I spend most of my time in Montana glaring at the peaks of mountains and trying to ascertain how to get to the top of them.
The Waterline Trail behind the library has a grueling hike that I've attempted more than five times in the last year. I get about halfway and can't take another step upward. It is a hot hike. There aren't many switchbacks. My hips cry, igniting my neuropathy. My heart shudders and I have to sit every five steps or so. My breath is raw and ragged. Eventually, I can't stand up after resting without being so dizzy that I literally can't walk.
Yesterday, the weather was cold and cloudy. My body felt good. I got to where I normally give up and could still breathe! So, the puppy and I kept going. And going. And going. We would crest a rise, I would drop to the rocks, take some pictures, and wonder how much farther it was to the actual top.
One hour later, I slipped and slid over a muddy patch of snow to reach the final peak. 5221 feet elevation!
The hike back was hard, too, just in different ways. The trail was about 2-3 inches thick with mud about 40% of the time. On such a steep hike, this was treacherous on the way down. Not to mention that by now I was truly exhausted. It is much different to carelessly stomp my way up slopes, dropping at the wayside when my heart falters or my breathing hurts, compared to finely controlling tired muscles and fatigued balance.
I did it, though. No falls. No pulled muscles. It took another hour to get back to the car, despite being mostly downhill, because of how much more slowly I needed to move.
I am incredibly proud of how much I've learned in the last five years to balance the limits of my body and this disease. I still make mistakes. I should have brought food, but I never imagined I'd actually go all the way. I should have spent some time lying down in the car before driving when I was done. This was incredibly stupid and reckless on my part, but that is the nature of the hazard. When I get fatigued, my critical thinking falters. It's why I'm at risk of easily getting lost when I hike.
I've decided from this experience that I'm going to make a checklist for post-hiking. Have you eaten? Have you had water? Have you been flat for ten minutes? And so on. Something external (since Dan isn't always there to steer my safety) to keep me honest. Those of us suffering from chronic illness call this a spoonie hack.
I made it to the top.