Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Got A New Girl Now

Sunday, December 12

First Hike
Burkhart Trail

~1.5 mi total


No, not my first hike -- my new hiking buddy Rosie's first hike! And her first time walking on a leash, as a matter of fact! I was very pleased with how well she did. I'm also happy to report that despite her dog-in-training status (which makes her a dits), she is well on her way to being a lady -- she instinctively knows to step OFF the trail to potty! I still have splits in my fingers keeping me off the 'puter, so enjoy the pictures...


The newest member of the family.


So small! (Nine weeks old.)


Posing on the bench at the loop/Burkhart trail junction.


Come on, let's go!


Teaching her not to go over the edge!


A lovely walk on a beautiful winter's day.


Can you hear the water?




Okay, now SHE wants to rest! Didn't you just drag me away from the bench view?


No, really -- I'm just a little puppy. I can't go far!


Okay, I'll take a pano of the view while you rest.


She made it all the way to the water tank -- seven-tenths of mile.
Not bad for a little puppy!



The Punchbowl is a perfect place for any level of hiking...
and it was a good place for a baby's very first walk!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thankful

Sorry for not posting lately; I had a bit of a setback in that the toxicity from the chemotherapy got to be a little too much. We really don't want to kill me while we're trying to cure me! So I have had to focus very hard on surviving and helping my internal organs function.

What's worse, the toxicity resulted in the hand-foot syndrome, complete with painful blisters and fissures and deep splits. My fingertips were not spared, so I have been unable to type and communicate with the outside world via cyberspace. Frustrating!


I did receive my imaging results in November; everything is looking MIRACULOUSLY good. There are no leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) spots in the head, just the ones in the IAC that were ablated with Cyberknife. Everything is stable or improving; nothing is worsening and there are NO new spots.
HALLELUJAH!

My oncologist told me I am the first patient he has ever had (in his 40-yr career) that has IMPROVED after being diagnosed with LM. See, there is always hope!
So as you can guess, we had a very BLESSED day of Thanksgiving, grateful for all the good news.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

When I succeeded in climbing Mt. Whitney while fighting fourth-stage cancer, I thought it was one of the HARDEST things I've ever done. It is really hard to keep going when your entire body is rebelling and wants to quit, which of course has its parallels to fighting cancer. Now, two-plus years after climbing Whitney, I say fighting leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) is the hardest thing I have EVER done in life (and if you know me personally, you know it's been an adventurous life).

I haven't been posting much because each injection into the Ommaya reservoir has left me feeling ill afterward, much like flu symptoms. I usually start feeling better the afternoon before my next injection --- typical for us cancer patients, huh?! Start to feel better just in time for the next go-round.


Since Ommaya reservoirs are used frequently for childhood leukemia, my nurses who help with the injections into my cerebrospinal fluid via the O-res are pediatric oncology nurses. Because they usually work with scared, crying children, they have the BEST personalities and senses of humor. So having explained that, it should come as no surprise to you to learn they have named my O-res "Mr. Puffy." And it's a very fitting name, as he puffs up when we inject him!


Scientifically, what we have now done is inject Mr. Puffy with 5 mg, then 10 mg, then 20 mg over weekly appointments. I got to skip last week because of the holiday, so we did the 20 mg as a "double dose" the week beforehand. I wonder if we will do the same again this week, given that Thanksgiving is next week.
(Where the heck did the year go? I do not have many memories of 2010 at all; my short-term memory has been hampered significantly by the oft-mentioned "chemo brain.")

After each injection, I tend to fall asleep when I arrive home and sleep several hours. I usually feel a little stiff when I awaken. I'm able to sleep that night despite the nap, and when I awaken the next day, the stiffness has become body aches/pains; I'm nauseated; and I tend to have a headache. I feel like I'm "coming down with something" or fighting a bug.


And to me, that makes sense. For we *know* the drug we are injecting seeks out the cancer cells and parks on their receptors, which then flags the cell for my immune system. So of course my immune system should be turned on to fight the foreign body (the now-targeted cancer cell), which I would assume would make me feel like I'm fighting a bug or have a flu.


So the bottom line so far is that I feel like I have the flu for 6 out of 7 days every week. Beats the heck out of how bad the LM felt last April and May!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

: (

Funeral for a Friend


In Loving Memory
of my hiking buddy and best friend
Sarah
August 1, 2001 - November 7, 2010

She kept good watch over me through all the toxic chemotherapy;
surely there is a reward for her beyond the grave.



