Compartment Syndrome: Day 68

I have had symptoms of compartment syndrome since my teens. I was a runner then, and every time I went on a run, my calves would tighten and sometimes go numb along with pain in my feet and Achilles.  This pain would lessen when I stopped running or sometimes when I slowed down.  I have noticed that it is also worse on pavement.  If I start out slower, the cramping or tightening wouldn’t be as sever.  I didn’t know what it was, and it didn’t cause as much pain as my shin splints, so we let it go.  The PE teachers always told me I just needed to stretch more before I ran. So that is what I did, when I remembered.  It helped, some.

Fast forward almost 30 years, I still have the problem, but now I know what it is. I was having problems with my toes going numb and my legs were giving me problems.  I was sent to a back doctor to rule out back problems. It did, and it didn’t. But the numbness in my feet was not caused by my back.  I was given the electric nerve test to see what was causing my problems. It turns out that I have chronic compartment syndrome, which was not causing the numbness at the time but had in the past. Now I had a name for some of my problems, but not really a solution.  We were focusing on the actual back problems.

I could hike all day without the compartments swelling, so it was no big deal. And it still isn’t, for the most part. I can do most things I regularly do without problems, but today, I went for a walk at the park. Right away I was having difficulty walking.  I went less than a quarter mile on the paved path and began limping because of the pain.  My gate changed drastically. I pushed through. My right leg will subside as I continue to walk, but the left gets to a point of pain in the foot and stays there until I stop walking or running. This pain goes away fairly quickly, but tomorrow morning, I will feel like I had Charlie Horses in my calves.

Compartment syndrome is when the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels swell tightly against the fascia (a covering or lining for these groups in the legs and arms). The fascia does not stretch, which causes pressure to build and start to cut off circulation. In chronic conditions, it is not an emergency, but for acute conditions, it is. I have chronic which is caused by exercise.  There really isn’t much to do for the chronic condition, and that is why we didn’t focus on it.  I don’t have the problem often enough to cause a concern.  If it develops more, I could go to the physical therapist for instruction, use anti-inflammatories, or ultimately have surgery that opens the fascia (Orthoinfo).  I have a relative who has had this done, and I don’t think that it is something I would want to do. But then again, it doesn’t cause me problems most of the time.

I will just try to remember to stretch before I walk at the park or on a road and to start slower.  My pace usually isn’t super fast, but when I’m on flat ground and alone, I do go faster than normal.



Car Exercises: Day 67

I commute to work a couple of times a week.  Because the road is almost straight, empty, and uneventful, I sometimes have trouble staying awake.  I have tried many things over the years to keep me awake. Nothing has helped like doing car exercises. I have my nutritionist to thank for that idea. She told me that to get a little extra physical fitness in during drives that she put her cruise control on and moved her legs around.

So, on my drives I started playing around with that thought.  At first, I just pedaled my feet back and forth. After a minute, the muscles start getting tired, so I started adding things and have about an 11 minute routine that I am currently doing.  I hope to expand it in the future.

I start with pedaling my feet for a minute, then I kick them for a minute, and finally I lift my knees for a minute. After this, my legs are tired. So I move on to my arms, after all they need exercised too.  So with one arm at a time, I punch towards the dash for a minute and then I do curls for a minute. My shoulders and upper arms get fatigued with this. Once completed, I repeat the entire process a second time. It is not much, but I feel it.  I hope to see my arms, sides, back, abs, and thighs tighten from this since that is where I feel the burn.

It would be interesting to see what this little routine burns. But what really matters is that I am not sitting somewhat idle on those drives.  I can get two things done at once and use a few extra calories.

Human Hamster Ball: Day 66

In writing group today, we were talking about exercising a cat.  I suggested getting a cat sized hamster ball. From there, we talked about putting people in human sized hamster balls.  At first it was just fun exercise where the person could run around a park in their ball.  I remember as a kid, we had a pipe that we would take turns riding in while the other would push us.  We had scraped elbows, but it was a blast.  We even got to where we could walk on the pipe.  So in thinking about the human ball, I imagined that pure fun children get.  It would be a blast for the first dozen or so times with friends taking turns. Then the novelty would wear off, and we would have to find someone else to play with us.  Eventually it would be put in a corner to gather dust like the treadmill.

