February was a month of newfound freedoms. This long rehab (link) has given me an appreciation of things normally taken for granted.
I began the month by walking crutch-free on nearby trails like those at Lema Ranch made available to the public by McConnell Foundation.
The Sacramento River Trail in Redding provided opportunities to dream about the snow I’d be missing this year.
I found the confidence to try the sandy paths at Turtle Bay Arboretum Gardens.
With time I moved from the wide paths to expand my exploration.
With warm spring days the turtles decided to make an appearance.
Slow steps gave me time to watch early spring brighten the gardens.
The Lenten roses in their various hues captured my attention.
The summer snowflake seemed to be an appropriate name as we transition from winter to spring.
Euphorbias are a favorite.
I had time to study all the mosaic art details.
I found more early blooms on my neighborhood walks.
The paved trail surrounding nearby Mary Lake was another place where I could practice walking while enjoying nature.
By mid month I was feeling the need to escape. I hadn’t been more than 30 minutes from town since before my surgery. So I took a drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park where I could at least feel the tease of snow.
As I continued my loop drive I just HAD to stop by and visit an old friend.
I couldn’t resist the urge to test my footing on this beautiful path, after all I just happened to have my hiking poles in the car.
To say I was elated was an understatement. YES I walked 2.5 miles on the PCT!
At the end of January, with crutch assistance, I was able to walk 4 miles; but, in early February, without the crutch, I was maxing out at 2.5-3 miles per session. I came up with the brilliant win/win solution of carrying my UL chair and lunch so I could turn my outing into two sessions. SUCCESS! I made it 6.5 miles with a few sit down breaks while out on the Sacramento River Rail Trail, and by carrying the pack I was getting ready for a future backpack trip.
As my gait improved, I was motivated to find easy terrain like nicely switchbacked Princess Ditch Trail, part of the Muletown Recreation Area.
I was rewarded with a few blooms including these shooting stars.
My next walk was on the Cloverdale Loop Trail in the Clear Creek Greenway Recreation Area.
I found one patch of Indian Warriors.
One of the most challenging to photograph, Buttercup.
My final walk of February was on the Yana Trail at the Sacramento River Bend Recreation Area, where the Sacramento River and Lassen Peak are showcased.
This area should be full of color in another few weeks. On this visit the Blue Dicks were just starting to open.
After the past few weeks, I’m feeling much more optimistic about my potential to hike and backpack this summer. The surgeon said I most likely would be ready to begin hiking in April, thus the reason I’m calling these dirt trail excursions, walks. At my last physical therapy appointment I completed a survey about my recovery. One question was whether I could walk stairs. I answered NO. The therapist challenged me and said you can’t or haven’t tried. I said I don’t have stairs. He took me to the hall where there was a 12-step staircase. Ok YES I can!!! So now I’ve been incorporating nearby stairs into my walks. I’d already been using an aerobic step at home and had worked my way up to 15″.
February was a great rehab month! It was a huge improvement over the proceeding months. March is going to be even better. Every day of walking is getting me one step closer to hiking and backpacking. I’m grateful for public lands with varied trails. Summer is coming and I’m going to be ready! But first, I’ll enjoy a spring filled with butterflies and wildflowers.