I did my first interview! Big yikes.
It was a little weird to talk about myself (in writing I do it all the time, but to a stranger?! On the phone?!). It was a lot of fun though, and it has really given me the impetus to get movin' again in terms of posts.
Big shout-out to "The Healthy" for the feature, and Alyssa Sybertz, the author! The title of the article is, "My Severe Back Pain Turned Out To Be A Hip Misalignment."
Read the full article here.
I know I haven't posted in a while, life just got in the way! Remember that time I decided to redo my kitchen myself? Greeeeat idea.
But seriously, I'm happy they featured my journey to get a diagnosis. Don't ever stop looking for a solution! It can be awful, and hard, but you are so worth it.
There's a lot of trans folks that follow Misfit Hikers. Transgender people face a lot of discrimination, particularly in hetero/cis, alpha white-male dominated outdoor world.
They face discrimination and hate - from access to housing and restrooms, to inadequate healthcare and hate-crime support.
In 1995, Tyra Hunter was in a car accident. And when the EMTS discovered she was trans, instead of helping her they called her derogatory names and refused to treat her. She was finally taken to a hospital, where the same held true. She died, suffocated to death. And it was completely preventable. She was murdered through inaction. Her death was a rallying cry that lead to significant change for transgender people in the healthcare world. (Not NEARLY enough, though).
On June 6, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order revoking discrimination protections for transgender people seeking healthcare. It's to go in to effect mid-August.
This administration has actively and continuously sought to dismantle the protections and persecute those in the #PridePack. In the midst of a pandemic and in the wake of a better supported and acknowledged #blm movement, this executive order is particularly insensitive, damaging, and demonstrative of his agenda. How can those that are transgender feel safe in the outdoors, when they aren't safe on the street?
To my transgender followers, I'm sorry this is happening, and please know this is a safe, supportive space. You are important to the outdoors and your voices are heard here. If you need additional support during this time, there are many resources for you to take advantage of, these are just a few.
If you aren't trans, but want to better support a transgender person in your life, here's a good place to start.
If you have others, please feel free to comment below.
“Lonesome lobo. Rockabilly. Lowrider. Oldies all day. Greaser. Mechanic. Mack trucks Chicano. Honky tonker. Vegetarian. Buddhist teachings. Hiker. Traveler. Animal rights. Colorado. Cali. Tattoo luv 🖤. Found my biological father and family 2 years ago at the age of 41. Amazing story there. Highly impacted over last few years by a massive brain tumor. Radiation in 2018-19 and serious side effects. With the luv of friends and family, I healed and moved forward changing my world. I still have to perform MRI’s every 6 months as long as I live to monitor the brain tumor. And at the same time I’m pursuing my passions. On day one, NOT one day. Lost 80lbs. Active every single day. And learning so much of the hiker life and enjoying hikes religiously with just the sounds of nature. Life is short and beautiful. Embrace the day. Embrace your close ones. And embrace yourself 🖤. — (Maurice, @Lone_some_lobo)
Pronouns: None (El Lobo)
[Image Description: Maurice rides a drop seat, custom motorcycle on a paved road, with trees, a sidewalk, and signs in the background. Maurice wears a plaid, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Maurice wears glasses and has a moustache and goatee.]
*MISFIT HIKER SHOWCASE*
“I found myself lost living in a new state and needing another change in life in 2016. I came across the 52 Hike Challenge and that was the beginning of my hiking lifestyle. My first thoughts were there's no way I can complete 52 hikes in a year; one hike a week. Funny part was that I found myself hiking more than that per week. I found myself seeing Arizona like no regular people would see it. Hiking has taught me to be more calm and to challenge myself physically and mentally. Finding myself pregnant at 43, wondering how was I going to continue hiking with a child, has been the best experience ever. Teaching and raising my daughter to love the outdoors has brought me more close to nature. Before moving to Arizona, I wasn't a hiker -now I'm glad hiking has become the most important part of my lifestyle.” — Michelle, (@hikerocknroll).
Michelle is an ambassador for the Phoenix Hikerbabes Chapter in Arizona. She runs the chapters facebook page and started an Instagram page to share the Phoenix ladies photos from their adventures. Her goal is to encourage other like-minded women to get outdoors.
