Friday, October 31, 2014

Hiker Progress

Somewhere on the Florida Trail

Here's an update on my injured knee.
After a week of walking a little then hobbling a lot, I am now hobbling very little and walking much better.  While waiting on car work today I walked around a wholesale store for over an hour, looking at everything.  I even went down rows where there was nothing to interest me.  It felt good to just walk.  Not that my knee is perfectly healed, but at least I can maneuver around shoppers and carts and not have to grab for something every time I turn.  This healing is real improvement, and though it is slow I am very pleased with it.
I had been planning a backpacking trip for November, but will have to put that off until I am comfortable with walking again.  My goal is to backpack at least 10-15 miles at a time, before stopping to camp, and doing the same miles again the next day. I am concerned about uneven surfaces, balance and big steps, like going over logs and fallen trees.
Getting out won't be easy for me next week either, all my time is already scheduled.  Maybe I can go for a morning walk outdoors enjoying the cool temps.  At least the Florida weather will cool down over the weekend with lows in the 50's and highs in the low 70's.  The weather here will be nice.  If you can get outside, this is the time to do it here.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Colorado Summer Hikes I Miss

It is that autumn time of the year when I really miss hiking in the Colorado Mountains!  The snow is (mostly) gone from mountain trails, the days are cool and the stars are awesome on moonless nights.
My family would travel to Rocky Mountain National Park often to enjoy Trail Ridge Road with views of the Never Summer Mountains.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park was another favorite, along with summer road trips throughout the region to the Western Slope, Steamboat Springs, and Mesa Verde near Durango.  Also riding the narrow gauge railroads and learning about the local history was awesome!  The backwoods drives were beautiful with so much to see, my wife often reminded me to keep my eyes on the road.
Check out these 5 inspiring Colorado trails and trips to get a taste of what it is like there.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Left My Heart At Wounded Knee

I hurt my knee again 2 years ago when I broke my hip and it has only gotten worse with popping and unsteadiness when walking.  The pain is minimal, but it can still really hurt if I somehow twist it the wrong way.
Walking along the Sanford River Walk by Lake Monroe
As a hiker/backpacker/bicyclist/walker my knees are incredibly important to my personal forms of travel.   Being unable to walk or bicycle much without my knee popping and being unsteady during the super-hot summer was just bearable.
I have been to a doctor and to a knee specialist while trying to fix it.  Fortunately the X-Ray and MRI show damage there is minimal, not requiring surgery.  But still the popping and unsteadiness continue. 
I was given a shot of Cortizone in the knee last week, and I am exercising it again and am really trying to improve my walking situation.  I was able to walk 3 miles along the waterfront in Sanford last weekend without any pain and with only a little weakness.
My plan is to just continue exercising and walking, increasing distance daily and weekly until I'm back up to my 15+ miles of off pavement travel in a day.  I figure that if I can make it to that goal of 15 miles a day, I can eventually make 20-25 miles of continuous hiking/backpacking/walking that I'll need to do in order to hike a long trail like the AT.  Of course that is a long way off.  If I'm able to backpack again on over night trips with my ultralight backpack (9 pounds base weight) by late winter/early spring I will be a happy hiker!
For bicycling, I will focus on riding the indoor bicycle in the gym, moving to my mountain bike for short rides outdoors.  20 miles is the distance I had been riding recently, so I will work on increasing that distance closer to the summertime.  While not my 200 mile week rides of old, I am just happy to be out there again.
Please bear with me while I take baby steps to get better, I believe it will all pay off in the end.
The good news is the temperatures in Florida are much cooler now and if the rain holds off, I will be able to walk and bicycle enough to slowly improve my condition. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall is Here!

Looking north along the Atlantic Ocean.  Notice the hotels?  Nope.
Finally the fall weather has arrived in central Florida!
Last Sunday it was 62 degrees when I got going.  There was a cool breeze and the sky was crystal clear.  It even sounded different, like it does when the weather first changes temperature.
I drove to meet my friend Walt who cooked both of us a delicious breakfast with lots of hot coffee. Then we headed east to New Smyrna Beach where we raised a drink to the surf before driving south to Canaveral National Seashore.  Walt had just turned 62 this year and got us into the park for free with his new pass.  We drove in free and cruised along the coastal dune to the turnaround at the end of 6 paved miles.
And looking south, no hotels here either!
The car windows were open and we sat enjoying the cool wind waiting on a parking space, listening to the waves crash below.  After a few minutes waiting we drove back north to the next available parking space and walked down to the beach on the boardwalk.  Just watching the waves rush in and out was fine for me.  We waved at the Park Rangers and the people walking by, watched the surf fishermen cast lines about and followed the gulls as they flew overhead in the breeze.  This was nice.  No bugs, no heat and actually the wind was a bit chilly without a second shirt on.  I could stand here all day, leaning against the dry wooden rails and just stare out to sea.
The State House
Comfortable rockers!
An explosion of plant life above with Resurrection Ferns in the Live Oaks
The view from the rocking chairs.
Coral Honeysuckle, a Florida variety.  It doesn't smell as strong as northern varieties.
We drove up to the restored State House where we sat in the porch rockers watching the boat traffic and fishing people along the Intracoastal Waterway in Mosquito Lagoon.  Crowds came and went.  More birds flew by.  I noticed our conversation had gone quiet as we contemplated life's details.  I could also sit here, rocking all day, quietly.  It was nice to get peaceful.   One of the neatest things about using the free entrance pass is you don't feel you have to spend your every moment living to the fullest anymore.  You don't have to hike all the trails or get a line in the water to fish or see all the museums and displays.  You can slow down and just enjoy a short drive in a cool place that you probably wouldn't take before.
Intracoastal Waterway looking north from JB's
After a couple hours, a couple conversations and talking about a couple of dreams, we left and drove north to have lunch at JB's, a favorite eating stop along the barrier island. We waited a while after lunch on the dock, again just watching and listening.  There are some days I need to do just that and nothing else and today was that day.  I celebrated the end of summer's heat and bugs by leaning back and doing very little.  To end today with a quote, that made all the difference.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Rain, Rain, Rain...

Thanks to Weather Underground for this forecast
It has rained in central Florida almost every day the past 2 weeks, and is forecast to pour for another week or two.  Some of this rain comes down in a deluge, flooding streets, homes and businesses.  The winds are strong, the lightning is fierce and you get soaked just stepping out of the carport to get into your car.  The weather is reminiscent of a hurricane, although it is not tropical in nature.
It looks like we may get a (short) reprieve this Friday, Sunday and Monday.  If so, I'll be out there somewhere.
So hiking and bicycling during these mini-monsoons is not going to be very dry, much less very safe.
The wet weather has also affected trail maintenance of the Florida Trail, forcing cancellations of some of the (very needed) annual trail clearing work due to too much water still on the ground.
However the main difference is with the temperatures.  The daily highs have dropped by 10 - 15 degrees, even 20 degrees before and after a heavy rainfall.  It is now warm, instead of hot, with some lows in the (gasp) mid-50's!  I can do warm, all day.
For those who like to hike in a gentle rain, please be safe and avoid the daily thunderstorms.
As soon as this rainy spell ends, I'll be hiking again.  And I will be writing about it and the wonderful Florida fall weather.  I hope to see you out there!