But our conversation turned. We began to talk about how to control it and how to keep from rolling down a hill. This brought us to having a small trap door in it, so that we could use it to run all over town and the door would be handy to use at a drive up.  But, imagine having to have the patience to be able to line up the trap door with the drive up window.  Our great idea suddenly had a flaw.

It would be fun though to have something like this.  I believe I have seen something like this for water.  I also think that there was something like this in the 80s or 90s, and people were racing in them down hills.  So as I have been told before, there are other people around the world who think of the same types of things as we do, just some of them do something with their ideas.

I would line up to try a human sized hamster ball if I didn’t have to buy it and store it. Imagine the exercise we would get just playing.

Like Water: Day 65

I was hiking at Hazen today following the washes again.  I realized that I really like water and water flows. This isn’t really a new realization, but more of a deeper thought.  I usually watch water flow or listen to it. But the last few hikes, I have really been paying attention to what water does to the desert mountains.IMG_20181008_142722863

I hike a ways out and follow the washes back as close to my car as I can. Today I was thinking about the way that the water moved and the destruction it can do. Then I was thinking about my walking in conjunction with that. I have started to be able to look ahead instead of down. (I was told that this would eventually happen.) In my looking ahead, I recognized that like water, when the going is smooth, I look out in front of me a ways.  When the water is smooth, I look out toward the horizon or to where the water moves out of my view.  But, when the going gets difficult my focus shifts to a narrow spot right around me. With water, my gaze also shifts to a narrow location when it becomes rough.  I like to see what is happening, just as I notice the finer details when I am looking in a focused area.

Also like water, I follow the trail of least resistance.  I don’t blaze a new path unless the one I am on becomes too difficult for me to maneuver around. Water will go where it can before breaking a new path.  I too flow quicker when heading downhill letting gravity direct me. Water only destroys the land by following its own path over and over again unless a new path has to be created because there is too much or because it must make a new one. Hikers also follow a trail repeatedly with minimal impact on the land unless there is something that makes us move another direction for some time.  Most of us understand that we can destroy the land around the trails if we are not careful. IMG_20170717_130709693

This is in contrast to other users of the land who don’t understand erosion or choose not to care.  They take their motorized vehicles and push through wherever they wish creating new trails all the time.  They also break down the brush and other formations.  This creates new trails and paths for the water to follow thus bringing more destruction that would not have otherwise happened.

When out on a trail, it is important to limit our impact on the earth and the landscape as much as we can.  We should hike like water.

Rest Day: Day 64

Yesterday turned into a rest day. It is a needed day no matter what type of endeavor we are taking on.  It is also a difficult one to allow ourselves.  Yesterday I was exhausted from all the cleaning, cooking, hiking, and visiting done over the holiday weekend.  I had planned on cleaning, grading, and exercising, but exhaustion got the better of me.  I sat on the computer and did little except for some stretching.  I felt guilty and ate too.  But the rest day did wonders.

Today, I was able to do everything that I had wanted to do in the two days.  I was highly motivated most of the day.  The house is clean, the bedding is washed, grading is done, and prepping for class has been completed.  Yoga was delightful.

I woke up this morning with a stiff and aching back and legs.  Now I feel stretched and ready for tomorrow.  I have wondered through the last 63 days if I should allow myself a rest day with the exercise but didn’t because most of the exercising was light.  Now after three days of hiking, I can see the benefit and also realize that had I been exercising as I had thought I would have for the challenge, I would have needed to have had rest days.  I hope to continue on the same momentum we built this weekend, so my down days will have to be yoga.

The saying, the body at rest stays at rest may be true much of the time because it is hard to get started, but a body that doesn’t rest, cannot continue indefinitely.

Letdown: Day 63

The family left today.  We got up, had breakfast out, visited with my parents, and they packed up and left. We didn’t have time for a quick hike before breakfast, and when we got back to my house, it was time for them to pack up and go.  It is a bit of a letdown.

