Sunday, April 28, 2013

Off Balance

The physical therapist eyed me critically. "You're...crooked," he said. "One leg is 3/8 of an inch longer than the other. Your body has really been compressed as a result of trauma."

A year after my trail running fall, I had suspected as much, but a $200 doctor visit had yielded only this: "Maybe don't run so much." I had to fight to be referred to PT, and now everything made sense. The band of pain when standing, low in my back. An ache when I ran, deep in the muscle. And this: just an indescribable feeling of imbalance, as if the way I walked through the world was no longer right.

There's also other types of imbalance, the kind that can be cured by spending a night on the high trail. This trail winds like a belt around the middle of Hells Canyon, passing through sweet benches that soar over empty space and abandoned pieces of homesteads. It is remote and wind-swept and peppered with flowers. We saw one pack string in twenty-four hours, even though it is gloriously spring in the canyon, seventy degrees as we lay on our thermarests taking in the view.

That's Idaho over there with all the snow. It's about 7 miles away.

our tents with only the mesh, the better to see the full moon.
This is the third time that I've climbed up and over Freezeout Saddle and I have to say I am ready to hike somewhere else, but the canyon doesn't let you in easily. You have to want to go there enough to trudge slowly upwards, plunge downwards on rocks like marbles, and do it all over again the next day.

Shadows fall as evening approaches.

Some elk came over to say hi.

Happiness. The green bag is my Z Packs 20 degree quilt/bag: I kept thinking of the song In the Pines: (we shiver when the cold wind blows) because I froze all night! I think it got to about 35 degrees or so. I obviously need some fine tuning with my "sleep system".
My physical imbalance seems to be cured, although the PT warned me that my body had gotten used to working with the way it was, and it might take some time for it to adjust. The other imbalance? It's temporarily cured; a weekend outside does it for a little while. but not for long.


  1. Beautiful weather! Glad your back is on the mend, going to the doctor is so frustrating sometimes. I had a doctor tell me that I was ruining my fertility when I came in weighing 120 lbs (perfectly fine for 5'6") with an IT Band issue. Got a new doc after that.

    Can you imagine how it would feel to be one of those people that believed everything a doctor said and never questioned their findings?

  2. Glad to read that you are finding a way toward balance, in the wild and in your trunk! You have always known that the wild had to be part of your balanced life.

  3. What a beautiful place you have to hike and explore! Glad to hear you are back in alignment.

  4. Glad you got to the PT, a good one can really make a difference. I know about putting it off though. Between stubborness and lack of funds I tend to put off going until something is really impacting my life. But knowing your own body is paramount, so not only do you seek treatment when you know you really need it but also so that you can evaluate what the doc is telling you and decide if it makes sense for you.
    Unfortunately as the years of various accidents and abuses pile up the twinges and pains an out-of-alignments reappear more frequently.
    But I'm a firm believer in taking charge of our own health, though learning not to 'over do' is a tough one, especially when the needs of your spirit and the needs of your body aren't quite in alignment. Perhaps life is one big adjustment :-O

  5. So glad you got some answers! I hope that provided some relief for you.

  6. Nice article and wonderful pictures! I also prefer physical therapy to reduce any kind of pain. It’s really very effective. I hope you will have recovered properly now.Physical therapy


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