Shanty Hollow

Tuesdays have been designated for Readin’, Ritin’ & Rithmetic. Today, I add another “R” — Road Trip … and since I’m ‘ritin’ I guess it falls under the category.

While ordered to be sheltered in place, Kentucky is allowing exercise ventures as long as appropriate social  distance is maintained. So I have been taking advantage of the reprieve.

Angelina and I decided to visit Shanty Hollow Lake a couple of weekends ago. The lake — actually a reservoir in northern Warren County. It includes a 1.3 mile rocky trail to a 150 foot waterfall.

It was a beautiful day for a walk — but remind me again why I did this?

Hiking is not particularly forte. I’ve done it a few times — at Taughannock State Park in upstate New York … one of the Tumbledown Mountain trails in western Maine … the Three Dunes while vacationing in Indiana. The key here is twofold. I usually do not dress appropriately {shorts and sneakers don’t lend themselves to rocky trails}. I never think about bringing water to stay hydrated. Yeah, four times and nary a water bottle in sight. The last couple of adventures were compounded by the fact I ventured out alone … no hiking buddy.

The latest round trip to the falls took about four hours. I’d like to say most of it was sightseeing, but the truth is about 45 minutes was spent sitting on a log resting when dehydration led to a drop in blood pressure. Technically {I  learned this after the fact}, the episode was categorized as a vasovagal syncope episode. In this situation, the balance between the chemicals adrenaline and acetylcholine is disrupted. Adrenaline stimulates the body, including making the heart beat faster and blood vessels narrower, thereby increasing blood pressure. Acetylcholine does the opposite. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, excess acetylcholine is released, the heart rate slows and the blood vessels dilate, making it harder for blood to defeat gravity and be pumped to the brain. This temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain causes a fainting episode.

Actually, I never actually fainted. As I was walking back to the parking light, I first started to notice the white clothes my fellow travelers wore {I always let them by} dominated my vision. The whites just overshadowed the rest of my vision. Then I started to feel a little dizzy and lightheaded. But, in my defense, I recognized something wasn’t quite right, spotted a fallen log, and spent about the next 45 minutes or so sitting on the log just resting  and taking deep breaths. Angelina just laid down next to me, resting herself.

While just sitting there, I plotted my next move. Well, generally, it was to do nothing. I didn’t have cell service. I didn’t think I had too far to go to get to the parking lot. I even considered continuing on. Instead of the path, there was the lake about 10 feet down a gradual slope so I pondered whether I should take that route rather than the path. Hey, I figured if I passed out I could roll into the lake But I couldn’t convince my body to move.

The path included a short dip — about six or seven feet — across a rock studded creek, then back up the other side, continuing along a winding trail. Just behind the bend was the welcome sight of the parking lot.

People were great. Families hiked together, almost all of them saying hi and checking on me while I rested — within the six foot social distance rule.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I did make it to the falls, although I ended up on a flat rock over the grotto. I was tempted to venture a little closer, but from my vantage point, I would have had to climb down a rock ledge — a feat with the dog and a walking stick {cane} — or backtrack to the lower trail along the river bank. I opted to head back to the car.

The trails were rocky with a lot of exposed tree roots which helped with the footing. But they were relatively wide and very picturesque. There were some people in hammocks along the river. There were kayaks and canoes in the lake and river. There were families by the waterfall, some cooling off under the gentle spray. And it was picturesque. Trees were starting to bloom. The water was soothing. The waterfall wasn’t wildly cascading, but steadily spilling from the upper river to the lower pool.

My kids — especially my daughters — asked what I was thinking. The easy answer is I wasn’t. Then they asked if I learned my lesson.

I thought for a day or two. Probably not!

It wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. –Confucius

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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