An Uphill Climb Toward the Cure

An Uphill Climb Toward the Cure
Jan 15, 2009 by Pamela Mett

Thank You - We Did It!

On Monday, May 18th, the alarm clock woke me at 3:30AM (after maybe 3 hours of sleep). After a minor challenge trying to feed the tube of my hydration bladder through the opening in the backpack in my sleep-deprived state, I stumbled down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast with my hike group. I managed to down some oatmeal and half a banana to ensure I started the hike with some fuel. We loaded on to the shuttle bus and started down the Bright Angel Trail at 5:10AM, just before the sun rose. This was my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon - what a way to start the day!

We made good progress on the way down and shed our extra layers before we reached the 1.5 mile rest house. By 8:30AM we had reached Plateau Point, our turn-around for the hike. The first view of the Colorado at the point was absolutely amazing; the color of the water was a beautiful blue-green. We spent 20-30 minutes enjoying our surroundings and taking pictures before beginning the return trip. On the way back to Indian Gardens (4.5 miles from the rim), we passed another hike group with 4 members of our Georgia hike team and had a mini-reunion on the trail. We stopped for lunch at Indian Gardens, where we had an opportunity to take our boots off and dip our feet in the cool water. We left about 10:30 for the 4.5 mile ascent back to the rim.

We covered the first 1.5 miles up Jacob's Ladder in about an hour; the heat was quickly working its way to about 102 in the shade (of which there wasn't much). I confess that I was trailing the group and happy to reach the 3 mile rest house where I could recharge in the shade. (Sign at 3 mile rest house) The next 1.5 miles was just as tough as the sun was relentless. I took breaks at just about any spot on the trail that offered a bit of shade. Our phenomenal guide, Maryanne, carried a spray bottle of water and "spritzed" us on a regular basis. Good fortune came our way at the 1.5 mile rest house in the form of cloud cover for the last part of our ascent. The temperatures also started to drop as we climbed closer to the rim. Our hike group reached the rim at 3:30PM, approx 10 hours since our pre-dawn start. We celebrated with ice-cold beers and prickly pear margaritas in the El Tovar hotel lounge.

All total, the Grand Canyon Team In Training hikers raised over 1.4 million dollars for LLS (20+ chapters over 3 different hike days). Thanks to all of your support, I was the #2 fundraiser for the May 18th hike groups. That's a lot of dollars toward research and patient programs. So I close with a final Thank You to my amazing and generous group of supporters and our rally cry: GO TEAM!!!


For more pictures, link to Pam's Grand Canyon Photo Album


My Personal Connection

For those of you who are not familiar, I lost my Mom , Kathy Blowen, 17 years ago to Leukemia. While she was undergoing treament, she kept her positive attitude by walking the halls of the hospital. After 2 rounds of chemotherapy, we enjoyed the summer with her while she was in remission. The picture here was taken that summer when the family gathered to celebrate Independence Day. When one of her brothers was determined to be a bone marrow match, we were all hoping for a positive outcome. Prior to the bone marrow transplant, she underwent total body irradiation, which left her with radiation burns on her feet. Walking the halls was no longer an option. The inability to walk was the final mental defeat of the cancer, which took her from us shortly thereafter. In honor of her memory, I have joined up with the Team in Training program to hike the Grand Canyon. Putting my good health to work to continue taking those important steps to a cure is my tribute to her.

Our Team Hero

In addition to my personal hero, I am also hiking in honor of our team hero, Annabelle, an adorable 4 year old with a twin sister who was recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Annabelle loves Barbie dolls, so our team is hiking with twin Barbies every week that we will eventually present to Annabelle and her sister.

Training Update

Week 15:

Our final Group Training hike before the big finale! Once again we tried for Springer Mountain, but the unpredictable spring storms moved us to the original plan of Stone Mountain. The good news was I got to sleep an hour later :-) Our team captain took all our trekking poles to check in one bag, so no trekking pole sword fights to amuse us on the plane. I'll post one final update after I return from our victorious trip (and figure out how to link to all the pictures I plan to take).

Week 14:

We were supposed to hike Springer Mountain, starting at the summit and hiking down and back up to simulate the Canyon experience, but the weather predictions were not in our favor, so we spent a humid morning at Kennesaw where we weren't in danger of getting caught too far from shelter if a storm popped up.