Her "baby" picture, September 2001.


Hiking the Burkhart Trail in July 2009.
"Whaddaya stopping to rest for?"


October 29, 2010.
Tried to take her picture after grooming,
but she would NOT hold still!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Pioneer's Experience

Blazing a Trail


HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!
Experimental intrathecal (monoclonal antibody protocol) treatment has begun!

Last week, I received the first of planned weekly
injections into the Ommaya reservoir in my head/brain ventricle. Although we are using a monoclonal antibody that has been found in all studies to be nontoxic, there remains a big risk of infection in the cerebrospinal fluid (causing meningitis) simply from having to puncture the reservoir and risk carrying in a tagalong virus or bacterium.

Doctors don't usually give injections, you know? But because of the need for the sterile field and risk of infection, the doctor gets to do the injection into the reservoir instead of the nurses. So with the able help of two oncology RNs, they established the sterile field and slowly filled the reservoir.

I just lay as still as I could. All I could feel was the sting of the needle in the scalp, then nothing until I could feel the cap of the reservoir become more rigid and push against the scalp as it grew convex from the fluid going in.


What was actually occurring was that CSF was first removed from the reservoir and saved for cytological testing. Then, a saline flush was done of the line, and a mere 5 mg of the monoclonal antibody was slowly injected into the reservoir. This drug will slowly exchange with my CSF over time. We are hoping gravity will get it to the spinal nerve roots in my lower back, at least until we can try getting some of the drug into me via a lumbar puncture.


Like with a lumbar puncture, the medical professionals kept checking to make sure I did not experience any headache or other issues; and had me remain lying down for another 30 minutes after the protocol was done. I really didn't feel anything, just the push against my scalp of the now more rigid, convex reservoir cap.


I was tired, however, which might have been due to a lower blood pressure that day. So once I arrived home, I immediately slept.


The next day, I awoke feeling cruddy, like flu symptoms. I was nauseated, had a headache, and felt a bit achy.

"Is that normal?" my caretaker asked.
"How would we know?" I replied.
"Can't you call and ask the doctor?" my caretaker urged.
"How would HE know?" I replied.
"Don't they have other patients? Hasn't he done this before?" my caretaker persisted.

Uh, NO. I'm the first one they've had for this protocol. Remember? That's why it took so long to arrange.

Yes, this protocol has only been done on a few people in the world and only in very recent times, so I'm on a course that has no well-trodden path to follow. We will all be learning together; hence, I have documented my experience(s) herein.


The next-day headache was familiar; I used to get headaches like this. It definitely was NOT like the headache from the LM; it felt just like a detoxification headache, as did the other symptoms. So I was convinced that the drug had gone to work immediately parking on the cancer cells, so my immune system was BUSY fighting to rid me of these unauthorized invaders. And consequently, I felt like I was fighting a little bug.


Later that night, however, I started to get a bit of a stiff neck. Uh-oh! I need to be vigilantly watching for signs of CSF infection (meningitis). I tracked my temperature that night and early morning; it was fluctuating as low as 95.9 deg (yes, my body was going hypothermic. I didn't like that reading, so I was relieved a few minutes later to see it had returned to above 96 deg).

By the next morning, it was reading a more normal 97.2. Whew!
I felt a bit better this second morning, too; although I still had a tad of flu symptoms. So I still believe that the monoclonal antibody has my immune system hard at work on clearing all the cancer cells out of the CSF.

I've had little energy and really have been sofa-bound, but it's clear to me I will survive until the next i.t. injection this week. Each injection gives me more ammunition with which to fight, and I can see clearly how to get to the cure---as long as everything goes JUST RIGHT...


Meanwhile, I've been entertaining myself with my newest hobby: guinea pigs! Wonder why I feel a kinship with them these days?






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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

It's Darkest Before the Dawn


It has now been six months (plus) since I was diagnosed with leptomeningeal metastasis (LM), and I'M STILL HERE!!! Furthermore, I've mostly enjoyed a good quality of life. But lately, the hardship of fighting cancer has been harder to take.


My central nervous system (CNS) is threatened by clumps of cancer cells floating in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in my brain and spine. I am at serious risk of having a stroke or suffering serious neurological problems (including death) caused by blockage of the CSF. I already have experienced episodes of losing some control of the lower part of my body, due to metastasis to the spinal nerve roots. So life's been kinda tough right now for me!

