Even though I’ve been back to walking for a number of weeks, I’ve avoided hikes with sustained elevation changes. The uphill isn’t what worried me; I was more worried about coming down, striking my foot and my big toe again and again and again.
This Thursday, I got the final X-rays on my once-broken big toe and confirmation that it is healing as hoped for. This means I also got the go-ahead from the orthopedist to start doing mild impact activities as tolerated.
So for the first time since December, we took our dog Pele on a walk with some sustained downhill. Since this was our first test, we chose a short one: one mile up, one mile down.
We took one of my favorite hiking trails near our house. It’s close enough that we can get there in about fifteen minutes, but far enough away that we won’t run into too many people, even on a sunny weekend morning. It’s short enough that it makes a nice break from my work day if I’m stuck on a problem, but long enough that I actually feel like I get away and get some distance from said problems. From the top of the first saddle point (our destination—we’ll probably go further as I test my toe more), there’s a view of the Rocky Mountain foothills to one side and the Denver skyline on the other.
On the way up, we caught the first spring shoots of green in dead grass. We listened to birds singing for under a blue sky dotted by one little cloud on the horizon. The elevation change was just enough that the saddle point was dusted with lingering drifts of snow, and so the walk itself felt like the transition between spring and winter and then back again into spring.
As frustrating and annoying as it has been to have to manage this broken bone, coming out the other side of it gave me a deep appreciation for something that used to be commonplace: the sunshine, the feeling of energy circulating through my body, the joy of being able to move and reach even a short summit after months of being away.
Being able to move without pain is a privilege, and I’m grateful that I can do it again.