Author Archives: theplatinummuse

Hiking Upper Michigan”s Keweenaw Peninsula: Mt. Baldy Hike

After crossing off the Porcupine Mountain’s Escarpment Trail from my bucket list I set my sights on Mt. Baldy. This was only my second time strapping on my new backpack. I packed a little smarter this time. Even though I consider water pretty heavy, I made sure I had plenty. I traded my rice cakes and pb for apples and cheese this time too. It turns out rice cakes don’t travel all that well in a pack. I even threw in a flashlight just in case.

My husband and I hooked up with our favorite sister-brother-in-law duo for this hike at the trailhead near Eagle Harbor. I gotta say, they were great hiking companions.

The 8.2 mile round trip Mt. Baldy hike was a little easier on the body than the Escarpment Trail in the Porkies. Not as many ups and downs and rock scrambling, but I have to admit I could feel the slow and steady elevation climb.

Again, we lucked out with the weather. It was cloudy but no rain. No bugs either which is a real plus for this hiker. The view at the top of Mt. Baldy is well worth the effort. What can top the view of green expanse unfolding before you from the mountain top except for maybe the view of Lake Superior itself off in the distance. We sat and ate lunch on the mountain top and gazed out over the spectacular view. It really gives one a different perspective of the whole world.

You would at first think that hiking back over the downhill sloping trail would be a lot easier but in fact, it just uses a different set of muscles. Well, maybe it’s a little easier except for the roots, rocks, loose gravel, and fatigue starting to set in a bit.

Out trailhead off in the distance now appeared to be way far away. “Leave it to Beaver” trivia questions and chatter between friends made the miles go quicker and easier.

Would I do the Mt. Baldy hike again? Absolutely! It was breathtaking and not too difficult of a hike.

It seems like I have found a new love. Hiking. And, even hiking with a backpack. It calms me down and feeds my soul. I guess for me it was a culmination of things that brought me to this new found love. A spin off of Covid restrictions that actually had a positive outcome for me as well as the effects of my weight loss effort and focus on wellness.

So what is the #3 hike on my bucket list? Stay tuned to find out where my hiking shoes take me next.

Porcupine Mountains State Park Escarpment Trail

There was a time in my life that I would have never considered strapping on a backpack and hiking 8.8 miles just for pleasure on Saturday afternoon. But, that is exactly what I did to celebrate Father’s Day 2021 with my husband. He’s always been outdoorsy. Me, not so much. Along with my wellness journey though came a weird unexpected transition. Feeling stronger and able to move my body better opened doors for me. First the first time ever in my 65 years, I strapped on a back pack. My husband and I set out on an 8.8 mile hike. The Porkies had been on my husband’s bucket list for years and had been added to my bucket list about a year ago. Oddly enough, my bucket list includes several hikes now which I hope to be blogging about just because I think it fits in with this whole health and wellness thing.

The views along the Escarpment Trail are spectacular. You can see the headwaters of the Carp River and its winding path to Lake of the Clouds. The scene unfolds like a rumpled green silk table cloth. White Pine is visible near the far horizon.

The trail is classified as moderate. Lake of the Clouds appears early on and the views get better and better as you go along until the trail turns in to the woods. You can exit back out to the road at this point if you want, but, our goal was to hike the entire trail–round trip. It was 4.4 miles one way of up and down hills and rocks and winding through the state forest. It was beautiful. The weather perfect for hiking and no bugs to be found. We stopped for about 30 minutes for lunch and a rest in the shade at about midpoint.

The trail’s end (or beginning depending on your starting point) is quite steep and rocky. Hikers coming in the other direction warned us that the last half mile was a tough go. Actually, I didn’t think it was all that bad. When we arrived at the end of the trail, which is another parking lot, we past several groups of hiker’s just starting out. Some in flip flops with no water and we chuckled as they passed us. We wondered how far they would get. They were already sounding concerned and asking how far to the other end of the trail.

We walked the road from the end parking lot back to our car–another 4.4 miles. This time, we were feeling it. It was uphill the whole way. I’m talking Porcupine Mountains, so, not really hills but mountains. We ran out of water about half way along the road. The day was getting warmer, our packs seemed heavier, feet starting to feel like there were bricks tied to them. We stopped several times on this stretch. My husband sprawled out in the ditch and me standing on the shoulder of the road with my pack on ’cause I knew if I sat down I may not be getting back up. Our bodies were starting to ache.

The last mile was the hardest. It was a steep uphill climb on a curving, switchback style road. I kind of wanted to cry but that was not going to help anything. I glanced at my partner who looked as exhausted as I did so I knew he would be of no help. We toughed it out, putting one foot in front of the other. When cars would pass we would stand up straighter, smile, trying not to let our pain and exhaustion show through. “Finish strong” we would shout to each other and laugh.

