Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hike 2011.006a -- Eaton Canyon

This one doesn't count as an official hike since it was definitely less than three miles. Probably 1.5 miles roundtrip.

Today started out lousy. I had a doctor's appointment at 10:45am, and, because they would be drawing blood again, I had to fast. I caught myself snacking a little last night about 10:30pm, then stopped eating when I realized how late it was.

Got to my appointment a few minutes late, and was greeted by a pretty full waiting room. I sat in the waiting room until around noon. Then they called me and and weighed me. That was followed by at least another 20-30 minutes of waiting.

By the time I got home, it was about 2pm. And I was STARVING. I ate my lunch and looked at the mail. It included a card from the USPS telling me they a certified letter from my health insurance company. I'm pretty sure that'll be them informing me that my COBRA coverage ends on Monday, but when I swung by the post office after lunch, the mail carrier wasn't back, yet, so they didn't have my letter. Grumble.

Headed off for my hike after that. Decided on Eaton Canyon because I wanted to ask someone there about their docent training class. That part of the day was successful, at least. Got my information, and know when to show up for the orientation and overview of the "training" class, and what the fee is ($45).

For me, I'm looking at this as either something I'll start volunteering for if I remain unemployed, or a chance to learn a little about the local plants and wildlife that will let me appreciate my hikes even more, employed or not.

Then I headed up Eaton Canyon. With only about 90 minutes of daylight left, I wasn't expecting much. But I did hope to at least make it some ways up the Toll Road so I could enjoy the sunset on my return leg.

Slowly made my way along the start of the trail, where bush sunflowers are growing and blooming like the wildflowers they are. Nice, soft light on them, too. Took a lot of pictures and continued along my way.

After about ten minutes of this, my phone rang. Long story short, I was a little annoyed at having to sacrifice even more of my day to something that was pretty low on MY list of priorities, but was a higher priority for someone else. This person also called on my drive home, and put me in an even worse mood. Grumble, some more.

But that's not why you read this blog. I'm just explaining why today's hike was so short. By the time the phone foolishness was over, it was about 4:40pm. Well, no longer time for an actual hike, so I just crossed the water and wandered along the trail some.

On the east side of Eaton Canyon there are several side canyons that drop steeply towards the wash. Three of them are named. The third one is Walnut Canyon. That's the one the "horse trail" or "shortcut" to the toll road heads out of.

The first one is Moist Canyon. That one enters Eaton Canyon below (downstream, or south) of where the main trail crosses the stream.

The one in the middle is Coyote Canyon. I'm pretty sure that's the one I was in, although there are no longer any signs indicating this.

Parts of this trail are right up a dry, sandy wash. After about 1/5th of a mile of leaving the main trail, the canyon more or less dead ends at a steep head. Going further would require some serious scrambling, at the very least.

If I were to go hiking here during or shortly after a rain, there'd be a nice flow of water coming down (and, I suspect, a fair chance of a sudden, deadly mud flow!). Sometimes, I think this area also has a hanging gardens look to it. Today, it looked like a hanging garden that needs more water.

So I turned around and worked my way back. Along the way, I enjoyed the lengthening rays of sunlight turning the upper sections of the canyon orange. I also enjoyed a brief view of the downtown skyscrapers. Clearly, you gain enough altitude heading up Coyote Canyon to see out of Eaton Canyon wash and towards downtown.

Despite my many trips into Eaton Canyon, this was the first time I explored one of the side canyons. It was enjoyable, if a little too brief.
Some assorted bits of good news for me, mostly concerning my recent doctor visits and job search. Regarding the doctor visits, I discovered my weight is annoyingly close to what it was last year. That's the bad news. The good news is that my blood pressure has dropped dramatically. In fact, the medical technician who took my blood pressure wrote down the numbers (100/68, I think she said), compared it to my reading from a year and a half ago, asked if I was taking anything to lower my blood pressure, then decided she needed to check my blood pressure again (from my other arm), because the improvement seemed impossibly great without medical intervention.

Turns out it was real. All this hiking hasn't affected my weight much (I'm just eating more!), but it has put me in better shape. That, or maybe my last few months on my last job were just really stressful. Either way, that's good news for my health.

More good news is that all my cultures came back negative. Also, I still have no fever and no lingering and mysterious muscle aches, so I'm pretty sure I'm in the clear.

Bad health news is I need to have another ultrasound down on my liver because my liver function is still abnormal. That's probably a result of my overly fatty diet. So I scheduled the ultrasound for tomorrow afternoon (COBRA expiring, remember), so I have another long fasting period tomorrow, and another loss of time sitting in a medical building.

On the job front, I got some semi-good news (meaning better than the alternative). I've probably mentioned I'm seeking (among other things) government work, and the process there is incredibly bureaucratic. Well, there were a couple of written civil service exams I took last month. Got the results via e-mail this evening. I passed both. Yay. :D

For one, there's now another step, which they're calling a "performance evaluation." I'm not sure what that is, but I think it'll be an oral exam, involving mock data and an oral presentation on the data. That date and time is yet to be set.

On the other exam, I scored in the top tier. That means that if a job opening occurs in the job category in the county, I am guaranteed of an interview. Of course, there are probably dozens of other people in that category, too. In some state tests I've taken, there are 500 people or more in the top tier. For this one, it's a new job category, so I assume there are no more than a few dozen in the top category. That still means there are a lot of other people besides me who qualify, and none of us get a job if there's no hiring being done. I'm already in the top tier of a few other job categories (and was in the top tier of an other category), but am obviously still unemployed and, for several job categories, have yet to even get an interview. But, as I said, passing and being in the top tier is better than the alternative.

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