One of the hardest parts is this waiting...I KNOW the injection of this drug into the CSF is what I need, and need NOW; but I feel a bit like a high-school student who has spent a lot of time and money getting ready for the prom and is now nervously afraid I'm being stood up!

The neurosurgeon required I wait two weeks after surgery before using the new Ommaya reservoir in my head, which is now UP. So we have spent this time trying to get everything lined up to get the first injection, plus we have still been pressing forward on trying to arrange getting the injection via lumbar puncture. But it is proving to be much harder than we had hoped!

Finally---after working with numerous doctors, nurses, office staff, and my insurance company customer service these past weeks---I have an appointment for TOMORROW to receive the first intrathecal injection via the O-res!!!

I fully believe this treatment is going to prolong my life long enough, and beat back the LM, so that I can travel to Seattle and visit the Tumor Vaccine Group, where I believe I will receive the experimental therapy that will cure me once and for all.

In the meanwhile, I've been remaining as peaceful and unworried as possible, enjoying the stormy weather that surrounds me from the comfort of my sofa, confident I will again spend long days in the sun.






Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

The Ommaya Reservoir

Gratefully, I am now home recovering from surgery to place the Ommaya reservoir!

The reservoir tube is placed down into the ventricle, where the cerebrospinal fluid is.


Drugs can now be introduced directly into the cerebrospinal fluid by injecting them into the reservoir cap.


Ouch! Still, not bad (comparatively)!


I've had more energy and feel better than I did before the surgery, but I'm not sure it can be attributed to the trepanation!



Still Going!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Briefly

Okay, here is a brief update on a few things:

1. I am scheduled to have surgery to place the Ommaya reservoir in my head on October 6; I am expected to be released straight from ICU on October 7.

2. We are still trying to put together the logistics to do the intrathecal drug via lumbar puncture.

3. Since the hand-foot syndrome is caused by chemotherapy inflaming the small capillaries in the hands and feet, I opted to try using the EB Cellular Cleanse footbath to detox my feet. It's like it reset me; I'm not having the level of HFS/PPE that I was having before the footbath.

4. Oct 15 will be 3 months since my last imaging, so I expect we will be doing some and learning what my current status is.

5. I expect to be able to qualify for the clinical trial through the Tumor Vaccine Group in November, after I have my imaging results and have the intrathecal drug so I can drop one of the toxic chemotherapies.

Life is a little hectic these days as I juggle many duties while preparing for surgery!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Light

Okay, Here's The Plan...

I've been busy busy busy lately, studying every peer-reviewed research report I can to learn how I can best survive leptomeningeal metastasis. Then it took time trying to get to the right doctors to help me. My UCLA/JCCC doctor even got me an appointment with the doctor who discovered how to treat the subtype of cancer I fight(!), the man responsible for providing the ammo I've been using to manage fourth-stage cancer as a chronic condition rather than an immediate killer.

That doctor validated what my oncologists and I think is my best shot at long-term survival. So here's the two-part plan we've all put together to deliver the knockout punch once and for all:


First, we are going to introduce a drug directly ("intrathecally") into my cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The way that will be accomplished is through lumbar puncture (read: a spinal tap) and also via a type of catheter placed in my head called an Ommaya (oh-my-uh) reservoir.

This two-pronged (literally) introduction method is the best way to get the drug throughout the CSF to find any cancer cells "swimming" in the fluid or lining my central nervous system with a layer of cancer cells like icing ("zuckerguss").

I will have to undergo some (routine!) neurosurgery to place the reservoir before I can receive the drug in my head. I have an appointment at the end of this week with the neurosurgeon at the House Clinic in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, I'm forging ahead with trying to get the lumbar puncture done to get at least that first dose of drug in there.

The second part of our plan is to get me into a tumor vaccine study. I have been in contact with the Tumor Vaccine Group at the University of Washington in Seattle, and am pursuing enrollment in one trial that sounds like the answer I've been waiting---and fighting---to receive. I think the vaccine will solve this little cell replication problem for me once and for all!

This is a throwback to my days playing quarterback -- it's 3rd down and at least 10 to go, nearly game end, and I can see exactly how to reach the goal in two more plays---but it's gonna be hard and everything has to go JUST RIGHT for the whole entire team. I DO NOT WANT to end up in a Hail-Mary-pass situation, because the odds of success for that route are NOT GOOD.

