Three years ago, I sprained my ankle on top of the highest peak in Cape Point Nature Reserve, and with nobody able to assist, I hobbled 4km back to the car. The result was doctor’s orders to rest for 6 weeks, wear a brace for 3 weeks and then wear a brace on hikes, as the ankle was now a weak point (it has been my whole life – could never ice skate!). What a disaster! The only worse scenario would have been a broken ankle. Imagine having to be airlifted off a mountain by a helicopter!? It would make for another exciting life experience, though. I’ve always said the reason for my bright pink sun hat is so the helicopter can see me when it comes to find me – talk about tempting fate.
A very important reason for all the hiking is that I find it therapeutic and a marvellous stress releaser, and if I could find the time to hike three times a week, I would. So to be almost confined to barracks is anathema to me. Fortunately it was the time of year when everyone takes a break and so I didn’t miss too many, but fitness is also a factor, and so I took to the exercise bicycle that I found lurking in my daughter’s room, cleverly disguised as a clothes horse, and which I had entirely forgotten about. We lugged this incredibly heavy piece of gym equipment into the lounge and parked it in front of the TV (everyone said it would give me something to do while exercising). Well, you would be hard pressed to find anything remotely entertaining on DStv, even with the Premium package, and it’s hard to do Magic Puzzles on a tablet while doing my version of spinning. The saddle doesn’t bear discussion – suffice to say that the only sitting position suitable for a lady is far, far away from it. I have always said that the best shape for a bicycle saddle is a tractor seat – what do you men have to say?
I was back on the mountains, duly braced up, long before the allotted time and soon able to walk without the brace. And so it was with a sense of dread and foreboding that I felt the first twinge in my hamstring after a particularly speedy ascent of the trail up to Cecilia Waterfall some 6 weeks ago. It wasn’t bothersome enough to alert me to an actual injury, and so I continued to hike twice a week up some pretty steep trails, thinking at the time that they seemed more arduous than I remembered. The day finally came when it was a step too far and a searing pain shot through my rear end! Suffice to say it became known as the pain in the butt, as it was the most accurate description of the seat of the anguish, and I could no longer climb even one stair – a little tricky as I have 13 stairs leading up to my front door. After two weeks of not hiking, and dragging my left leg after my right leg in a kind of hobble, I succumbed to the ministrations of a physiotherapist, who massaged me where nobody really wants to be massaged, treated the area with ultrasound and strapped my leg from top to toe in a sports bandage which made me feel a lot better, having a sports injury and all! The bandaging was very comforting and was almost like having my leg reattached to my body. Of course, the time came when it had to be removed and if you have ever had any waxing done, I can tell you this was like that, only rather more extensive. It was a case of just grit your teeth and rip! Fortunately I have a very high pain threshold and was able to endure another bandage followed by another ripping.
After six weeks of no hiking, I have to say that it remains top of my list of essential activities, for the health benefits to the body and particularly the mind. However, bragging on the berg is a thing of the past and I will be happy to amble rather than scramble!