Most weekends UltraDad and I do pretty much the same thing: watch TV, have a big breakfast, grocery shop, an occasional movie or card game and more TV. The weekend goes by and we have done, well, nothing. We decided this weekend would be a little different. So, we got up early (usual for him, an effort for me!) and headed for Lamoille Canyon, a beautiful and popular area we had not visited for a number of years. I drove as we made our way up the winding road. UltraDad pointed out picnic areas, waterfalls and other objects of interest; usually I had to make the choice between viewing the wonder or staying on the road, so he saw a lot more than I did. We arrived at the circular parking lot at the end of the road, which was already nearly full of vehicles, a little after 9 am. By 9:30, we were at the trailhead ready for an adventurous hike. UDad had his fancy Cabellas walking stick, and I had 2 leashed poodles and a small backpack containing water, apples, string cheese and 2 small candy bars. I almost brought Bug-Sun lotion, but decided it made my little pack too heavy. That decision I would later regret.
The signs at the Trail Head showed a couple of 2 mile hikes. We set off on the trail towards Lake Lamoille. The last time we had been on this trail, probably 4 years ago, it had been much earlier in the year. Water, mud and snow had made the trail treacherous and detrimental to nice tennis shoes, so that time we had not gone far. Now it was nearly August and a very warm day. How bad could it be?
To be fair, most of the trail was wide and well marked, complete with sturdy log bridges over wide streams. But as we climbed higher, it soon became clear that not all the snow was gone. I especially hated the transverse snowy patches on the hillsides. The snow was just melted enough from the weather plus the foot traffic to make it hard to gain a firm footing, at least for a clutz like me. UltraDad had no trouble at all and soon made it a policy to leave his walking stick for me at the start of each expanse of snowy trail. That helped a lot, though I still slipped and slid and had to catch myself as I got off balance.
There were a lot of people on the trail that day in every possible combination: singles, pairs, families, groups, and lots and lots of dogs. Many people stopped and gave Murphy and Rowdy a pat on the head, wondering if these two small pampered-looking pets could make the hike. I believe that people tend to underestimate poodles, especially such finely conditioned ones as my handsome pair☺ They showed their ‘toughness’ by barking at each dog we encountered along the trail, seeming to say ‘do you want a piece of me?’ No one did.
We finally came upon a series of several small lakes. These were the ‘Dollar Lakes’, I learned later, reviewing the sign upon our return. They were beautiful; I especially liked the small island with picturesque fir tree on one of them, and we took a series of pictures of it from many angles. It was about then that I realized my left ankle was really starting to hurt.
It had been twinging for a while, probably since crossing the snow fields, but I tried to ignore it, hoping it would just go away. There had been no single memorable incidence of twisting or rolling it.
Several return trip hikers assured us that Lake Lamoille was just around the corner, and soon we were gazing on a spectacular panorama of a glacial lake surrounded by snow-clad mountains. I was happy when we arrived at a spot where we could sit and rest for awhile. I removed my left shoe and packed snow around only slightly puffy ankle as we ate our cheese and apples. I don’t know how all this snow remained because it was really hot up there! This was when I regretted leaving the sunscreen behind.
When it was time to leave, I put my shoe back on with great difficulty and needed help to stand. When I put weight on my left foot, the pain was intense. Somehow I had managed to sprain my ankle. UltraDad took the nearly empty pack, took charge of the poodles and handed me his walking stick. Further down the trail, he found me another one. At first I could only go a few steps before I felt like I was going to pass out. I did this several times, but was finally able to keep going for longer stretches. Poor UltraDad would walk ahead with the dogs and wait for me to catch up. This would be our pattern for the 2 miles back. On the way up, I was careful of my shoes, trying to avoid the mud and water. Now I didn’t want to take any extra steps; at one point I slid down a hill of snow rather than try to walk a snowy trail. After awhile it got easier, though the progress was still slow. UDad and the ‘boys’ were infinitely patient. It was 3:30 when we got back to the car, and now my ankle was really swollen. I immediately zonked out as UltraDad steered the car towards home.
At one point on the trail UltraDad remarked on how pale I looked and remarked curiously, “I think you have a low tolerance for pain.” I couldn’t argue with him. “But,” he continued kindly “that doesn’t make you a bad person.” Thanks for that.
Now after a day of RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) it is feeling much better, though still very puffy. I have a cane, crutches and a walking boot (the later two borrowed from a friend). I am feeling sorry that I will miss my early morning walks with my friends. But it was definitely not our typical run of the mill weekend. In fact I think we wil remember this one for a long, long time.
UltraMom the cripple