So for me, I not only believe I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; I believe the light is NOT that proverbial train!

Here's looking forward to celebrating more birthdays!






Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Four Full Months

Palmar-Plantar What???

The infusion nurse asked me if I've been hiking lately. Sadly, the answer is "No"! Four full months of toxic chemotherapies have been cumulative, and I now feel poorly most of the time. Furthermore, I'm basically stuck on the sofa, thanks to a little side effect known as palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia. I know---palmar-plantar WHAT? Let's just call it by its common name, hand-foot syndrome. Although that honestly just doesn't begin to describe it!

I'm blessed in that this side effect is only a Grade 2 in me; Grade 3 is pretty nasty and forget Grade 4 --- you don't want to know. Grades 3 and 4 usually result in the patient having to discontinue the chemotherapy. But even at only Grade 2, walking is difficult.

First off, it feels like someone has beaten my hands and feet with a two-by-four for an hour. Every day. For the past four months. That's what the little descriptions mean about the unpleasant feeling/burning/tingling. Yeah. You know, they leave this stuff out of the brochures for a reason!

Second off, they are on FIRE.

Third, any pressure (like repetitive typing) causes my fingertips to blister.

Fourth, cracks (and I mean PAINFUL cracks) appear as if by magic shortly after I receive the chemotherapy. Cracks and peeling in my heels. Cracks, peeling, and blisters in the pad of the foot. Cracks and peeling in my finger joints. Cracks in my NOSE and EAR even! AARGGH!

So here's what I'm doing for relief:

Nose: Salt-water flush (or neti pot) followed by swabbing the sores with hydrogen peroxide and Aquaph*r ointment.

Ear: Swabbing the cracks with hydrogen peroxide and Aquaph*r ointment.

Hand/finger cracks: Applying Aquaph*r ointment followed by liquid bandage.

Feet blisters/peeling/cracks: Monoi Tiare with iodine followed by Flexit*l Heal Balm and sometimes Aquaph*r ointment

And here's what I've found on how to put that FIRE in the feet out:

HOW TO USE HENNA TO TREAT HFS/PPE


MAKE IT
1/4 cup water
1/8 cup henna powder
A squirt of lemon juice

Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add the henna slowly and stir until it is like cream of tomato soup. You will probably use about 1/8th of a cup. Add a squirt of lemon juice. Let it cool. (If you already have cracks, skip the lemon juice. It will sting.)

APPLY IT
Cover a work area with plastic bags or an old towel (henna stains). Paint a thin layer on your bare feet and hands. Use a foam or paint brush to apply it.

LET IT DRY
It takes up to 15 minutes to dry. You can rinse it off or put socks on and leave it until your next shower.


And believe it or not, that remedy is rooted in peer-reviewed research:

Invest New Drugs. 2008 Apr;26(2):189-92. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

Topical henna for capecitabine induced hand-foot syndrome.

Yucel I, Guzin G.

Department of Medical Oncology, Ondokuz Mayis University Medical School, Samsun 55139, Turkey.

Abstract

Capecitabine is a chemotherapeutic drug for use in cancers. Hand-foot syndrome (HFS) is side effect of capecitabine which can lead the cessation of the therapy or dose reduction. Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a traditionally used plant of Middle-East that is applied on hands and feet. Some of cancer patients in capecitabine treatment who developed HFS, we recommended to apply henna. In these patients, six patients were grade 3 HFS and four were grade 2 HFS. Complete response (CR) were seen in four of grade 3 HFS and all of grade 2; two grade 3 HFS improved to grade 1. So far, in the chemotherapy, there was no need of dose reduction and also no side effect of henna seen. Clinical improvement in these patients may relate to anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic effects of henna. Prospective studies are needed to show this therapeutic effect of henna.


Anyway, I made it four full months before the toxic chemotherapies caught up with me enough to lay me a bit low for a little while. But one way or another, I'm still going!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Do You Believe?

The Miraculous


I just knew those doctors were telling me past history, not my current story! So here's the answer to our prayers regarding the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: for the first time in my oncologist's 40-year career, he saw someone with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (metastasis to the brain and spine via the cerebrospinal fluid; referred to as LM) improve: ME!