Finally, the parking lot appeared around the corner and we spotted our car. A hiker/cyclist we met earlier on the trail passed us. He mentioned that he prefers to start at the other end of the trail (opposite of what we did) and hike uphill first, grab his bike left earlier in that parking lot, and finish out the road section back to his starting point with a fun and easy downhill ride. Who knew? We hobbled on over to our car and hopped in.

I fell asleep in moments in the car on our way to the AmericInn which sits on the shore of Lake Superior on the edge of the Porkies. We carried our packs in, slugged down some water, and collapsed on the beds trying to find a comfortable position to lay our bodies down. But we were all smiles. We did it. 8.8 miles. Our longest and most fun hike together ever. We grabbed a quick dinner and marveled at the beautiful setting for the AmericInn. It sits at the mouth of the Carp River where it empties into Lake Superior with its sugary white sand beach. The sun sets beautifully right there.

Our trip home in the morning was uneventful with the exception of our bodies stiffening up like cold taffy. Every time we had to get out of the car it was a slow and painful event. Our recovery time was quick though and overall I loved every minute of this adventure. Would I do a hike like this again? You bet! In a heartbeat!

“You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.” –Dr. Seuss

My Slice of Heaven: Lake Superior’s Oliver Bay

72 hours in on my vacation and I was already feeling the zen. It was 80 degrees on the beach at Oliver Bay. There was a warm breeze, pure blue sky, and gentle waves washing over my feet. It’s my favorite place in the world and at that moment I was lucky enough to be walking the beach there. I was alone with just my dog. There wasn’t another person in sight. Over a mile of white sugar sand beach and pink sandstone stretched out in front of me. I was not counting steps, aiming for any particular heart rate, or tweaking my technique. I was simply taking in the beauty around me, soaking in nature, feeling the rhythm of life.

Reminder to myself: Don’t focus on the rear view mirror when the direction I choose is forward.

Will A New Puppy Keep Me More Active You Ask?

Puppy breath. What’s not to love. A fuzzy little round body and little puppy snuggles.

Having taken up trail running as of late, I decided I needed a partner. It turns out, dogs and puppies are hard to find these days. It seems everyone wants a “pandemic dog or pup.” I found her though. She was born on my birthday. A sure sign this pup was the one. A red lab.

Her name is Ruby and she is perfect. My husband and I are empty nesters and we agreed to spoil her rotten. For us that means she can sleep in our bed, be up on the furniture, pretty much go where ever we go. The end game here is that I want to get extra steps in and move on the top of the hour while awake. Being in a desk job, that is harder than you might imagine.

Ruby is just over 3 months old now and yes, we are getting in extra steps and moving, a lot. Potty training a pup keeps you jumping up at least once an hour. There are short walks along the river during the day and time to look up at the stars in the middle of the night while you are standing out in your front yard in your pajamas, shivering.

My husband works from home as I soon will be too. Ruby has settled in to quite a nice schedule. It’s basically going 100 mph from 5 AM to 8 or 9AM and then napping on the futon while my husband works in the den for most of the day with exception of a few trips outside to use the potty outside. Then, it’s basically 100 mph again from 5 PM to 8 PM when she puts herself to bed. There are not many midnight or O’dark thirty potty runs outside anymore.

Ruby can come when she is called (provided you have treats on you) and can do a squirmy sit for a few moments. She can also walk on a leash quite well if you carry peanut butter on the end of a long wooden spoon and hold it in front of her. She is sleeping on my feet at the moment keeping my toes toasty.

Ruby starts obedience classes the middle of May. I’m not sure how she will do as she will still be quite young, but I am sure she will pick up a few pointers as will I. And, socialization, well, thats key, right?

I can’t wait until I can take Ruby running with me some day! Right now its leash work, good nutrition for a strong body, and lots puppy snuggles and love.

Speedbumps, Roadblocks, and Sinkholes That Get In The Way Of Your Weight Loss Journey.

Those weight loss setbacks. It reminds me of the late March snowfall above (photo credit J.A. 3/28/2021.) I guess it’s a normal part of the journey.

