Hikes & Ice

On January 25th, I fell on an icy Calgary sidewalk and injured the muscles around my hip. During the following week, I thought I was recovering enough to do a hike in the mountains and then a long walk on ice-covered Lake Louise. Two days later I couldn’t hobble across my kitchen without feeling pain. This prompted me to see my doctor and a physiotherapist.  

An X-ray determined no fractures, broken bones, or misalignment. The physiotherapist thought my injuries were relatively minor and said they should resolve in a few weeks with rest, exercise, and physio treatments. The problem was that I was scheduled to leave in two weeks for a hiking holiday in Arizona with 33 members of my Calgary hiking club. The physio and I doubted I’d be able to hike by then and, if I could, the exertion might set my recovery back, as it had done on the earlier hike and Lake Louise walk.

I still planned to go on the trip but prepared to spend some or all of the days resting my hip in the Airbnb house my husband Will and I were renting with some other club members. I downloaded numerous books to read and organized writing work to do on my computer. It wouldn’t be terrible to relax outdoors in warm sunshine and I’d still enjoy evening dinners and entertainment with the group, but the prospect of missing the main purpose of the trip was disappointing. 

My progress through four physio sessions was slow. I faithfully did my exercises and barely stepped outside for two weeks. The weekend before we left, I tried a few neighbourhood walks. After half an hour, my hip was sore and I couldn’t wait to shuffle home. 

Will and I flew to Phoenix on February 20th and spent the next day walking around Scottsdale. My hip was fine but tired by the end. I still decided to try the shorter version of first hike the following day. To my surprise, I felt no discomfort with my hip. Nor did my muscles bother me much the next morning. So I joined my fellow hikers again and then again on day # 3. All of these hikes involved clambering over big rocks. How many rocks could there be in Arizona? 

Day # 4 featured a hike along Saguaro Lake, which I’d done seven years earlier and recalled as being relatively easy. The elevation was less than that of first three hikes and the lakeside trail was mainly dirt with small rocks to step around. A picnic lunch and relaxing boat cruise on the lake followed and then an evening at the Silver Star dinner theatre with 1950s & early 60s that brought back memories. 

The fifth day’s hike was longer the previous ones (about 14 km vs 8 km). I suggested to my housemates that we do something shorter, but they wanted to go with the group and I went along. I’m glad I did and I enjoyed the first half of the hike, but my hip ached with every step of the last section. I decided 8 km was the limit for my hip. The highlight of this hike was a rare crested saguaro cactus. The abnormal growth formation at the top is found in one in roughly 10,000 saguaros. 

On day # 6, we drove to Wilcox, Arizona, our gateway to the Chiricahua National Monument. The first afternoon we did an 8 km hike over comfortable terrain to a view of Natural Bridge. 

For our final hike of the trip, the plan was to do a 14+ km long loop. After six straight days of hiking, nine of us opted for a shorter loop through fabulous scenery at a leisurely pace. It was the one day I wanted to keep on walking at the end. 

The forecast called for rain starting at noon, but the sunshine stayed in the park. Will and I enjoyed a late lunch at a beautiful viewpoint.  

Now I’m home and my hip still feels a little sore, but I can’t say the seven days of hiking set my recovery back. I’m grateful I was able to experience so many wonderful sights and great companionship on the trails. These days, I’m giving my hip its well-deserved rest, doing my exercises faithfully (more or less), and trying to avoid another fall on Calgary’s icy sidewalks.