The latest imaging shows there is now no more LM in the head; there are only the two lesions that we ablated with Cyberknife stereotatic radiosurgery, and they are diminishing as expected as the body carries away the ablated matter. One went from 6 x 3 x 3mm to 5 x 1 x 1mm, which they consider to be a significant decrease. My facial muscles and hearing are not yet restored, but I’m still experiencing fluctuations and am hopefully praying for complete restoration.


I was supposed to start whole-brain radiation this week, but those results SPARED me from that barbarism! I KNEW the Lord's report would be significantly better than the doctors’ words, and this imaging report is proof positive.


The LM in the spine is diffuse, so they can't really use Cyberknife on it. So I was supposed to start spinal radiation this week as well, but the newest imaging shows SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT (again, for the first time my oncologist has ever seen) in the spine, including the spots that most threatened my mobility. So I am declining to do radiation.


The latest imaging results also allow me to avoid having brain surgery to put a reservoir in my brain to infuse very toxic chemotherapy.


So having made the rounds of all my doctors, it's official: I have miraculously clinically, radiologically, and neurologically IMPROVED. I happily peeled off all the radiation Xes because it's not necessitated at this time -- what we are doing is WORKING! THIS IS HUGE HUGE HUGE in the medical world!


Now I’m waiting to gain entrance to the dream team of doctors who are on the Stand Up to Cancer team. I think the newest doctor is going to be a perfect fit for me: this is the guy I’m supposed to see. And I believe not only is he the right guy, I'm the right patient/resource in the right place at the right time. I can see now the light at the end of the tunnel; cancer is FINISHED and we will prove it in this time.


I'm presently still dealing with chemotherapy side effects, so I am way behind on things. I still want to get up the trail report from our Kearsarge Pass trip! Meanwhile, I use the times I'm too miserable to sleep to take pictures of the sunrise... LIFE IS (still) GOOD!


Click on picture to see larger photograph.
Especially if you want to see the Aquaduct gleaming.









The start of another perfect day!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the UGLY

I saw the newest members of the team, the neurosurgeon at the House Clinic in L.A. and the radiology oncologist at Cyberknife in Pasadena, last week. Here's what I got out of it---the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good

The dr says the person sitting before him does not match (defies) the imaging. He says whatever I'm doing, to keep on doing it! He will focus on treating my symptoms, not my imaging. He was clearly amazed, as the norm is only a downhill slide, not improvement like I'm seeing.

The Bad

  • Nothing we can do to regain the hearing or the facial nerves, although he does encourage me to continue exercising my facial muscles the way I've been doing.
  • I need to see an ophthalmologist regarding the left eye, because of both the cerebral nerve issue and the inflammation of the cornea the chemo drug causes. Also, my vision has deteriorated and needs assessment.
  • I have to do another lumbar puncture (spinal tap). I knew that was coming; standards of care require we repeat it until we have 1 positive or 3 negatives. (So far I've had one negative.)
  • The imaging shows the cancer in the spine is mostly diffuse cells ("zuckerguss"), so Cyberknife is not appropriate at this time. (It should be saved for "salvage treatment" if other treatments are not successful in beating it back.) I will have to undergo radiation to the spine (in sections). In particular, there is a very dangerous issue at T5/T6 that threatens my mobility. (Read: can put me in a wheelchair)
  • The tumor panel in LA is still recommending intrathecal infusion of chemotherapy (typically methotrexate) via an Ommaya reservoir implanted into the brain to deal with the leptomeningeal carcinomatosis and cancer cells in the cerebral spinal fluid. (I instead want to explore a very experimental option.)

The Ugly

The prognosis remains nothing but grim. With treatment, surviving 6 months is the norm. Good thing I've never been mistaken for normal, huh! Statistically, 15% make it one year. So far, no such thing as anyone surviving for years.

Since the cancer I fight is a rarer form, and Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis is so rare a complication, I did ask how many patients he's treated that have this same diagnosis. Answer: One, and it did not go well. : (

OK, so now there's me! I'm up for pushing the envelope, but I wish the prognosis weren't so grim. But the only antidote for dying is living, so you know what I did after I got all this news -- I went backpacking!

So I'm WAY behind now; I still have to finish the Mt Islip photos and TR and now I have a TON of beautiful pics from climbing Kearsarge Pass out of Onion Valley in the Eastern Sierras this past weekend. So stay tuned -- I'm still here, and I'm still going, and I'll have more posted as soon as I get a break from all these doctor appointments!


Panorama of the view from Kearsarge Pass.
Inyo National Forest to the left; Kings Canyon National Park to the right.



