YAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOO! I did it! And then some. Boy Howdy am I thrilled.
I sit with a glass of champagne and an aching lower body as I recall the events of the 2 1/2 hours I spent in the Chuckanut mountains today.
I really wanted to hike up to Fragrance Lake, so the initial plan was to drive one car to the parking lot near the lake and leave it there. Then, when we were done hiking the two miles up to the lake, we could walk to the car and drive down to the car at the trail head. But, truth be told, there was something in me that not only desperately wanted to hike up and down, but knew I could. When it came time to leave the house I had to decide, do we take both cars or can I commit to 4 miles?
We drove to the trail head and started up the trail. The sun was shining and there were scores of other people hiking the same trail. What was I thinking that I might see some trail-side plants? It's still February! Instead there was a sea of sword ferns blanketing the forests floor. Deep deep green amidst the brown duff of fir and cedar.
After we hit the half way point 45 minutes into the hike, Tessa twisted her ankle. She didn't want it to hurt, but Mark and I could tell it did. Reluctantly she and Mark headed back to the car and I decided to go on by myself the rest of the way.
Maybe this was a blessing in disguise. I'm used to hiking alone; in the past my friends often had to keep their own pace. They always waited for me at a resting point, but I am used to being with my thoughts and my panting breathe as I walk alone.
As I did, I thought about how much easier this all was than I expected. What was I thinking limiting myself to 2 miles? I can do 6 or 8! But then I rounded another switchback and wondered when the hell the lake would appear! The last half mile was tough, more on my lungs than my legs.
I finally got to the lake about 45 minutes after parting from Mark and Tessa. Teary eyed, puffed up from this accomplishment, I kept walking until I found a bench. I sat for about 5 minutes, relished the moment, washed my four (!) heart rocks in the lake and headed back down.
This C-leg is amazing. I can walk foot over foot, bearing weight on my prosthetic leg while it's bent. Walking down was a breeze. When I've hiked in the past, this is the part that really tweaks my lower back. But today, I walked down easily and quickly, probably in an hour. As I walked down the trail, it was the first time in a long time that walking felt so natural that I wanted to run. I ached to have my body let loose and run down the hill, the breeze flowing through my hair. Do nearly 50 year olds, even two-legged ones, run down hiking trails? I don't think so. I did what any dignified nearly-50 year old would do and walked down the trail. But I swear, it was like I was walking with ruby slippers on.
When I arrived at the trail head, Mark and Tessa were in the car waiting for me. I thought I would cry; I thought I would feel utter relief. Instead I felt blissed out. I was all smiles.
What dawned on me today with intense clarity is this: When I think of myself as disabled, I am. When I think of myself as not disabled, I'm not. I think Tessa was right: I'm disabled and I'm not. My leg teaches me about the paradox of life.
Today, I felt alive and my own brand of normal. Holy cow, I walked FOUR miles today!