Week 13:

Our warmest day yet - in the mid 80's - so my pack was heavy with full water containers. We hiked north on the AT from Unicoi Gap to Tray Mountain, primarily steep ups & downs. The first section from the parking area climbs 1000 ft up Rocky Mountain in 1.3 miles and then drops back down just as far before the climb to Tray Gap. We enjoyed lunch at Tray Gap with a beautiful overlook. We met a Boy Scout troop as we were heading back, which required a long explanation as to why we were hiking with Ken dolls (Barbie needs some friends, after all). The hike back up Rocky Mt felt even steeper on the return - one of those "remember why you're doing this" moments. I started to think about how amazing it's going to feel when I take that final step back onto the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Only 2 more group hikes left before the big day.

Week 12:

Spectacular weather for a spectacular setting. Our training hike started from the top of Amicalola Falls. We began by hiking down and back up the steps that run from the base to the top of the falls - all 604 steps (about 40 flights worth). We then hiked out 5.5 miles to the Len Foote Hike Inn where we enjoyed a picnic lunch with a beautiful view. After the return trip to the top of the falls, a couple of us hiked the East Ridge Trail back down and then hiked back up the 604 steps. All said and done, about 12 miles for week 12.

Week 11:

I took Thursday off from work to hike with one of my teammates. We took some bumpy, gravel forest roads to the trail head and hiked 1 mile to the summit of Springer Mountain - the Southern terminus of the AT and then headed back north on the AT for about 9 miles to Hightower. It was a beautiful spring day, hiking along a creek with rhododendrons alongside the trail and a number of cascading waterfalls. Our group hike stayed closer to home since it was Easter weekend. We went to Kennesaw Mountain and put in about 7 miles that included 2 ascents of the Mountain. The volunteers doing trail maintenance were a little tired of seeing us pass through.

Week 10:

After a little confusion on the location of the trailhead, we got a late start on the AT from Unicoi Gap south. We did about 10 miles; I kept waiting for my second wind, but I'm not sure I ever had a first wind! Lots of pesky flies and the first time it was warm enough to drain my water supply. No more days off from training for me...

Week 9:

Our group hike got canceled (we didn't want to get caught in a thunderstorm out on the AT). Probably just as well since I spent the week fighting a cold & the high pollen count.

Week 8:

Another day on the AT - no rain this week, but there was a cold breeze (and I left my gloves at home). A little over 10 miles (5 miles out and back) from Neels Gap. We made it to the "rock" where we turned around the previous week. My pack was a little heavier than I would have liked (I let Chris fill my hydration bladder), but probably good practice for the Grand Canyon. Tonight is our recommitment party. One of these days I need to find time to add some more pictures to my updates...

Week 7:

We hit the Appalachian Trail (in the rain) this week. Completed about 10 miles (5 miles out and back) from Woody Gap. It was still dark & pouring rain when I left for the hike. Fortunately the rain let up by the time we started hiking, so we only had light showers to deal with for about 25% of the hike, but it was definitely muddy. Encountered several through hikers just getting started on their AT journey. There may have been some nice overlooks, but all we saw was fog.

Week 6:

I have to confess to taking a week off; while my teammates were hiking 9 miles on Kennesaw Mountain, I was sitting on my behind watching the US Davis Cup team kick some Swiss butt in Birmingham, AL. I did use the stairs in the parking structure and did a 45min "trailblazer" treadmill workout at the hotel, so I wasn't completely lazy!

Week 5:

I am adding this update on what would have been mom's 71st birthday. This weekend was the all sport training session with the marathon, triathlon, cycling, and adventure race teams. It was a rainy morning that started with a timed "silent" mile in Atlanta. About halfway through, we went through a large puddle that soaked cold rain water through our shoes and socks. At that moment, I made full use of the "silent" meditation time to remember why I was running through the rain in soggy shoes, early on a Saturday morning - to make sure others will have the opportunity to celebrate their 71st birthdays with their friends & family.

Week 4:

This week we hiked Stone Mountain - we started with a 5.5 mile hike around the mountain on a cool but sunny morning and then for an encore we hiked up the mountain and back down for a total of about 7 miles. I'm not much for afternoon naps, but I confess to being tired after Saturday's efforts.