I typically don’t write about my own personal weight loss and wellness plan, but, this past week has been unprecedented for me and totally turned my journey upside down. I follow WW and have pretty much changed my lifestyle in accordance with their wellness philosophy. I don’t just do the online plan, but, regularly attend local WW meetings and have met some phenomenal people there. Tuesday when I walked in though, I found out that the Michigan and Canada WW franchises had been sold to WW International and our meeting was shut down. The nearest in person WW meeting was now 2 hours away. I was shocked and totally taken by surprise. Not sure if my WW app and membership were even still functional, I said good-bye to my amazing WW Coaches and meeting friends and headed home, a little teary eyed. I was totally thrown off course by this unexpected twist and found myself doing a little stress eating of all things! Yikes! Then I waited for an email or something on WW Connect or something on the WW site itself, but nothing. I decided though that I wasn’t going to let go of this thing so easily, so, I contacted the WW 24/7 Coaching staff just because I ‘m the type of person that needs a plan going forward. The one thing I know for sure is that I never want to go back to where I came from–100# heavier. The Coach assured me my WW app wasn’t going anywhere, yes–there is still Lifetime WW membership–yes the meeting is closed but I can just use my home scale for now, and yes–I can continue with meetings although they will have to be virtual meetings for now. So, not my ideal, but, I had a plan for moving forward again and to me that’s everything. What I do like about WW is the acknowledgement that this is a life long lifestyle change and that they offer Lifetime Membership as long as you do not go over 2# above your goal weight. I checked out a few other weight loss programs after my meeting closed but did not see this offered anywhere. I know for a fact for me this is a lifelong program. It’s not a make the change and move on kind of thing.

Who saw this coming! A sinkhole (for me anyway) that pulled the rug right out from under me–for a few days anyway. I’m happy to say I am back on track and moving on. I am actively engaged in the digital 360 WW app and only have 4 more runs to go to complete the C25K Program that I am doing as well. I am even eyeing up the virtual Earth Day 5K Run for my first goal after finishing the C25K Program. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it and put up with the detours that pop up along the way.

I hope this helps any Michigan and Canada WW members that were forced to go through this buy out. I didn’t even know there were two separate WW organizations until this past Tuesday! Hang in there and don’t give up just because you are faced with change. I guarantee it won’t be the last change you are forced to go through. Enjoy your journey!

Best Reasons To Take That Lunchtime Walk!

I started taking walks with my husband on my lunchbreak 5 or 6 years ago. It started out because I wanted to get in better physical shape and my husband was there, as always, to support me in my new endeavor. He would drive to the hospital where I work and text me from the parking lot when he got there. I would then throw on my walking shoes and off we would go. There is a rather large paved loop around a cemetery adjacent to the hospital complex where I work. I thought it was morbid at first to be taking our walks there but have come to love it over the years. It has beautiful large pines and flowering trees, deer, squirrels, birds, flowers, and a fountain. Train cars rest on their rails along on side with all of their colorful graffiti. All in all, my loop is 1 1/2 miles long. We meet and greet many of my co-workers along the path.

What started out as a way to build endurance quickly evolved in to other things. It’s some quality time I get to spend with my spouse 5 days a week. Sometimes we talk, sometimes not. Sometimes we irritate each other, sometimes we couldn’t be closer. We catch up on our day, plan dinner, talk about our plans, obstacles, kids and grandkids. It’s our time. No distractions. Our walks have made our marriage stronger and we have grown closer because of the time we spend alone, seperated from the rest of the world.

Some more motivation to get you started:

  • 30 minutes of brisk walking will get you about 1/2 way to your 10,000 step goal for the day.
  • Walking is an excellent weight bearing exercise that will help build and maintain bone strength.
  • Walking will burn calories and increase your metabolism.
  • Walking will reduce your stress level.
  • Walking is excellent for you heart and cardiovascular system.
  • Walking 30 minutes at lunch will increase your cognitive function and help you think clearly and prioritize your tasks for the rest of the day.
  • A lunchtime walk is a great way to “make space” for you partner in the middle of the day and help to keep you close and connected.

If you choose to start walking on your lunch break, I am here to tell you, you will not regret it. My husband and I are in our 60’s and it has has just a huge inpact on the quality of our lives and our marriage too. Good luck!

For more like this visit my weight loss and wellness blog at

I Think It’s Time To Open Up Our Planners Again!

So, now that we are maybe coming over the hump of the pandemic, are you where you want to be on your weight loss journey? The COVID vaccine is rolling out, things are slowly opening up, and spring is around the corner.

Maybe it’s time for us to pull out our calendars or vision boards and pencil in a few things.

If committed to losing just 1# a week then, by Easter you will have lost 7#. By Memorial Day 15#. And, by July 4th 20#! Let’s keep it real. Tiny steps add up.

If you can cut 500 calories a day from your daily intake you will likely reach this goal. And 20# by the 4th? Just picture 20 1# packages of butter. That’s what will be gone! How cool is that!

Here’s a little quick and easy salsa recipe to help you get started:

28 oz stewed tomatoes–drained

4 oz can green chiles–chopped

1 T minced garlic

3 T chopped onion

12 slices bottled jalapenos–chopped

Put in 1/2 tomatoes in blender. Top with chiles, garlic, onion, jalapenos, then rest of tomatoes. Blend until just folds over.

