Back in the mountains

This weekend I was invited to go snowshoeing. I couldn’t see it anywhere on my rehab protocol, and didn’t imagine that it would be a recommended activity at this stage of rehab (too slidey and unpredictable.) So I was quite surprised when my physiotherapist told me to go ahead and have a great time, but to watch out for deep snow.

From the moment we arrived in the Cypress parking lot, I felt better about everything. I stood there for a minute or two just breathing that cold, clear mountain air, and it felt like my soul was being restored. Stepping out onto the snow with my snowshoes on was a strange moment; I felt like I owed my new ACL an explanation, the story of how this substance was responsible for its abrupt move from my left hamstring to the interior of my left knee. And then we started hiking, and I forgot everything. I was slow, I was plodding, I couldn’t walk downhill, but I was out there in the winter wonderland that I’ve missed so much. The trees were heavy with snow and crystals sparkled in a layer of unexpected sunshine above the clouds that blanketed the city.

When we reached the ski area boundary, my friend did her very best to convince me that “approved to snowshoe” did not mean “scramble up a stupidly steep slope with minimal snow cover that you have no idea how to get down.” By that point I’d come far enough that I was absolutely determined to get to the peak. In fairness to her, she was absolutely right – continuing was a really stupid idea. In fairness to me, I wasn’t having any difficulties with the climb and I was confident that I’d figure out a way to get back down.

Reaching the peak made it all worth it. I stood on top of a mountain that I’d climbed with my own two feet, with Howe Sound to my left and towering peaks to my right, and I felt as close to normal as I’ve been throughout this whole wretched rehab. I still can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel, but standing on the peak I could finally start to believe that it was there. Over on Black Mountain tiny skiers carved their way down to the lift, and I looked at them and truly believed that 100 days from now I’ll be there too.

Of course I did figure out a way down; I took off my left snowshoe, held my bad leg in the air to keep it out of the way (30,000 SLRs have to be good for something) and slid down the steepest sections on my butt, using the snowshoe as a brake. Halfway down I realised I had absolutely no idea why I was sliding. When I actually tried to walk down, I had no problems; the knee didn’t hurt and I was just fine. It was more that every now and then my snowshoe slid in the soft snow, and I couldn’t guarantee that I could control that slide. Apparently I’ve learned caution somewhere along the way, although it doesn’t extend far enough to make me turn back when I really should.

I’m getting there. Snowshoeing may not be the same as skiing, but at least I can be out in the mountains. There are no words to describe how much I’ve missed them.

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