Week 3:

A nicer than expected day on Red Top Mountain. We saw a couple of deer and hiked some good rolling miles up & down. First week in my new hiking boots and carrying my new backpack.

Week 2:

A gorgeous day in Sweetwater Creek State Park. I contributed new outfits for the Barbies that we hike with in honor of Annabelle. I'll try to add a picture of the "girls".

Week 1:

This was the first day meeting the other members of our team. We are a team of about 18 hikers that will train for the next 4 months in preparation for our big day at the Grand Canyon. A cold day on Sawnee Mountain - we hiked over some icy patches in the trail, but the day was clear and offered some beautiful vistas. Looking forward to exploring different mountains in the area over the next months of training.

Your Opportunity to Help

While I'm training in the North Georgia mountains, I am raising funds to help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to support their mission to cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients like Annabelle and their families. Now that I better understand the full effort of the training ahead of me, I have decided to raise my personal fundraising goal to $6500. This is the equivalent of $1.00 for every foot of elevation change that I will hike in the Grand Canyon on May 18th. A minimum of 75% of every dollar raised goes directly to fund research and patient programs and donations are 100% tax deductible.

Please consider making a donation to support my participation in Team In Training to help bring cancer patients hope and support. Every dollar makes each step I take in the Grand Canyon count and brings us one step closer to a cure.

If you prefer to send a check, please make it payable to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or LLS and send to my address: Pam Mett, 115 McBride Ct, Roswell, GA 30075

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My Fundraising Total

Raised: $8,803.00 | Goal: $6,500.00
 
135 %

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In Memory of

Kathy Blowen

My Thanks To

Ciena Corporation  
Elliott McCullough  
Christopher Pease  
Elizabeth Rood  
Karen Geiger  
Keith Barringer  
Carrie Haydel  
Ciena Corporation  
Merrill Lynch  
Marlene Sidon  
Kyle Conn  
Donald Filer Masterson  
Veronica Pridemore  
Daniel Arden  
James Bullard  
Peter Vanstrom, DDS  
Stephen Navarra  
Edward Collins  
Kerry Lee Inc  
Mary Garlick  
Mary Pilch  
Glenn Mowry  
Robin Golding  
Kay Hughes  
Richard DeCarli  
J H MacGlashin  
Brandt & Lyn Fifer  
Charles Daram  
Laurie Ortolano  
CIENA Corporation  
David Hyman  
John Callaham  
Anita Weeks  
Stephen Rubio  
Jack Harmon  
Linda Ryan  
Linda Caulkins  
Douglas Belew  
James Costin  
Terri Morganti  
Regan Varenhorst  
David Stanton  
Iwan Kartawira  
Leonard Packtor  
Stephanie and Joe Hudkins  
Mickey Register  
Doug Nicoletti  
CIENA Corporation  
Richard Fraley  
Shelly Brownell  
First Street Dental  
Charles Masterson  
John Moody  
Vern Rollins  
Gregory Block  
Gail Cameron  
Susan Koski  
Raymond King  
Pediatric Associates, PC  
Don & Eileen Schuster  
John Hutts  
Sylvia Birt  
Wesley Tokushige  
Michael Hallal  
P P Stutts  
John Heard, III  
Kent Cooper  
Elizabeth Nunnally  
Melvin Patch  
Timothy Oconnor  
Robert Epperson  
Gwen Pilsch  
Atherton Ryan  
JoAnn Hunter  
Cliff Smith  
John Ross  
Kris Baldwin  
nancy solomon  
Mark Kirkley  
Gwili Beckloff  
Elizabeth L Miller  
Maura Scully  
Lisa Andrews  
Matthew Becker  
Mildred Wolfe  
Todd Hecker  
Lee Ivy  
George Sliney  
Mohamad Amirkalali  
Randal Avey  
Laura Gredys and Thomas M...  
Berti & orlando  
Goran  
Ruth Sottnick  
Sarah Pressly-James  
John, Paige, Sean, & Sara...  
Kim Pipes  
Dad & Jackie  
John Stauffer  
An old HS friend  
Pam, Chris & Thomas