June 22 2006
Was it only a few days ago I was in Vienna doing a show? I can’t imagine that because now I’m back in bird world, physically tired and sore and beaten up! I got back home Sunday evening, and Monday evening I hiked up Buckeye Canyon with a heavy backpack for another early morning bird survey. Tuesday after the survey I packed up and hiked out – and it about killed me. Was it really only 6 miles I’d hiked in? It felt like 20! My backpack felt like it had doubled in weight! Had someone snuck around and stuck rocks in my pack??
This was the same trail over which our endurance horses often carried us on training rides, trotting merrily along with their human passengers. Here I was struggling to keep putting one aching, really aching, foot in front of the other aching foot (downhill!). How do those horses do it so easily?
When I finally got back to my truck, unstrapping that backpack and taking my hiking boots off was like reaching nirvana. My shoulders ached, my back ached and felt bruised, the bottoms of my feet felt like they’d been beaten with a tire iron. Wah wah! What’s wrong with me? I did this all the time on the trail crew! It CAN’T be because I’m getting old!
Wednesday was another dawn bird survey – car camping, no hiking in! But I still felt sore all over, and when you stand in rubber boots in icy mountain creeks and swampy ponds for 5 hours, it doesn’t really help your sore feet. Maybe I could have stuck a heating pad down the boots? I didn’t even find any of the willow flycatchers I am looking for to make the morning exciting.
It’s the right foot that’s really bothering me – back in December I had to bail off a horse I was mounting because he bolted out from under me in panic, and I landed hard on the ball of the foot. It’s been bothering me on and off ever since – swells up till I can hardly walk on it – and THAT can’t have anything to do with getting older!
But it doesn’t hurt to ride, and I did get to ride with Gretchen last night – a gorgeous evening in Bridgeport – no wind, no bugs (!), beautiful sunset over the lakes, and the horses seemed to enjoy it also. They needed this good training ride, as they have a 2-day endurance ride this weekend. I won’t make it till Sunday’s ride because of more bird surveys I have to get done.
I hope I will make it at all, as my foot was so sore and swollen in the evening I had to soak it in Epsom salts and resort to Ibuprofen. It wasn’t any better this morning, Thursday, and this evening I have to carry my heavy backpack in a couple of miles again, do surveys in cold icy raging creeks Friday and Saturday mornings, and, if I can still walk, hike back out Saturday afternoon.
I have to make it out Saturday, even if I crawl, because even with a bum foot and aching back, I can still get on a horse Sunday and ride 50 miles! (I know, because I’ve done it before).