OK 2 posts in one day….I’m really not in school anymore!! I was inspired to re-post this blog from back in 2007 by a new friend, check his blog out at http://www.acomposing.wordpress.com.
It was awesome to pull this out of archives of my computer and read it again 🙂
Dec 31, 2007
OK, so …. the Grand Canyon didn’t kill me. It tried, don’t get me wrong. But I overcame, I triumphed, I was victorious! Ha! Grand Canyon. Take that.
I will tell you how the Canyon tried, about how I overcame, but first and foremost it is important to emphasize that, despite the bad stuff, I had a great time! I love hiking! The Grand Canyon was beautiful! I truly enjoyed my time there. (….even if I spent a lot of it miserable…..)
I am apparently not the only one to have had the “The Grand Canyon tried to kill me” experience, because as I tried to enlist the aid of the Park Ranger at the bottom of the Canyon, I was spoken to kindly but indifferently.
Pretty much, as nice as he could, he said, “yeah yeah here’s some tape, up is better than down.”
So to take you back a little ways, once upon a time, about 7 years ago, I was day hiking, nothin special, when I had a nasty slip while crossing a stream. I tore the meniscus in both knees, the one in my right knee worst.
This has proven to be a problem in the past but not unreasonable. I took up snowboarding instead of skiing because it is supposed to be easier on the knees. I haven’t tried skiing, so I can’t say for sure : / But each time I go snowboarding I end up with my knee bigger than my thigh, icing it all night, and in a considerable amount of ‘uncomfortableness’, but not really pain. I plan the trip for a day in between each day on the slopes, just to make sure my knee is ok.
We went multi-day backpack hiking to the Gila this summer/fall. That was a lot of fun and my knees held up just fine. That was all I had to determine how well I would do on this hiking trip. There were no river crossings, ie…no sandal time to rip the skin off my feet like in the Gila. I was ready…or so I thought.
We left the top at about 9 am, with goal to reach the bottom by 2pm. This is estimating about a mile an hour. The average speed of a Canyon hiker. This of course means that there are those that make it to the bottom in 3 hours –
(I have witnessed this stupidity now, ?why?? Why would anyone want to run to the bottom? Even in great shape, with perfect knees, you are pounding and grinding just by running and then adding to that the fact that it is uneven down hill terrain! You are ruining your knees for your future, seriously, not a smart idea)
– and those that take 8 hours. I would like to brag on myself a little bit here and say that *even with my knee trying to ‘pop out of my skull’, I still made it to the bottom around 2:30!!!*
I have this weird sense of ‘get-it-done-itis’, so when I start hurting..I just want to get it done. I pick up the pace and push forward with a sense of determination that can be startling.
So somewhere around the end of the first hour I realized that my knee was going to be trouble. My left leg has begun a tremor that is involuntary, unstoppable, and slightly unnerving. I pick up the pace. We stopped for a snack/break each hour or so and at the second hour I noticed that the tremor was slightly more violent and it didn’t stop the whole time we rested and now my right thigh had begun to tremble too. I used my scarf to wrap my knee as tightly as possible, and continued with my ‘get-it-done’ pace.
Somewhere around the 3rd hour, my right knee felt like there were three hat pins shoved randomly through my knee joint, I quit taking stops/breaks and took 6 Advil. I began to let go of conscious thought and just go. Down hill. Some more.
I wasn’t being careful enough with my foot placement and/or lifting it high enough to step over things like small pebbles and cracks. I started tripping.
Then around hour 4, my subconscious self and my conscious self had a rather odd encounter. There was another large downhill ‘stair step’ and my body just stopped moving. Stopped. It would NOT take another step and certainly not another down hill step. My conscious brain said to my legs…GO.
My subconscious brain said, “dude, you have been letting me run the show for a while now and it’s time to STOP”. Bentley asked me what was wrong…I actually had to say that I couldn’t make my body go. My two conscious levels had to have a bit of a debate in order for something to happen.
I knew it would be easier to go up but it would also be another 4+ hours with nothing but failure to look forward to.
It would be another hour+ of excruciating pain to get to the bottom, but there was steak, wine, and accomplishment to look forward to. The subconscious heard steak and said “OK, but slow this shit down!!!”
I had to talk it all out loud from that point on…it was actually quite humorous. When in a situation where one must laugh or cry, usually I turn to laugh. I just make fun of my situation and sally forth. Silly human.
For those of you who know this knee pain stuff, you understand that your knee knows downhill/stairs. There is a marked difference in how your knee feels when it is only being asked to tread on flat terrain, or even go uphill/stair.
The Canyon was toying with me. The last 1/2 mile was mostly flat. Mostly. I would get to feeling a little better, a little elated that there was no more down hill. But of course by this point, my knee could detect a .00001 degree of slope, and felt the need to yell at me about it each and every time. Amazing how ordinary things become landmines that must be dodged in order to avoid certain death. Things like grass, coarsely ground dust, and the ever present downward slope.
Which brings me to my next topic…..
The difference between definitions to a Canyoneer and Everyone Else.
Canyoneer: There’s no more down hill after this.
Everyone Else: For the last 2 miles to the bottom the grade will have gone from 45% to 6%.
Canyoneer: After this little jaunt, the trail just kind of meanders.
Everyone Else: After you finish scaling this vertical wall, while holding on to your 200 lb. back pack by your teeth, the trail turns into a mere 35% uphill grade that crosses back and forth with boulders to dodge and an uneven disintegrating trail for about 2.3 miles.
Canyoneer: The thermometer says its freezing.
Everyone Else: Avoid dislodging the snotsicles without kleenex as they are sharp, the warbly vision is because the eye liquids have frozen unevenly across your cornea. Your vision will return to normal again upon finding above freezing conditions. If your fingers and toes hurt, be grateful, because once they stop hurting they may start falling off.