Sam Bauman: Spring is hiking and sun time
Spring has arrived with temperatures finally reaching the 70s around Carson City, so seniors along with others will be enjoying the outdoors. Hiking is one of the most beneficial of exercises and it has rewards of seeing the annual renewal of nature. Spring can be a renewal of the enjoyment of life.
After winter months of being cooped up, the time now is to start enjoying what Nevada has to offer. From mountains to valleys, it’s all out there and mostly free for the doing.
I’m currently in therapy for loss of balance, hence my poor skiing season.
But I’m doing it because I’m looking forward to tracing the hike at Dead Man’s Creek just opposite Washoe Lake Park. It’s labeled as “moderately” demanding by park rangers and that’s pretty accurate.
To get to the trail head take Eastlake Boulevard out of Carson City until just before the entrance to the park is parking space for perhaps three cars. Stop there. On the uphill side, you’ll find some ranger signs noting that Dead Man’s Creek is about a mile uphill trek; that there are snakes around; and that the current trail replaces the old one no longer maintained. (Never saw any snakes in the years I’ve hiked there.)
The trail leads over a small wooden bridge over the creek, usually running except in dry spells. The trail splits quick — the left branch going along the highway for about 100 yards and ending at the ranger station. If you take this branch spend some time at the station, lots of pamphlets about the lake and photos.
Take the right branch which passes the creek on the right and follow it to where it splits again. Go straight and you wind up at a wildlife viewing area. Go right uphill at the fork, following the well-marked trail.
It’s about another half-mile to the gazebo at the end of the trail. Back at the gazebo you will enjoy a view of Washoe Lake, these days pretty full and almost overflowing the highway. Across the lake is a line of mountains which for centuries have been shedding rock dust, creating a series of sand dunes along the lake’s shore (a nice hike when one has time).
Take photos here and if you have a lunch with you try the gazebo seats and gaze on Mt. Rose. Or just sit and enjoy the sun. Sunscreen may be helpful (see below) if the sun is out.
Returning can be via the way you came up, but if you want a change take the trail to the left of the gazebo. It’s the old trail and is not maintained, and a hiking stick comes in handy here. Where the name Dead Man’s Creek came from, you could ask the rangers.
Exposure to sun runs risk of skin cancer
Melanoma is a form of cancer that may come from exposure to the sun.
Non-melanoma, basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma vary. An unusual skin growth, bump or sore that doesn’t go away may be the first indication of a non-melanoma skin cancer.
From the Cancer Treament Centers of America:
A basal cell on the head or neck may be a pale patch of skin or a waxy translucent bump. You may see blood vessels in the center of the bump or there may be an indentation. If the carcinoma develops on the chest it may appear as a brownish scar or flesh-colored lesion. As cancer develops, it may bleed or ooze if hit.
These firm lumps may be rough on the surface, unlike the smooth and pearly appearance of a basal cell carcinoma. If a module doesn’t form, cancer may appear as a reddish scaly patch. As a skin rash may go away with time, these rough lesion-like patches remain and continue to develop slowly. This type of cancer typically is found on the head, neck, hands or arms, but they can also develop in the genital region or in scars.
However, both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas may also develop as a flat area that does not look much different from normal skin, so know the symptoms of skin cancer and discuss such changes with a doctor.
While many skin cancers develop in areas exposed to the sun, they also develop in areas that are usually hidden. It is important to examine all of these areas. In addition to examining the legs, trunk, arms, face and neck, it is important to look for signs of skin cancer in the areas between the toes, underneath nails, palms of the hands and soles of the feet, genitals and the eyes.
For more go to: http://www.cancercenter.com/skin-cancer/symptoms/
THERAPY FOR ME
I’ve often written about therapy for medical problems and right now I’m doing home therapy for three problems, suggested by the Carson Tahoe Health therapists. One is a repeat for handwriting, which I first took about a year ago. Therapist Ben then gave me a list of writing exercises which I practiced for about a year. Then I lost the list and stopped trying it. My handwriting went right back to scribble so I asked for a copy of it. Now I follow the list carefully, twice a day about 30 minutes. And my handwriting is gradually becoming legible again.
Then I sought therapy for a typing problem using the laptop where I write this column. I found myself making many errors and going more slowly.
Ben heard me and got a jar of what he called “clay.” The substance was a ball of plastic, easily shaped. He rolled out into a half-inch solid tube. He wrapped the tube around the ends of his fingers on one hand and flexed the fingers apart. He rerolled the clay into a tube and invited me to wrap my fingers and then flex them apart. I did so. It was not easy and I could feel the stress. This was to strengthen my fingers for typing.
He photographed me doing the wrap on my iPhone and stretch so I would remember the exercise. I do it 15 or more two times daily. No great improvement yet but it feels good.
My third therapy was for deteriorating balance, a problem in skiing. This was more complex and Scott stepped in and took me through tests, which quickly showed problems. He walked me around the gym, on a treadmill, standing on one leg and walking.
The problems were obvious so he suggested a six-series of therapy and started me out on two segments.
The first was to stand on one leg, hands held out front for 30 seconds. I tried it and didn’t do very well. Seemed so easy but I kept grabbing the chair back in front of me. Now I attempt the single leg stance once daily.
The other was the tandem stance and walk. Here he showed me how to stand with one foot directly in front of the other so that the toes of the other foot touched the heels of the first. Progress by taking steps with the heel touching the toes with each step for about 10 steps, maintaining balance.
This seems easy but it isn’t, at least for me. I am to do it for one minute one time a day. The balance therapy is complex and is to last for a month.
With at least an hour a morning of therapy in less than two weeks, it feels good.
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.