We talked about things we hadn’t before and about the next time we would see each other.  There was a lot of last minute stuff happening.  Then they were gone.  The house was quiet. There was nothing I needed to do.  My body went into shutdown mode asking for a nap which I granted it.  Then I thought that I would be productive and start getting ready for work on Monday and cleaning, but I was too sluggish.

There suddenly was no energy for work or even reading.  I spent a lot of time on the computer doing mindless things instead of what I really should have been doing.  Then I would walk into the kitchen to eat something I shouldn’t have eaten.  This is a mental and physical struggle.  I want to be busy, I want to be good.  My body and mind have different agendas for me.  Their agenda is to rest.

I don’t rest well. I feel guilty that I am not doing something.  I should be hiking, cleaning, making something.  So instead of letting myself rest completely, I fill the time with food and junk internet stuff. Instead of being productive, I am procrastinating.  And, I still have my exercising to do today because we didn’t hike.

After I allow myself to rest these next couple of days, I need to be sure that I get back out on the trail and hike.  I cannot allow the weather to stop me for I have already seen that it isn’t all that bad to be hiking in cold or windy weather.

This weekend was our start to a 52 week challenge to go out and hike at least once a week.  I have the start, now I need to continue it like I am the 100 day challenge.

So even though, I am feeling a bit of a letdown, I need to get back out there and get over it.

Opting Outside At Hazen: Day 62ish

For Black Friday, our family always opts outside.  Like I said before, we were doing it long before it was a thing. We used to play in the forest or on the beach.  Now we hike.  We hike wherever we happen to be.  This Black Friday, the closest hiking location that I haven’t taken everyone to happened to be at Hazen. One of my cousins and I have hiked there several times, but the others have not.

The morning started late.  We headed out around 11 instead of earlier in the week. The late nights have started to catch up to us, and we were moving slower.  The air was warmer than the previous two days, but the wind was beginning to blow.  It didn’t stop us.  We were on a mission to hike every day that they were there.

We decided to start uIMG_20180621_123948739p the hill at the steepest point then finish up with an easier trail. The trail we took was a three mile loop.  Everyone is amazed at the distance and rise that we must make to get to the saddle between the two buttes.  It is almost a mile from the parking to the saddle, all up hill at a pretty good grade.  It isn’t difficult with rocks to climb or ruts to navigate, but it is steep and steady.  But once at the top, the view is great.

We discussed climbing the butte, but our legs were tired from the climbing the previous two days and this first leg. So we opted to continue on around the hill. The trail was great and we were having a good conversation until we moved out away from the hills. Then the wind hit us with such force that we could have leaned into it, and it would have held us up.  The first gust pushed us around until we got our footing.

From there on, we were heads down and moving on with a speedier pace.  I learned that I have a pretty consistent pace though.  Fast is not that much different from my steady pace – though it really is not that fast. The wind made conversation pretty much nonexistent.  We were happy when we got back to the car and were able to get out of it.  But, all in all, the hike was a good one.

Next Thanksgiving and Black Friday should be on the coast.

Peak Bagging: Day 61

Thanks Giving day and we opted outside for a bit.  We took a hike at the local hill that overlooks the town and the county.  It is a fun hill to hike because there are many trails that crisscross and loop around.  A person has many choices to make so the trail can different every time.

Today we started out taking the longer less steep slopes.  We climbed up to the first peak and looked over town noticing how many trees there actually are in the area.  Then we went to another nob on the hill and looked out over the trap club, the raceway, and the reservoir.  The breeze was cool and blowing my hair into my face, but we relished the sun.  We watched a local run their dog by putting them out of the truck and driving making the dog run after them, a local method of dog walking. Then we looked around and discussed the other peaks and whether or not we needed to be on top of all of them.  The consensus was that we needed to find out what lay beyond each one.

We crossed over the low part of the hill top to the next highest peak.  Standing on that my brother wondered where the breweries were.  We took that time to pose for silly pictures.  We danced, pretended to push each other off the peak, and were goofy.  Descending from that one we crossed to the cross and looked out over the reservation then crossed again to the lesser rises. Finishing up, we started to return to the car, but decided that we had to check out the only cave on the hill. Then we wandered back down and around to the car zigzagging around following random trails.

