almost all of the wildlife I see on my runs is during the suppertime excursion. I will have my eyes dialed in for any and all wildlife, capture what I can with my camera and enjoy getting out in nature and continue to improve my health and diabetes care. And watch my step.
If you find yourself trekking through rattlesnake territory, do be ultra careful. I have read about some horrendous encounters with some devastating results after interactions with Mr. Rattlesnake.
Plan to share another angle on my wild wildlife experiences. Could include Gila Monsters, Tarantulas (yes, I pick them up!), Desert Tortoises, Bobcats, Javelina's (no, don't pick those up), Giant Desert Centipedes, and who knows what else might appear in my blog.
The Gila River was flowing at a yearly high rate (357 cubic feet per second-C.F.S.) and I received a phone call from Billy Joe, an adventurer who also has type 1 diabetes. Google unveils a record flow at Winkelman (our entrance point) of 55,000 C.F.S.! A slight difference from our day on the river but it would be enough flowing H2O to make things interesting.
Initially, I was to join Billy and a friend to support his journey down the Gila River from Winkelman to Kearny, Arizona. The Gila River is not a large flow of water but for the arid desert Southwest it is a vital piece of the life puzzle for the area. It is not a deep river, although I can share that in many points it was over my head. We will get to my means for analyzing this fact, later.
I would receive a phone from Billy the night before the trip and he had secured a 2nd kayak so that I would be able to join him on the river instead of along the river. While I have a decent background of sea kayaking this would be my first time to river kayak. No spray skirt nor bear spray. With a bright and early start I scrambled to pack items for the trip. My nature is to start packing well before an outing and meticulously go over the details. I am a planner and know that I need/want diabetes supplies, safety and camera gear, food, etc. I headed out the door a little short on the full list of items. While I am not aquaphobic, I dabble in some level of -ic that is right below aquaphobic (water panic).
The journey would start well and gave the indication that it would be a simple float. River was moving us along at a good clip and thick, lush vegetation crowded along the vital water source streamed by. Soon the river narrowed under a railroad bridge and the nestle of branches and trees encroached upon our water highway and revealed a drop off. Grabbing nearby foliage, we analyzed our situation and decision to 'ride' the drop or negotiate around it. Negotiation appeared to offer minimal opportunities so we rowed forward. No problem and we continued on our way to Hayden then Kearny.
At some maze of roots and branches and a narrow point with a funnel of faster flowing water I ran into a low hanging branch. When this happens the outcome is somewhat settled. You can do your best to push off, duck, or skirt the 'object' but if the current is flowing in its direction and/or you pick a less than adequate line, you will be stopped. While you may be furiously tackling the water with your oars the liquid freight train continues forward and the laws of physics begin to evolve. I was flipped.
Into the river I went and I was now submersed, pawing upward to break the surface. At the same time, you, the kayak and your oar are riding the current, thankfully at the same speed. At this point it is a crushing reality that I need to keep that kayak in my grasp and capture the oar. Pure misery if any of those vital pieces got caught up in the thickets and I was still moving downriver. Really difficult to land on the steep slopes and go back upstream to retrieve anything.
Billy Joe's Video on our kayak adventure.
This is not the first time I have been introduced to a body of water while kayaking. During an ocean kayak venture, I unvoluntarily exited the kayak and found myself in Sitka Sound (Alaska). Thankfully, it was close to shore and I had a spray skirt. Bobbing in the Gila River, I now had an open kayak that was now full of water. I knew how heavy 90 ounces of water was to run with. Imagine the weight of a boat full of water. Billy Joe had been just ahead of me but he was out of sight and screams to know that I had been hung up. I secured the oar, righted the kayak and found a spot to 'park' the kayak while I did some bailing to lighten the kayak and pulled it up the steep slope to turn over and drain the aqua pura.
This would happen a number of times and I began to get more comfortable with an equation that would have overwhelmed me in the past. Do not ask me to go out on a raging river and practice kayak exits, but I was taking some steps (strokes) in the right direction by the end of the day to getting more comfortable in a watery environment.
