M and I did our hiking Saturday. It was great and glorious 95% of the time, mildly to wildly unpleasant the other 5%. This is progress.

I am frustrated with myself for being this inexperienced and this out of shape and this much of a clumsy doofus. Significantly less I am frustrated with M for being part mountain goat, expert trail runner, and all-around outdoorsy guy. Again, this is progress. In prior outings I have been mostly irritated and upset with M for my issues. Now, I get that while I have been walking for 50+ years, I am pretty much a toddler when it comes to hiking in the mountains with what my mind now perceives as treacherous trails waiting to trip me up, quite literally.

Yesterday I did NOT fall … go me! And for the majority of our hours of hiking I had no unusual aches of pains. However, I did lose my footing on a steeper, less developed piece of trail and it tweaked my knee again. Nothing serious, but it required a sit-down, food, and a couple of motrin. All of which worked out as far as timing. It was noon and I was ready to each my half sandwich, which I also needed to take the motrin. We were about 3/4 the way out – we were going approximately 4 miles to an overlook before turning around – and after our meal and taking the pills I was able to finish the climb and the walk back with minimal pain squeaks. By the time we reached the car on our return trip my knee was fine. I do need to keep up the exercise during the week to build some strength and endurance. And M has decided it would be best to stay off the steeper trails, less developed pathways until we are sure whatever ails/irritates it is fully healed.

A small plug for the Pacific Crest Trail in California: it’s beautiful and relatively easy to hike. However, majority of our route out yesterday was up, and despite the relative ease of prepared trails with 16% grade or less, we were still climbing. The views were lovely, though, and I am improving with each weekend’s outing. The improvements come in very slow baby steps.

I am also having to work less and less on my attitude and staying positive about the experience. I do not go hiking because I love it so much and want to learn about it. Nope. Not at all. Right now I go hiking because M loves being in the mountains and sharing them with me and I do this to please and make him happy. It is sort of like we are back in the dating phase of our relationship. Most of the time it’s really good. But like anyone M’s patience does begin to wear when I cannot tell him what exactly hurts with my knee and what “weakness” I am feeling when walking up or down on it from time to time. This is difficult for me, because M is one of those people who is dogged in his perseverance and his attitude sort of makes me feel as if I am giving up too soon. It’s a sensitivity I have, and I own it. We have been married long enough to know this about each other and to understand our friction is temporary, heat-of-the-moment frustration and will fade as quickly as it flashed.

I will say that I do hope to someday fall in love with hiking enough to be eager to go for my own enjoyment than to just make M happy. For now, though, his joy and exuberance are enough to make me keep trying, and to my own surprise, I want to keep trying to become better at this activity.

There is a certain amount of gear that comes with this evolving pursuit. I am finding the hydration pack I have been using wears me down and leaves ugly marks/bruises on my shoulders and back. I long for something more balanced and not quite so tightly packed. Which leads us to REI later today, to try on and be fitted with larger units that is not quite so hard on my shoulders and capable of carrying all M needs for our weekend hikes and his future backpacking adventures. I am not sure for me, but for M it is a definite process we want to pursue. He will need an appropriately-fitted rig to carry all the camping crap stuff required as his backpacking pursuits expand. If we can find a smaller, more comfortable unit for me to carry water, food, and other must-have supplies that would be good as well. Every weekend we have gone a little farther and done a little more, but it is becoming apparent some additional adjustments will be required to ensure we are both comfortable and have maximum fun on our adventures. It is not a cheap hobby, but it seems one we acquire the right equipment it will be last a very long time. 

The knee feels fine today and will likely be pretty much the same all week. But I am going to experiment with the stairmaster at the gym to see how it feels during a cardio session of climbing. I suspect the loss of an additional 20 lbs. will do more to cure what ails it than anything else, so I am going to have to work harder at my eating habits and cutting calories. Wish me luck with that.  

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