But I’m out of shape. And I have old man knees. And peripheral neuropathy in my feet. And part of that weight loss was muscle.
I haven’t hiked more than a couple of miles since I was a Boy Scout, when we did a week-long trek up the C&O Canal from Washington DC to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
The hike up Grand Wash with my sister and brother-in-law back in September revealed I had a lot of recovery and rebuilding ahead of me. Although I feel much stronger now, I still have some work—or working out—to do.
The walking felt good. No complaints from my feet, joints, muscles or cardio-vascular system. So I didn’t stop at the trailhead.
Your basic trail
I had been up Palm Canyon once before. I knew the trail changed back and forth between hard dirt, gravel, stones, scree and bare rock. It wouldn’t be a stroll in the park (or, in this case, a wildlife preserve), but it wouldn’t be difficult. The question was whether my body could deal with it.
Watch where you step
I had to watch my foot placement in several sections to avoid slipping, tripping, falling. But my balance was good and my limbs were doing what I asked without trouble.
So I kept going, to the viewpoint for the palms and a little beyond. There the trail got a little more serious. I had left my walking stick behind because it’s awkward when I want to take pictures. Not enough hands to hold things. As they say, discretion is the better part of not falling, hurting oneself and needing to be air-evacced out of there. Besides, I had already surpassed the day’s goal. I turned around.
Walking downhill is less of a cardio workout but more a test of joints. At least it is for me, because I’m not graceful. I land on my heels, with my legs stiff. Thump thud thud thump. Because I don’t trust the muscles in the uphill leg will flex without collapsing. That’s part of getting in shape.
Also, downhill footing is trickier. Or it feels that way. Will the soles grip, or will this grit make them slide and send me sprawling? Is that rock going to tilt and make my ankle buckle?
I made it back to the trailhead without incident. The only challenges from there were washboard, dust and monotony. I might have been only a mile from the Rolling Steel Tent to the trailhead, but it seemed like four coming back. One foot in front of the other, repeat as necessary.
This morning I feel fine. No aches and pains, no blisters, no wounds to heal. A couple of more months of this and I’ll be in decent shape. And southeast Utah won’t be as frigid.
These Keen Gypsum II shoes kept my feet happy