Monday, April 14, 2014

Hiking with PWR!Gym

Catalina State Park's trails were beginning to feel familiar to me.  I could gauge how far I was from the parking lot, how much higher I could climb, where we could stop for lunch.  After bullets separated me from my hiking poles, I lost interest in the trails.  We were at Gabe Zimmerman's trailhead earlier this year; I picnicked but didn't put a foot on the path.

If I couldn't do it well, I wasn't going to do it at all.

Miss Vicki took me out a few times.  She was solicitous and thoughtful and we had fun but I wouldn't call it hiking.  Margo and I walked on flat surfaces and had enough time to take dozens of photographs.  There was not a lot of sustained forward movement in either of those instances.  I'd walk a few hundred yards and then pause to catch my breath or massage my hip or loosen my neck or cover my need to stop by taking a picture. 

I covered the ground, lumbering, groaning, but doing it.  It was all I could do with the strength I had then.  I was certain that I'd always be limping; I would be the most nimble Walter Brennan impersonator I could. Trying to put a funny face on it was the best that I could do.  Progress was slow and I was losing patience.  I could do more and lift more but the underlying abilities - to kneel, to bend, to twist, to balance, to share the weight of my body equally on two legs evenly planted on the ground - those seemed stuck in place.

Once the massage therapist and his magic scraper began to treat my injuries, everything began to change.  Numbness was replaced by feeling, skipping over the months and years it had taken the rest of the nerve endings to regenerate and reconnect.  I could use my adductors because I could feel my adductors.. and how the knee bone's connected to the shin bone and the quadriceps and all the preparation I'd been doing for three years came together.

I was able to roll through my foot using my toes and my ankles and my arches as my calves flexed and my knees were bent and lifted by a combination of the muscles in my front and my back.  It was exhausting to pay attention to all of that activity, and I couldn't maintain it for very long, but I felt that I was having longer and longer periods of better and better ambulation.

This weekend, Big Cuter and I proved that.  We drove up to Catalina State Park and joined the Bowden PWR! Hike for the one mile trek.  Ten milers had started at 7:30, four milers at 9:30, and we short timers took off at 11:30... after posing for the obligatory team photograph. 

Big Cuter and I struck out ahead, following the pink ribbons affixed to upcoming vegetation which marked our way.  He let me set the pace.  He offered the bench half way through.  He made sure that my entirely-absent-directional-skills did not get us lost.  He admired the saguaros and prompted me to follow him onto the harder packed sand. 

We didn't stop.  I took no pictures, I admired no views except in passing. He thinks that I should try to widen my stride since I seem to put one foot down right in front of the other and that is exactly what we were doing... from the start to the finish.... and I could have kept going.

Instead, we retreated to the tent, accepted smiles and rejected cake, shook hands with Diane Bowden and thanked her for creating the event, and drove home.

I could list the things it wasn't (long, strenuous, steep, windy, exhausting) but the list of things it was is much more fun.  It was such a sense of accomplishment.  It was a shared experience with gym rat friends, and no one cared that incapacity had brought us to that particular gym.  It was more than I thought I could handle. It was an opportunity to prove something to myself in a safe environment.  It was something to do with my son.

But, to me, there's one thing it was that made it extra special.

It was a hike.
Hat Hair and Hat


  1. I'm proud of you. Wish I could have been there in those beautiful surroundings. How cool that Big Cuter was there to share it with you! Keep up the good work.

    1. Having him there made such a difference... he kept me focused and moving forward and filled with love

  2. Congratulations on completing your hike! Well done.

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