Tag #misfithikers to be showcased!
[Image Description: A woman with tats, wearing a pink brimmed ballcap, black shorts, and glasses, walks on a dirt path in the desert. She has on a backpack with blueish straps. She is smiling down at a toddler wearing a pink t-short and short. The toddler is carrying a babydoll wearing a blue/green outfit. Mountains rise in the background, and scraggly brush and rocks dot either side of the trail.]
*MISFIT HIKERS SHOWCASE*
“Growing up in a city and the youngest of 4 kids in the 1960s, I always felt a little out of the mainstream, a misfit. Most of my friends and family were city people but I was drawn to nature from my earliest memories. My favorite TV shows were about nature and I took every opportunity to get out of the city and go walking in the woods.
As I grew older, I also increasingly became aware of another unusual feeling. You see, I was assigned male at birth based upon my genitilia like everyone is. But they couldn't see my heart, soul and mind. At this time there was no Internet, no support groups, no words to describe my feelings. So I followed the path that was given to me. It wasn't my path but it was my only choice.
By the early 1970s I began to understand that I wasn't alone. But the information was still sparse and erroneous. So I struggled with this civil war in my soul, seeking help through counseling and reading anything I could get my hands on.
But I didn't fit neatly into a box or label...I was a true misfit. This lasted for over 40 years cycling episodes of depression and confusion with episodes of certainty that I wasn't Transgender. But I was.
Finally in 2008 I began my journey to myself and came out publicly in 2016. I couldn't be happier (other than losing some "friends and family"). And all through this my love of hiking has sustained me. Before my transition (gender revelation, not transition), I hiked to run away from myself by taking on the personna of a rugged "mountain man". Now that I've shed my lies, I hike as the woman I've always been without pretension and unafraid to show my full self as a Tomboy kind of woman, being a badass hiker chick! And I finally love my life!” – Stephanie (@Trans_zen_hiker_nhsteph)
Tag #misfithikers to be showcased!
[Image Description: Stephanie stands smiling as she pulls a grey glove from her hand. She is wearing a blue skirt, black leggings, black long-sleeved shirt and a blue buff. Her cheeks are rosy and her blond hair tied in a pony tail. Tall, snow-covered pine trees line both sides of a snow covered path. Orange hiking poles stand crossed, off to one side.]
“Hi. My name is Shaun. I’m a misfit all around. I believe boxes are best for cats not for humans so I am myself 100% of the time. I struggle with drug resistant severe depression and anxiety. I try to find the positive and the humor in everything. When I’m not working (I manage a Tea bar where the workers lovingly refer to me as “dad”) you can definitely find me outside. It’s where I feel most happy, free, and at peace. I hike, skateboard, trail run, and explore (both solo and with friends) and have for as long as I can remember. My philosophy in outdoors and life is “you do you!”—Shaun, (@Dykesonhikes)
Pronouns: she/her or they/them
📍 Chico, California – This land was originally held in stewardship by the Mechoopda Maidu peoples and others.
Tag #misfithikers to be showcased!
[Image Description: Smiling in sunglasses and a black t-shirt with a white “Unlikely Hikers” t-shirt, Shaun stands clasping a grey and black backpack shoulder straps. Behind her is a vista of scrub brush, and tall pines and mountains can be seen in the background.]
“I was never much for the outdoors- even living in Colorado - until I got my pup Callie. I am so thankful to her and her love for the outdoors. I had a hard couple of years between my health and family and being outside has brought a calmness back to my life. Nature has become my happy place, my getaway Hiking has changed my outlook on adventures in general. There are so many place I want to visit and see!! I started my insta since I saw few people that looked like me out of my local trails. I wanted to show others that you don’t have to be a certain type to enjoy the outdoors!!” – Natalie (@Chubbygirlhikes)
📍 Mt. Cutler, Colorado area, this land was originally held in stewardship by the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and possibly others.
Tag #MisfitHikers to be showcased!
[Description of Image: A smiling girl stands in a pink sleeveless top, black tights, and a black ball- on an outcropping of rock with scraggly brush and red-rock behind her, a green vista in the distance. A white dog with a black patch of fur on her eye stands next to her.]