DH admires the view of "the other side": Kearsarge Pinnacles and Kearsarge Lakes. Amazing!


Monday, June 14, 2010

ANF Reopened Areas

Hiking in Our "Backyard" Available Again

I've been working on another trail report about climbing Mt. Islip that will appear BELOW this post when I complete it. In the meanwhile, as you can tell by my recent post(s), the USFS has reopened certain parts of the Angeles National Forest (after the devastating and deadly Station Fire last year) for the summer.

The map on their website is AWFUL; the resolution is lousy to the point of making the map worthless to us hikers. I thought I'd post this map that appeared in the local newspaper so you can better see what is open.

The written orders show the closure boundary is the north side of 3N17, so I'm sure that means the Santa Clara Divide Truck Trail will be closed for a lo-o-o-ong time west of the Rosenita Saddle/Mount Hilyer area.
: (

The only thing to the west that has reopened is the Magic Mountain Wilderness Area end of 3N17 near Sand Canyon (Saugus).

Although campgrounds such as Bandido and Chilao are open, the Visitor's Center at Chilao Flats remains closed. And of course, Hwy 2 is only open from Wrightwood to Red Box Road by Mount Wilson; Angeles Forest Highway is only open between Big Tujunga and Sierra Highway.

Still, there are plenty of (unburned) areas we can now access, so I'm sure we will be able to stay busy exploring "our backyard" this summer! We've already been out there having fun since Memorial Day and are planning more adventures. Enjoy!


Click on map to see larger version.

The Angeles National Forest is my "backyard."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

FINALLY Bagged Another Summit!

Saturday, June 5, 2010
National Trails Day

Mt. Islip
8250' elevation
~2.5 mi roundtrip
~1000' gain (avg 15% grade)


This was a very pleasant hike with a grade more gentle than we are accustomed to doing. I woke up with a pulled muscle in my lower back, but I was determined to go so I just slapped on a kidney belt to help support and stabilize the lower back.

DH, my hiking buddy, and the Brown Dirt Cowboy joined me as support crew. We started out on Highway 2 below Windy Gap, followed a use trail up to Windy Gap, then headed over to Mt. Islip. It was our first look at the Crystal Lake Recreational Area since it was ravaged by wildfire several years ago (8?). When we were done summiting, we met up with a recent college graduate hiking the PCT alone and gave her a ride to the Punchbowl to meet her friends. When I find my trail notes, I'll write more!




Hot rock penstemon.


Close up.


The Brown Dirt Cowboy overlooking the San Gabriel River from Highway 2.


Same site (pano stitch); still-snowcapped Mt. Baldy on the left and Mt. Baden-Powell on the right.


Double waterfall along Highway 2.


The shortcut to Windy Gap off Highway 2.


Snow patches, right off the bat.
Good thing my hiking buddy finally got some trekking poles!



Approaching Windy Gap on the use trail from Highway 2.


Our first look at the devastation/restoration in the Crystal Lake area (after a 2002 wildfire).


Windy Gap: The Pacific Crest Trail heading east; Bump 8426' ahead.
You can peak-tag all the way to Baden-Powell from here --- heading UPHILL!



Windy Gap: The Pacific Crest Trail heading west northwest toward Little Jimmy Campground to the right; Mt. Islip trail heading west to the left.


Windy Gap: Time to shuck the packs, take a bite of jerky, and enjoy the breeze before moving on!


Windy Gap: Stark, weathered tree.


Small plants.


Junction #2: looking up the Mt. Islip trail (right) and back toward Windy Gap (left). (Trail to Little Jimmy Springs behind photographer.)


Crystal Lake (zoom). We actually could see all the way to San Gabriel Reservoir!


Overlooking Bear Canyon again, only this time from the east side!


The towers on Mt. Wilson (zoom).


Looking toward the northwest. We climbed to Bump 8214' on Mt. Williamson last Monday.


Mt. Islip's peak: so close and still so far away!


Junction #3: Islip Ridge Trail to the left; Mt. Islip to the right.


The "last little bit"!


Still going...thanks to the extra support for my lower back!


Gotta grab a little bit of shade before we hit the summit...


Our first glimpse of the old cabin as we round the corner to the summit.


I made it! I KNEW I hadn't seen my last summit!


At the summit, looking from the south to the north.


A flutterby was our only company on the summit.


The summit of Mt. Islip.



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