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Readers who’ve been following The Goodbye Baby blog know that I’ve adopted hiking as an essential part of life. But for now, it’s all I can do to walk a mile. I’ve been a prisoner of my house, slowly recovering from the worst hiking injury in 50 years of roaming around in the mountains. Here’s THE SHORT VERSION…

Nambe Lake was our destination on that fateful September 22nd

The first day of Autumn, as I was hiking uphill to Nambe Lake (11,374 feet), I

and ending up feeling much like Kafka’s unfortunate narrator Gregor Samsa who awoke one morning to find himself transformed…into a gigantic insect. -(Metamorphis)

During the jolting, I must have closed my eyes. No one witnessed my fall. As I try to piece things together, this, it seems to me, is what happened: While climbing along the creek bank , I slipped on something (I’ll never know whether it was a root or boulder), twisted myself into a downhill orientation, contorted, and ended face-up, IN THE CREEK. On rocks and logs, thankfully cushioned by my backpack and it’s water-filled Camelbak.

Last year’s Nambe Lake experience, after taking “the easy way.”

There were abundant reasons NOT to be taking this particular hike. The next day, my son and I were scheduled to hike the 13,000 foot Santa Fe Baldy. I could have, should have rested up for the next day’s long, challenging adventure. But oh no, I did not want to miss out on the viewing the splendors of my favorite Alpine lake.

There were five of us that day. Unwisely, I didn’t ascertain that we would be taking the dry land route to Nambe Lake (as opposed to the slippery riverbank route).
A less challenging way, a route which I’ve often hiked, parallels the Nambe River and becomes a bit tricky only at the very end. Once we were at the meadow with one trail going up the “safe” way and the other going to the riverbank, a vote was not taken. The lead hikers took off for the riverbank way and we all followed. (Why did I ignore the mental alarm bells?)

Only when we were clawing our way up the muddy sides of the little river did I realize, with a chill, that I had no business being here. Uneasiness grew into fear, as I saw that we were very scattered and I wasn’t sure I knew the way. I looked above me and saw our lead hiker’s booted feet forging ahead and upward. Next thing I knew, I was lying, my back throbbing with pain, in shallow, rock-filled water, feet heading not up but down. (How had I managed to trip and twist myself into this awkward position?)

Never underestimate the treacherous power of roots!

My hiking friends came quickly in answer to my screams, walked me three painful miles out of the forest, took me to Urgent Care. No broken bones: a good thing. But there was soft tissue battering and bruising. Needless to say, there would be no hike up Santa Fe Baldy with my son, maybe not until next hiking season. Instead, I began days of an acutely sore back and midriff. Out of commission. Down for the count. Miserable.
I’m going to be OK, thanks to friends doing many acts of kindness, the mailman bringing mail to the door, and treatments including arnica, epsom salts baths, a wonder product called “Boswellia,”physical therapy and acupuncture (www.pinoncommunityacupuncture.com). Walking still wears me out, but I’m able to go for a mile, adding a bit more distance each day. For the next weeks or months, it will be “life in the slow lane.” It could have been worse, and after all, the entire episode has made me aware of how much I have for which to be grateful. Lessons that would not have been learned if I’d stayed home.


Join author Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Comments invited!