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Monday, September 25, 2017

I Feel Your Pain


The day after a profound autumn downpour in Lovely Ouray, Bobbie and I joined a group of hiking friends and their dog-children for a hike up to (one of several) Ouray Overlook viewpoints. There is nothing quite like the aroma of wet leaves and foliage, a dusting of trackless snow on the trail, and the feeling of drawing deep breaths of chilled air to better set the mood for a transition to winter. Ahhhh...


We rendezvous at the Weehawken trail head, only a ten minute drive up Camp Bird Road. Tamera and Bruce introduce us to their friend, Gretchen and her dog, Luke, and we introduce to her our friend Lenard, and we are off. Having been diagnosed with a serious "bone spur" on his heel and now enduring the five week waiting list for surgery, old "Leon" shouldn't be hiking. But lifelong athletes don't deal with "sedentary orders" very well. When it comes to a choice between enduring pain or losing one's sanity, pain is a forgone conclusion. He gives it a go...wincing with every step. 


      

After a little over a mile, Leon's done in by his bone spur. He limps over to a canyon's edge to meditate away some of the angst, pain, and frustration of being out of commission. That's the last we see of him. At least he got outdoors...a "consolation prize" at best, especially if he can't attack it. 

The rest of the gang moves on, shedding clothes as the trail ascends at hypoxic gradients that twist through recalcitrant aspen groves, refusing to change into their fall wardrobe.










Anorexic pines, left in the above photo, remind me of Alaskan forests 

Imogene Pass in the upper right corner. No Jeeps today, I bet.


The trail ultimately dead-ends into a precipice payoff; Lovely Ouray, cradled in the bosom of its mountain mama. The aspen forest's lack of fall color is made up for by the "blowout's" brilliance, red cliffs, and a white capped skyline.














My thoughts return to Leon as I jog back down the trail. It's Hell to be on "injured reserve;" I know this and can sympathize because it's a place I frequent. Below is a selection from Leon's writings...something he does when on I R....

Somewhere inside of pain and suffering is the mystery of existence. To a "life is good" athlete, to live well is to suffer. We recognize pain as necessary, that to keep the body from decaying we must accept pain...not only accept it, but seek it, live it, flow with it, and learn not to fear it.

Pain is always personal. One’s pain can not be felt by another.

Get well, my friend. I miss you out on the trail, post-holing through waist deep snow. I miss racing our mountain bikes up Log Hill, too...but I don't miss you beating me to the top. :)
I feel your pain,
mark 



14 comments:

  1. Thanks for the Overlook memories. There was also snow on the trail when we were there a year ago.

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  2. Wondering how Lenard became Leon but sure have sympathy for him. Not being able to do what you've always done is the biggest complaint of everyone I know when they age. Love love those pictures of Ouray in the bowl of the mountains. Love those snow covered peaks and trails. I could use some of that snow here in Virginia where it is 10 to 15 degrees warmer - read that upper 80's - than it normally is at the end of September. Should have stayed in Maine longer.

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    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Russell
      I dubbed him "Leon" due to his white hair and beard that reminded me of Leon Russel :)
      It's a compliment!
      mark

      Delete
  3. It was good to finally hike with you and Bobbie again, even though we lagged far behind you for the majority of the trail. :P

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    1. I raced down because I found a nice kid's jacket and was hoping to catch up with the owner...I think that little redheaded kid with dad and dog we saw on the way up. I guess I wasn't fast enough so I left it hanging on at the trailhead. :(

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  4. Glad I was able to introduce you to that trail ;-)
    Gayle

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    1. Me Too! We always thought the mine car was the end and turned around there...also because of the limited views of a woods hike. It's a favorite now, ranking right below Twin Peaks...which I'm dying to introduce you to :).

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  5. Gorgeous. I love the snow-topped mountains but it's odd that the aspens haven't totally changed yet.

    I understand Leon's words so well. I have congenital spine issues that have put me on the sidelines many times in my life, including now. Yet, even through the pain, I keep trying like Leon did. The outdoors is my haven from all the craziness in this world.

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    Replies
    1. Bummer... Keep trying cause the alternative is worse than the pain.

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  6. Enjoyed the leisurely hike. That's about my limit, nowadays. Give Leon our best. Old age sucks.

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    1. It does beat not being here tho...uh, sometimes. :(

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  7. "Pain is always personal." Indeed. Often existential pain is worse than physical pain, so we endure one to soothe the other. I hope your friend feels better soon.

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    1. "we endure one to soothe the other," So true...
      and the "reckoning day" eventually comes when one pays for the bodily trauma inflicted during their "no limits" youth.
      FYI, I wouldn't have it any other way...
      thanks,
      mark

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  8. Lovely pictures and words, as always!
    I can relate to Leon's words about pain. I recently pulled a muscle at the end of a rib doing some whitewater rafting (term used loosely) on my cataraft. As I contemplated how easily the injury happened after just a couple of hours of exertion, I realized I'm aging. WTH??!! I'm definitely not a poet, but the incident inspired these words.
    "My being yearns for the adventure, how can I resist?
    How can I ignore the urging? I will not be remiss.
    Nature calls out to my spirit, 'Come explore my wonders!'
    And so it is I cannot quit; age is just a number."

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