Me and my gear (I had tethered the living daylights out of my gear bag) did survive and I am happy that I had this opportunity. It was a learning experience and I realized that many things could have gone wrong. Yes, oh yes, the insulin pump brilliantly kept on ticking. Thankfully, we did not encounter these landmines and did have a memorable, but good ish time on the Gila River.
I am working on a video of this. Take a deep breath!
A question my parents, friends, relatives and unknown strangers ask (Why I bungee jump). Why would you jump off of a perfectly good bridge? Or a bad bridge for that matter?
My adventurous life of jumping from bridges, out of airplanes (tandem jump), base jumping (tandem jump), rope jumps and swings from bridges, mountain climbing, rock climbing, caving, and organizing extreme events (long ocean swim races in Alaska), etc. all goes back to a single moment in life while I lived in Boise, Idaho. A clarifying moment of who I would become and how I would find a little extra zest in life and how I would make decisions as opportunities would cross my path.
My Sony POV video.
My neighbor Curt strolled by one morning and asked me a simple but complicated question. Would I like to join him and a few others to bungee jump off of a bridge near where I lived?
My mind played some games with me and I inched toward creating a reason I would or could not jump. My heart said, No, We are Not Going That Direction! A few more seconds of swirling brain waves bouncing in my head and I took a deep breath.
Video of me from my camera. Filmed by Sean Crosby.
Ok, maybe a few deep gasps for breath. I walked next door, rattled Curt's door and semi-confidently uttered, 'Yes'.
My thought was simply and in a somewhat child-like manner were that I could not come up with a solid, valid or even heroic reason to not do the bungee jump.
That is how I approach decisions to take on new challenges in life. Is there a good reason not to do this?
Interesting timing as Matthew Butterman, a type 1 diabetes acquaintance, contacted me for an article to post online at Diabetes Daily. He knew that I did not live the usual lifestyle of a person with diabetes. In the 'Out of the Box' zone!
He did an outstanding job on "Be Extreme! Seven Lessons for People with Diabetes Doing Extreme and Adventure Sports". Thank You Matthew for reaching out and sharing a niche lifestyle for those with diabetes. Article link below:
As mentioned, the timing was unique as I was doing a bungee jump at the Navajo Bridge (Grand Canyon-Arizona) very soon (all photos and videos are from this jump).
This was to be an extra special experience for me as it had been ten years since the last time I had connected to a bungee cord. I had contacted Eric Lyman (Over the Edge, Inc. Bungee) to see if we could orchestrate a group get together at the bridge. Bingo on seeking adventures!
Bryce Myhre - video
Bungee Eric had selected April 1, 2018 for our jump. No, not an April Fools Joke! It was a nod to the Dangerous Sports Club and their first bungee jump on April 1, 1979, helping to usher in a sport that I was now attached to. Pun intended. A crazy group of people from England who traveled the world doing very interesting, unique and crazy events. Also an amusing read.
I journeyed up to the bridge with Eric Peffer, who would create some excellent memories of the bungee jump via his trusty camera. We were joined by Barry and Sharon Glazier (friends from Kanab, AZ) and some of their friends.
Alyse (video above) had come to the bridge with her family (with the Glaziers) to watch some crazy people jump off the Nav. She would get a thumbs up from her parents and would make an exceptional leap.
The day would go very well as Abe and Bryce balanced on the railing, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and they were in flight and no screams ensued. It was now my time to scream, or not, as I did my best to balance on the narrow railing. Did I happen to mention that the wind was fierce, howling at those whose scary moment 467 feet above the Colorado River was now turned up a couple notches.
My years and years of leaping off things seemed to have soared back through my veins and I was at the low end for nerves rattling. That 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 did jingle a part of my brain that had semi-retired on my last jump in 2008, but I managed to jump in somewhat good form.
If 1 hits and you are still standing, you owe Eric a 6 pack!
I enjoy plummeting to the earth at race car speed but the bounce back up toward the bridge will flip flop your innards in a special manner. I expected this, but did not expect that my camera would fly off my head. Miraculously, I would catch it. Only issue now was I was spinning, bouncing and upside down and would have to put it back on my head. An incredible stroke of luck (maybe a bit of skill) but I now envisioned dropping the cam into the river far below.