Lucy and I did it!! 500 miles since July. BOOM. DONE.
BUT...funny story. With the holiday and having a chest cold, I didn't actually pay attention to the date. I wasn't going to go hiking today (Monday), cause it was raining and cold and I kept hacking up a lung, but I said &^%$ it. I actually thought I had another day to finish it off - as in I thought New Years Eve was on Wednesday.
But, it's done. I did it. Despite quite a few setbacks, even with my back, I did it. Hell yeah.
Hiking has opened up so many new horizons and connected me with so many new folks. I can't wait to see what 2020 brings.
P.S. I don't actually give a *&^% about miles, it was a random goal I set mainly cause I like the song.
Tag #misfithikers to be featured!
📍Sagamore Creek Loop, Bedford Reservation, this land originally held in stewardship by the Wyandotte, Mingo, and possibly others.
As always, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me here.
I was in the parking lot after a hike last week, when I took a step and as my father would say, that was all she wrote. My lower back exploded in pain. I managed to drive home, took some pills, and settled in for what I assumed would be an uncomfortable evening. But the pain kept increasing, and at 1:00 a.m. woke my husband up to take me to the downtown ER at the Cleveland Clinic.
Going to the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus ER was a big, big mistake and ended up being a traumatic experience instead of a healing one.
They took me back quickly and a resident came shortly thereafter. His examination, moving everything everywhere, increased my pain intensely, but I'm sure it needed done in the manner he did it. He was confused because they'd put me down as having flank pain, not back pain. He asked a lot of questions about my hiking: Oh, you were hiking? First time out? You really hiked four miles? Are you sure you didn't fall? You hike how many miles a week? These were the gist, both then and when he came back later. It became clear he thought I was a fatty out for exercise above what I could do, probably the first time I'd been out in years, and had managed to hurt myself. I also got the feeling they thought I was drug seeking, based on the course of treatment that was yet to come and some of the off-hand comments that were made throughout.
They did not ask what medications I was currently on, nor if I had any allergies. Then a nurse showed up to give me some steroids and Tylenol. Which I am allergic to, which was noted in my chart (Cleveland Clinic has integrated systems, so they had my chart), AND I was wearing an allergy band. Even after my husband and I explained the allergy, the nurse STILL tried to get me to take it. Finally, he left and said he'd speak with the doctor. Thirty minutes later, he came back with a Lidocaine Patch and some heating pads.
I'd like to take a moment to mention I wasn't calmly sitting in a chair. I was crying, laying in a bed, and I'd explained over and over my pain was at a 6-7. I was REALLY in pain.
By 3:30 a.m. no one had come back and the pills I'd taken at 9:00 p.m. had worn off. The pain hit a level nine, and I was crying pretty hysterically and fairly incoherent. My husband kept going and trying to find someone. They couldn't find the Resident. There must have been a shift change, because a nurse helping another room heard me and came in. His name was Michael, and asked what was going on. He was pretty horrified and went to get help. He also brought a blanket and kept me pumped full of ginger ale. Michael was amazing.
Help came in the form of the attending, since no one could find my doctor. They then tried Valium - which is a muscle relaxer, but also treats anxiety. This was followed an hour later by one 5 mg hydrocodone. Followed another hour later by the ORIGINAL resident coming and saying they couldn't give me intravenous drugs, the next step, without admitting me. My pain had gone from a 9 to a 7, but I was still crying. He said to be prepared to do PT and do some work. I responded, again, telling him I'd been in PT for several years and did exercises every day, to which he answered, "Uh, ok." I responded along the lines of, "Whatever you have to do to actually get me some relief, please just do it. Seriously. I've had enough. The first doctor was here and disappeared for two hours, I just need help" I then felt the need to apologize - though I'm not sure why - it wasn't like I was yelling. You could see he was clearly pissed, and he just turned and walked out.
Michael came back a few minutes later to give me morphine, saying the doc was discharging me if I could walk after taking it. But then he discovered I didn't have an IV in, which apparently no one had noticed. One was put in, I got the morphine, and was discharged. The morphine brought the pain to a four, and they gave me scripts for a steroid, five hydrocodone, and more valium. No imaging was done, despite telling them over and over that the pain was different from my original injury and despite numbness in my leg, which I still have.
