During the hike about which I last posted many months ago (Wildcat A - Flags on the 48), though I did not mention it in that blog, I took a bit of a spill after slipping on a wet rock on the steep descent from the summit of Wildcat A to the Carter Notch Hut. After that fall I suffered in three ways; in this order:
1) My pride was hurt
2) My butt hurt from the initial fall on the rock (before rolling down the trail a little ways)
3) And, though I did not know it at the time, one of my knees was going to hurt (a lot) the next morning!
By the end of that day's hike I had a bit more knee pain than normal but I was not yet aware that I had damaged my right knee during the fall. By the next morning all doubt was gone as I could not bend that knee. It was twice its normal size and there was a proportional amount of pain. That was on Sunday morning and by the next afternoon I was visiting an orthopedic surgeon (I was lucky to get in so fast).
To make a long story short, about 3-weeks later I had arthroscopic surgery to repair two tears in my right meniscus. I was forced to be very aggressive in seeking treatment as we had a trip scheduled a mere four months later the primary goal of which was to hike in New Zealand. That trip had long been on my wife's bucket list. The surgeon assured me that I would be able to begin hiking about a month after surgery. I had my doubts but thankfully he was right.
On November 11, a mere 8-weeks after my fall, Sue and I hiked Mt. Roberts and I did so pain free. Though a minor hike at only five miles in length and with only 1,400' of elevation gain, it is a hike I love and we typically begin and end our seasons with this trek. That mid-November trip ended our season though as the cold was setting in. As we age we simply cannot bring ourselves to hike in the winter months.
Let's focus on hiking instead of my knees. As I noted earlier we had planned a trip to New Zealand. It was scheduled to last about five weeks with 15-days of that dedicated to hiking and touring the South Island. I don't intend on writing a full summary of that spectacular adventure in this blog but, if you love to hike and have ever considered going to New Zealand remember this; life is short - do it!
I'll wrap by teasing you with some photos from our New Zealand hike.
|The limestone rocks of Castle Hill.|
|A view across the valley from the summit of Castle Hill.|
|Near the top of the glacier looking back down to the valley at the outskirts of the town of Franz Josef.|
|We've donned our crampons and are beginning our short climb up the face of the glacier. Words cannot describe how beautiful this entire day was!|
|Looking back at the next group of hikers behind us gives some sense of scale. This glacier was huge yet it seemed small in contrast to the mountains around us.|
|In this photo and the next you can see how the rains also brought beautiful waterfalls. They were all around us. Literally 100's of waterfalls in every direction! We spent the entire day seeing waterfalls on all sides!|
|We've begun our descent and this shot is looking back at the col across which we had come. The top ridge of that col is the MacKinnon Pass.|
|Fifteen days after it started, our New Zealand hiking adventure ended at the base of the 12,200' tall Mt Cook. No we did not climb it!! It was a stunning place though as you can see from this photo. The lake in the foreground is a glacial lake.|
|This photo is one taken zoomed in on Mt Cook. Can you make out the face??|