Friday, February 5, 2016

Tumblring down Rocky Peak

Finding myself on a steep decline.

You can always tell how much I like a new walking/hiking site by how many Tumblrs I post of it the first time.

I've wanted to hike Rocky Peak Park for a while. I had read about it in the LA Times blog, LA Walks. The article compared it to Vasquez Rocks, which we adore. But I was always scared off by the difficulty rating of 4 out of a possible 5. The distance was also too far--3.5 miles.

Well, I realized that the hike could be as far as we wanted, since you have to double back, anyway. As for the difficulty, I have been getting a lot stronger lately.

We decided to chance it.

When we arrived, we quickly realized that Charles Fleming wasn't kidding about the rating. It is
difficult--our hardest hike yet. It's so steeeeep that the few flat overlooks along the way were welcome not only for the scenic vistas of the Santa Susana mountains, rock-encrusted peaks, and natural rock sculptures, but for the chance to catch my breath.
But I made it as far as the sandstone nooks and crannies of a fabulous wind cave, which Keith later remarked was probably a mistake because it was a bit dangerous for me to access. But I wouldn't have missed that cave for anything (see Tumblr).

I can't wait to go back!
A very rocky picnic.
I've been posting old pics from previous visits to our favorite locations. But since Rocky Peak park is a new favorite, here's a gif from our last visit to Vasquez Rocks. On that visit in March of 2015, I also tackled terrain that was on the edge of my capabilities. I dare say the Geology Trail will be a lot easier for me on our next visit!

Google Photos created this gif, It was so difficult for me to walk through that extremely narrow gap that Keith took a continuous stream of photos while I was doing it.

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.