My self diagnosis is a new herniated disc. I needed help getting the pain under control, and I needed to know that was the issue (and the numbness would go away). They never followed up on the leg after the initial exam. My pain is better than what it was, but still significant.
I feel, frankly, traumatized. I've cried a lot. I was dismissed. I didn't know how to get them to believe me, to help me. I've had nightmares about having to go back, or running in to the doctor in another capacity.
I've worked for years to get to the point where my daily pain level is a 2. I've worked hard to take the least amount of medication possible, to start hiking again. I'm proud of what I accomplished.
I shudder to think if my husband hadn't been there, as I was in too much pain to advocate for myself.
I was dismissed and treated without respect by most of the staff (not Michael) at the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus ER. I felt small, judged, and unworthy.
Because I'm fat.
Because I'm a woman.
Because they assumed I was drug seeking.
I feel embarrassed and ashamed writing this, like I did something wrong. But I didn't. It was their incompetence and bias.
I've been doing a lot of reading on women, pain, and the ER, which I'll post in my next blog update. It's been eye opening.
Shame on you, Cleveland Clinic. Do better.
I'd like to note that the Cleveland Clinic is huge, and all my doctors are with them. This is a review of only one of their ERs/centers. My regular doctor, who is helping get everything back under control, is absolutely amazing. I can't rave about her enough.
Have you ever had a negative ER experience? Been dismissed or marginalized by the medical community because of your gender, skin color, size, etc? Comment below or email me here.
“I started hiking less than 2 years ago with little to no experience. I decided to hit the trail to find inner peace and my sanity after my husband passed. Being by myself and with no hiking friends was pretty difficult and lonely, but it didn’t stop me. I came out of my comfort zone and started making friends and reaching out to hiking groups. Now I’m unstoppable.” -- Vina, (@thepinayhiker101).
Preferred Pronouns: She/Her
Vina would like to give a shout-out to #onelovehikebikerun #socalhiker
📍 Red Box Station/Strawberry Peak, this land was originally held in stewardship by the Chumash, Kitanemuk, Tataviam, Hahamog'na, and possibly others.
Tag #misfithikers to be showcased!
[Image Description: A woman in a red and grey long-sleeved shirt with a grey hat that reads “sixpackofpeaks challenger” on it stands, wind-blown hair across her face, in front of a Strawberry Peak marker. There’s green brush and blue sky in the background.]
I've been thinking a lot about next year. What I want to accomplish with Misfit Hikers and with myself. And I've come to a realization that I need to focus less on my weight and more on my goals. What is it I want my body to be able to do? And what do I need to be able to do to get there? When I'm 75, I'm not going to give a shit about a roll (unless it's Pillsbury). What I am going to care about is whether I'm able to still do the activities I love and if I'm still able to try new adventures.
For most of my life, I've set arbitrary weight goals. I want to weight 135 pounds. I want to lose 40 pounds. I want to be size 8.
Over the past year, I've really been examining whether or not those goals are a) realistic b) healthy and c) what I actually want. Truthfully, they're none of those things.
I'm tired of the constant fight with food, with clothes, with the ups and downs.
And so this year, I'm going to focus more on my overall HEALTH as opposed to my weight. I'll still (try to) eat an anti-inflammation diet, and some weight-loss might be a side effect of that, it's no longer going to be the main goal.
Mainly, I want to focus on how I want my body to function and the adventures I want to accomplish. I'm going to Australia in April - how do I do that flight with my back? How do I hike further and carry more weight in my pack? I want to go rafting. And try rock climbing and scrambling. And I want to be able to do those things in 30 years.
So I'm going to focus on building up strength and flexibility through activity (I'm never going to be a gym rat).
But really, though, fuck it. I want my hiking and my cheesecake, too.
What do you think? Comment below or email me here!
I'm sure many of you have seen the viral video of Amy Cooper calling the police on Christian Cooper, an African American bird-watcher who was enjoying the Bramble in New York earlier this week. She called the police because he asked her to put her dog on a leash (park rules). She says in the video, "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life." She tried to use this man's race as a weapon against him.