All in all, we climbed six peaks on the one hill today.  It was fun seeing how we have these needs to see or complete all challenges that we face or to experience all the curiosities that come our way.  Today it was all the peaks. Yesterday it was over the next rise. Next time it could be around the coming bend.

Grimes Point Ridge: Day 60

This morning in the 35 degree weather, I took my family on a hike to Grimes Point where there are petroglyphs.  The trail is less than a mile, but it extends into a trip up the mountain to a lookout.  From there we followed the ridgeline half way to the Hidden Caves portion of the park.

This trail has a lot of ups and downs because of the ridge walking.  I really like this trail because it is so wide open.  It is high desert landscape at the edge of the ancient Lake Lahontan.  This is where we can look across to other mountains in the range and see the water marks for different levels.  The petroglyphs possibly show hunting symbols, and the caves were homes or protection along the lake’s edge.  I love that I can see across the valley and see the other side of town and the navy base.  I can stand and watch the maneuvers of the airplanes and hear the roar of the jets as they take off.

Sharing it today was fun.  We weren’t cold as long as we kept moving. The sun wasn’t too bright.  We talked about anything that came to our minds.  We laughed and raced.  We gasped for air when the trail became tough.  But through it all, we were inspiring each other to keep going.  We learned that my brother is also like us.  All of us have to see what is over the mountain.  Even though we think we are only going so far, we continue until we are at the top so that we know what is up there or down in the next valley. Today we were rewarded with a US Geological survey marker. At the top of the mountain, just before the trail starts down again, is lava rock with tufa and lichen on it, and in the middle, is the marker cemented to the rock.  It is quite picturesque.  I am glad to have experienced finding it with the family. When I first found it, I was by myself and didn’t know that it was going to be there.  It was a nice surprise.  This time we were looking for it, but still enjoyed the hunt.

Sharing old or loved hiking locations with family makes the location special again. It is a time of sharing instead of discovering.


16 Months: Day 59

My cousin notified me that the reservations for the PCT passes for the 2019 season opened this month and were taken almost right away.  That go us thinking about what we have to do to be prepared in 2020 when we want to go.  We would like to get the prime departure days of March or April, so we are going to have to be aware and ready to get them next November.

We have a lot of other things to do too.  We have to get busy hiking every weekend.  One hike a month is not going to prepare us for our grand adventure.  We will have to eat right and exercise regularly.  No more just accepting that we are doing more than normal as I have been these last few weeks.  I have to make a concerted effort to use my time wisely and physically.

I have agreed to do a 52 week challenge of hiking at least once a week.  We also will make sure that we hike together more often.  This year we haven’t even made it once a month.  We have some longer hikes planned, but we need to do some day hikes too.  The 52 week challenge and the hiking together will be starting this weekend.  We are going to go hiking on the Grimes Point ridgeline tomorrow and make sure that we get in two more hikes while everyone is here this weekend.  Then we will have to start setting dates to hike so that I won’t fill my weekends up with no time for the great outdoors.

With all this in mind, my cousin, who likes numbers, realized that we have 16 months to prepare for our trip.  We need to also get our gear lighter.  We should have someone go through it with us.  I was hoping a colleague would do it, but he has since retired.  So now we will see if we can find someone else do a shake down.  I need to start making myself drink more water because I will need to be used to drinking the greater amounts of water to drink enough on my trip.  We will have to get our resupply figured out and start packing those boxes.

What gets me the most is by putting a number on how long before our trip, it feels so much closer.  All this time I’ve been saying we are going to hike the PCT in 2020.  That makes it seem far away. Something that will eventually come but it is not pressing to prepare.  However, stating that it is 16 months away, things get real and the time becomes more immediate. It is now imperative to prepare because those months will just slip away. To make it even more urgent, we can put it inot weeks.  We have 64 weeks before we would like to leave on our trip. That is 64 hikes that we need to do.  But we also need to be sure to hike more than just the once a week trips.  We need long ones, we need short day trips, we need to use our time hiking.