I love chicken breasts in the slow cooker topped with a cup or two of salsa and left to cook for 8 hours while I’m at work. Just make sure a little of the salsa is under the pieces of chicken too. I also love to make my own chips out of tortilla wraps to dip in this salsa. Just spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, put your cut up tortilla chips on the baking sheet, flip over so both side are lightly coated with cooking spray and sprinkle a little salt or whatever seasoning you want on them. Then pop in the oven for just a few minutes till crisp! They are great dipped in salsa and a great way to cut some calories. You can even sprinkle a little fat free or low fat cheese on them too. Enjoy!

Reflecting On Your Wellness Journey.

It’s a brutally cold day here in Northern Wisconsin. -20 F on our deck thermometer this morning. I think some days were just set up for us to slow down and do a bit of reflection on where we have come from and where we are going on our wellness journeys.

January 23, 2018 is when it all starting clicking for me for whatever reason. I was turning 62. I’m not sure if it was just an accumulation of things, or, that I was uncomfortable enough in my own skin. It could even have been that I had just been forced to dig down deep for strength and withstand some personal turmoil related to events outside of my control. Somehow, the earth seemed to shift. I found myself stronger after my struggles and after having been exposed to some new ways of thinking. New ways of letting go. I finally found myself.

I’m stronger now. Comfortable. Carving out my own path forward. Losing 100# has been life changing and I’m still adjusting with the new version of myself. I am still trying to figure out what size clothing really fits me and I am amazed at what my refurbished body can do.

Still plotting my path forward. I have a few new fitness goals and I’ve made some tweaks to my weight loss goal. It’s like finding that rhythm that you can just settle into and run with forever.

Have a conversation with yourself this week about your wellness journey. Get a visual on what goal you are going to crush next. Then, don’t lose sight of it as you head in to the craziness of the week ahead. Let the rest go. It doesn’t matter. You are what matters.

Mondays are for Restarts!

It’s Monday. And it’s February 1st. So, for any of you who are just a tad obsessive-compulsive like me, it’s a great day to start something new! Or, the same thing, but, again!

January seemed to be a never ending month for me. My COVID shots seemed to take forever to schedule and complete. There didn’t seem to be enough daylight hours. I was cold. And, towards the end of the month I suffered an IT band reinjury that put a stop to my running for a bit.

I did rock my 65th birthday though! I went ice-skating for the first time in about 25 years on Saturday followed by cross skiing on that Sunday. It was a blast. Hence the IT band reinjury mentioned above. But hey, I was the last one in off the ice rink. I’ve been taking Aleve and doing some stretching in the days that followed which I have found helpful.

Now, Monday, February 1st. Recommitted to my health and wellness plan. I have that 100# weight loss under my belt and I will never, ever go back to where I came from. I’m working my program every single day this month. It’s a short month and I can do this. I felt pretty badass from the get go this morning even as I stood by the kitchen sink mixing up my Metamucil in a cold glass of water. Skating and skiing might have been a speed bump in the road for me but I’m ready to start running again (this time I will be stretching too–before and after) and next up will be the sledding hill with the grandkids!

Let your Weekend Warrior shine through this February. I’m here to tell you, you will love it! Let me know what you did!

P.S. I am getting one of these mid-March to be my running buddy.

I know, hey?

Personal Growth And Wellness Inside Political Chaos

It feels like the world has shifted since my last blog post on January 2nd. My intended purpose in writing my blog is to promote and inspire individual weight loss and wellness journeys. But, when I returned home from work on January 6th and had a chance to take a closer look at the photos, video clips, and news reporting of our US Capitol under siege from earlier that day, my heart saddened. I had a trail run planned for that evening but instead found myself in front of the TV screen watching events unfold at the Capitol Building. Was I shocked? No, I was not. But I was shaken to my core by the lawless, violent, mob behavior incited by our own President.

Thursday morning was quiet and business as usual at work. I found myself checking my phone for news updates on my break time walks and still trying to digest yesterday’s events. The world didn’t seem as safe anymore. I toyed around with a few ideas of how I could become more politically involved and support the things I value.

Evening brought me determination and drive to go back out and do my evening run. Sometimes you have to control what you can and grow in the space that you have. Personal growth goals remain important. As I ran I thought about our President Elect and whispered to myself “This one is for you Joe.” It was getting dark I had forgotten my both my headlamp and my ear pods. I was the only person in sight and the wooded trail unfolding in the twlight ahead of me was breathtaking. The only sound I could hear was my running shoes hitting the snowy, soft brown dirt and It gave me a sense of being strong and upright again. I love feeling the strength of my own body. I love the calmness and mental clarity trail running gives me. I have found something that feeds my soul.

I don’t expect this week ahead will be an easy one. My hopes are that we can embrace our different views, respect each other, and have discussions without turning to hate and violence. Keep growing and reaching for your goals. Move forward and never put your own life on hold because of someone else’s chaos.

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity. –Sun Tzu