I was successful in mounting the Sony and I clicked into a free ride up to the bridge far above. A few anxious seconds, but so glad that I had a life moment on the media card and the life changing experiences that doing such extreme things in life can produce.
Moments such as these do not happen sitting on the couch and wondering what if. Say yes to what may challenge, scare, or freak you out. The rattling anxiety is temporary, the memories are forever!
Headwinds greeted us as we journeyed east out of Adrian, TX. It was mid-September and the weather was changing as we could see our breath in the morning shuffle to pack our bikes, eat, shake the tiredness from our legs and take a quick blood sugar to see where my blood sugars were residing. Our timing for this adventure would reveal outstanding Fall colors while scrambling for warmer clothing as the temperatures began to sink. Not matter, each day was
amazing and a true revealing of the wonderful American spirit and hospitality.
Going through my journal from the trip, I see that on this short segment that while we pulled onto an on ramp I would grab onto a truck bumper and got a free, yet limited ride. Yes, I have just disallowed my riding a bicycle from Tucson, AZ to Yorktown, VA.
This short Texas segment also included the dog in the photo above. Rog had stopped to pet the Toto and soon the dog had chosen us as his new owners. He went Crazy! The photo must be me and said dog as he/she, for some silly reason, elected to stick by me mimicking a tick. Rog found this to be of supreme humor. After 3+ miles (at 14 miles per hour) Toto tuckered out and was seen no more.
Good fortune would see us with at Wayland Baptist University for a visit with Roger's brother, Lance. Four walls and a roof over your head is a special highlight when you are seeing your breath in the morning. Also, managed to play some basketball, frisbee and continued our tradition of eating almost everything in sight.
Lance drove us back to the route where a flash flood and tornado had touched the area the day before. More good timing for the bike riders who prefer to avoid tornado's when possible. We would encounter some of the wet stuff and it was apparent that we were heading into a storm. Roger likes these rough, snotty conditions. I am not craving misery, although I have an ability to deal with most anything that is tossed my way or deluges from above.
A 109-mile day and we were into Oklahoma and pretty much out. The panhandle of OK is short by all standards and we rolled into Kansas, my birthplace and home for all of six months. This would be our third 100+ mile day. I still think back to how incredible this was as we were carrying loads that should only be transported by something with a machine designed to convert one form of energy into mechanical energy. Yes, an engine.
Roger would share during this segment, "This whole thing is still novel. If the time is right and the music inspiring, I'll get goosebumps all over my legs and my understanding will tingle with joy, just thinking about how fun this is."
The Mission Hits Close to Home
The following was part of a presentation at the American Diabetes Association Mountain Region meeting in Phoenix, AZ on April 20, 2016. My story was edited and included with encouraging and inspirational stories American Diabetes Association staff from the Mountain Region. They were: Lynda Jimenez (Phoenix ADA), Beverly Bartel (Montana ADA), Anne Dennis (Phoenix ADA), Hannah Hoogenboom (Denver ADA), Julie Garcia (Phoenix ADA), Kirsten Weatherford (Montana ADA) and Kaylee Gronau (Phoenix ADA) and myself. All of us either have Type 1 diabetes or have family members who do.
I believe my first real connection with the ADA was a journey from Seattle, WA to Glacier National Park (Montana) for a backpacking excursion to the Granite Park Chalet. We actually celebrated Christmas on August 25
on the calendar before they closed for the season.
The Glacier National Park trip might have been the spark I needed to make an entry into the world of adventure and seeking new challenges. Another tie in with the ADA was the BBAD (Border-to-Border-Against- Diabetes) Tour. A group ride from the Utah/Arizona border to the Utah/Idaho border. 4 of the 5 riders were T1’s. The trip was organized to finish the day before the ADA EXPO Salt Lake City where we were involved/featured.
Hannah Hoogenboom’s uncle Peter was on the tour!
I have also been involved with the ADA being the beneficiary in past events. Two ocean swim events benefiting the ADA in Alaska (10k/5k) made for some interesting experience in event planning! So glad and fortunate to be working with the American Diabetes Association and to have such wonderful people helping me out and inspiring participants in our events.
Note: I am the Market Manager for the Tucson ADA