“Gravity is a contributing factor in nearly 73 percent of all accidents involving falling objects.” Dave Barry
It was bound to happen. Especially on one of the most pristinely beautiful hiking days one could ever ask for! I slipped on some wet rocks and fell – hard – on my knee and had to hobble down two more miles on it. But there were definitely lessons learned.
For those of you who have found me through channels other than Twitter, (thank you for reading wherever you hail from!) my moniker there is @SuuperG. Also through this same social medium, I have teamed up with some amazing and diverse fellow Twitter-ers to climb Mera peak in the Himalayas as a fundraiser for Charity Water next spring. For more details about this upcoming adventure and worthy cause, follow this link. For this reason, you may be seeing more and more documentation blogs of my trials and exploits in pursuit of conditioning and prepping for this challenging trek. Here, I present you with a small setback :-}
Today I was hitting the trails with another hiking partner of late, Kathy, and because it was hot and we were considering going farther than the usual five or six miles, I took my smaller backpack and loaded it with lots of water, some snacks and only a few other items, like my camera and chap stick. I remember looking at my big “fully loaded” backpack as we left my house, saying “I feel like there are things in there I might need”. But, I shook off the feeling and we set out on the most glorious, clear, sunny but-not-hot SoCal day.
We both felt really good and strong and after we got to the “saddle” junction, 2.5 miles up, we made our way down the other side of the mountain ridge, two more miles to Willow Creek where we had a refreshing (and achingly cold!) toe dip and munched down peanut butter and honey sandwiches. What? Hey, when you hike, the rules say you’re allowed to eat whatever the heck you want. So there!
We donned our packs and headed out, feeling invigorated and as strong as when we started. We had 4.5 miles to get back, making a nine mile trek and we began talking more seriously about planning and tackling longer, more challenging hikes to the peaks in our ‘hood. In fact, when we had two more miles to get down, I was remarking how strong and fit I felt after a pretty strenuous hike and I swear I had a spring in my ste – whoops! I slipped off a wet rock and rather than help me stabilize, my trekking poles seemed to get tangled and I went down HARD – ripping my really cute hiking pants! – as well as a hole in my knee and ankle and jarring my pinky, which was caught in the poles. I was laying there in the mud of a small stream trying not to cuss – or rather not verbalizing the profanity that was running through my head – and tapped the floor in a silly attempt to chase the pain away…like shooing away bad spirits!
So this was my first bad hiking fall. I was pretty certain nothing was broken, but knees are funny contraptions; they don’t like to operate when swollen and bruised. We thankfully had some cold water to clean me (not my muddy butt and legs, mind you, but the knee) and Kathy – now nicknamed Special K – produced a nice hefty bandage as well as two Advil she authoritatively prescribed for me to take, knowing that for the way down, I was going to need some doping.
So it’s now the hiking team of Suuper G and Special K, overcoming challenges on the trails! If I had to apply a moniker to my other treasured hiking pal, Gretchen, it would be Feisty G.
So, remember when I mentioned all of the goodies I keep in my main, large backpack? Yeah. The one I left behind. Well, I was remembering that I had a heavy-duty knee brace in there. Sighhhh…that would have been so very nice. My main concern was not avoiding pain, but minimizing further possible tendon and ligament and whatever-else-is-inside-there damage as I continued walking on it – and down! Anyone who hikes knows that injured knees scoff at going down…something about bending! I was thankful at this time that my pinky was sprained so the throbbing took away some attention from my lower joints. That backpack also housed wind pants and a light shell for unpredictable weather and of course some previously non-existent clouds were starting to roll in overhead. It stayed warm, thankfully!
We made a make-shift support by soaking one of those gel-filled neck cooler thingies (I think that’s a brand name) and tying it tightly around my knee and refreshed it with icy cold water from streams on the way down. Again, Special K thought of this and I was uber grateful! We made it down finally – as is evidenced by this post – and it was a tedious business. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep the night before or the two Advils, or a combination, but I was getting a bit foggy and fatigued at being so tentative with every step for a long distance and my mental energy was waning. I found that curious, and worrisome as I reeeaally didn’t want to trip again. Has anyone else ever had a similar effect or experience with an injury?
“I learn something every time I go into the mountains.” Michael Kennedy
The boy scout moral of this story is; be prepared. You really don’t know what you’ll encounter on a trail and the one time you cut corners and break your own rules is precisely when you could have benefited from them!
Can the Suuper part of me declare that it was still an awesome day? ‘Cause it was…and my main hope and goal in healing this angry joint is to get back on those boundless and bountiful trails.