It's been a tough nine months, hiking-wise. First I smashed my shoulder in September and had to walk on eggshells all fall and winter. Then I had the thumb surgery, a delicate affair which still requires me to wear a protective splint outside. And of course, Tasha got old and needed me to slow down for her...which I did.
Yesterday I went "home" for the first time since last September when I ruined my shoulder.
I've been up to the ridge--that rocky ledge at nearby conservation land--many times since all these injuries. But I've not been able to complete the rocky trail that loops through many ridges because of one small cliff-like rock that sits in the middle of the trail.
It's not high--maybe fifteen feet. But it requires actual climbing instead of walking, and no way would I risk my surgically-repaired shoulder to best it.
I decided it was time to go home again, resume possession of one of the most beautiful and lightly-trails around. I loaded up my backpack, put on my best hiking sneakers, strapped on my splint, and went for it.
The trail was so lovely...and I'd missed it so much! I got to the rock, sized it up, decided yes...time to come home. Climbing it requires wedging your toes into a tiny crevice, grabbing the embedded tree (see picture) in the cliff and hoisting up.
It requires a step of faith. Once you hoist, you need to push up without any handhold until you grab the trunk of the tree. There's that split-second of hoping/praying that momentum will lift you high enough to make the grab. Otherwise, it's slip, crack your chin on the rock, scrape your belly as you slide off, and think, "I'm never going to come this way again," acknowledging the inevitability that there are last times in our lives, though we seldom recognize them until they're long past.
It's not time for the ridge trail to be a last time. No way, not yet.
I secured my pack and my walking stick, made sure my thumb splint was secure, dug my toe in the crevice and my right hand around the tree root...
And made it, quite easily. But the thing is, it turned out I didn't need the left (repaired) arm at all. Something I had forgotten. It's not about the pulling with both arms...it's about the hoist...stepping out and up in faith.
I didn't conquer the rock. The rock welcomed me. And now I'm home.