The outdoors is political, don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
When I first googled top 25 hiking blogs of 2019, I was really surprised. The first several sites that listed blogs included very few women and I didn’t visually identify (or see in the descriptions) any minorities. Or people with disabilities. Or Pride Pack members. Or fat people. Everyone looked very, very white.
I taught Diversity in America for quite a few years at several local colleges. I don't know why I was surprised at the lack of diversity in the online presence for outdoor adventures in the U.S., since there's a definitive lack of representation on trails.
When my friend told some co-workers he was going backpacking for the weekend, his African-American buddy responded along the lines of, “Only in America would white people go in to the woods and pretend to be homeless.”
It bothered me on a level that was difficult for me to define, because I view the outdoors as such an important part of who I am. It's a privilege. And privilege and access is a big part of the problem - because it isn't that way for everyone.
The Outdoor Foundation, who conducted a survey in 2013, found that 73% of participants in outdoor activities were white, and 47% had an income above $75K (You can read the entire report on their website here.).
And when whites in the U.S., on average, are the ones making that higher income, it's indicative of a problem and not just in relation to getting folks in to the great outdoors.
Who's involved matters, too - from how outdoor events and activities are marketed to who runs the parks programs, you'll see primarily white people. The Green 2.0 Report demonstrates a clear lack of diversity in the government agencies, foundations, and NGOs that oversee outdoors recreation and upkeep:
The world is a changing place, and it’s time for more outdoor activities, and the folks that are already involved in those activities, to change with it.
Race and ethnic minorities made up 40% of the U.S. population in 2016, and those numbers continue to increase. Consider the words of Teresa Baker, a contributor for The Bold Italic, when she wrote “The climate is changing, and so are the demographics of our country. What will happen when, in two to three decades, our new, non-white majority in the US doesn’t care about the environment due to a lack of involvement now?”
While I fit the definition of a Misfit Hiker & Adventurer for a number of reasons, I am, in fact, white. So I come at this, clearly, from a very different perspective. I'd like to note that I am not here to define for anyone else what experiences they should have in the outdoor world or how they should feel about those experiences and/or interactions.
However, what I can do, is try to make those outdoor spaces more welcoming. I can conduct and relate research in to different issues. And I can showcase others opinions, viewpoints, and experiences.
Misfit Hikers is about inclusion and representation, and you're going to find a lot of emphasis on how people access (or don't access) the outside world of adventuring. And what actions can be taken to address identified issues.
As a former teacher, I'm a big fan of education and considering other viewpoints - it forges a connection and helps shape how we view the world (and others).
My very small first action is to start gathering resources on different topics regarding inclusion and representation in the outdoors. You can find the start of my efforts here.
If you know of an article, website, Instagram, etc. that you'd like to see included, please comment! Or feel free to email me.
What happened to Christian Cooper shouldn't ever happen. As stewards of the outdoors we need to - have to - do better.
I need to be kind to my body. I have to remind myself of this more often than I care to admit. I often get frustrated by my limitations when I'm in the outside world. I want to hike further, explore new and more remote areas, and climb technically difficult summits.
And I can't always do that.
It's my back injury. I know that if I push too far, go too far, I'm going to end up in a lot of pain and unable to get back out there for weeks, maybe even months. And that's definitely not worth it.
I have to do things differently. I have to use lighter equipment. I have to make sure my boots have the right support. That my pack doesn't press in to certain areas of my back - 52 packs later and I finally found one!
I have to take breaks and do stretches throughout hikes, even shorter ones. I need to remember that high mileage hikes two days in a row may be a problem. Heck, even hiking two days in a row may cause a problem.
In other words - I need to be kind to my body.
Despite my frustrations, I need to remember to thank my body for what it CAN do. It CAN go on hikes, and take me to places I haven't seen, deep in to forests. And that there are people with able bodies that will never see the hidden, secret places I will.
And while I may have to take it slow and easy, that's just part of what makes it my journey.
So happy birthday to me - and my body.
And remember, be kind to yourself and your body.
Do you ever get frustrated with the limitations of your body? What do you do? Leave a comment below or contact me here!