Today’s post is publishing late because I had something in particular that I wanted to finish before I drafted this. Back in February last year, I created my Hiking Bingo, a spread of 25 different hiking challenges to complete. They ranged from really easy (hike with a friend, lead a hike) to ridiculously hard (hike in another state, take an overnight hiking trip). I had no particular timeline of when I wanted to finish the Bingo – in fact, in the original post, I said that I thought maybe I could finish by the end of 2022 if travel resumed. Ha! Here I am, finishing it before the year anniversary comes around!
This morning, I took my last hike of the Bingo, a picnic hike. This one ought to have been completed ages ago. I signed up for or organized half a dozen picnic hikes over 2021, and each time something went wrong – cancellations, rain, timing issues, etc. Even though I didn’t have a timeline for the Bingo, it annoyed me that I could complete the harder travel-based ones but not this stupid picnic hike, so I decided that I would rectify that this week. That happened to be this morning!
My RA is still in a major flare and I’ve lost a good chunk of mobility over the last six weeks or so. Daily yoga has been helping, but it often hurts to even walk on flat ground for 5-10 mins. I knew I would have to take this hike slow, but the park is familiar and not too difficult. Ha. Ha. Ha. My left hip seized up within the first tenth of a mile, and I had to stop half a dozen times to stretch it on the way up the hill. Imagine me at picnic benches, sunk into a yogi squat to stretch out the muscles and tendons around my sciatic nerves. To make it worse, I was wearing my camera on a harness and my purse, and I was carrying both water and a bag with my food in it. I looked ridiculous.
It took me 45 mins to make it up the hill, including stops. The hike was also a photo hike, with the goal to try to get some good photos of the San Antonio artwork up top while there was still some good cloud cover. Of course, by the time I got to the top, the clouds had burned off and the light was way too harsh for decent photos. Sigh. Oh well.
I took a few photos that ended up deleted, and sat down to my picnic: chicken and summer squash kebabs with lemon, hummus, naan. I took my time eating to give my left hip a chance to relax and un-seize. And at first, the trip back down the hill (which is mostly downhill, with very few, very slight uphill sections), was definitely better. Within five minutes, though, my left hip was screaming at me again. While I didn’t have to keep stopping on the way down – my few stops for photos were enough – it still took me ages to return to the trailhead.
I really ought to have turned around at the beginning rather than pushing it, but I was so angry at my body and equally determined to get my picnic-hike done. Yes, my body makes me angry these days. In early November, I hiked nearly six miles at Lost Maples, and yeah, my feet hurt at the end, but I didn’t feel like I was about to snap a nerve in my spine and hips. Very little has changed between then and now, and yet my body has become, for lack of a better term, disabled. It’s frustrating, because just a few months ago I was climbing mountains on vacation, and now I struggle to stand long enough to take a shower. I know it’s out of my control; I know it’s RA and inflammation and a really bad flare; I know I’m doing everything I can to improve the situation. But it also just sucks, and I can’t wait until I can get on the new medicine and it has a chance to kick in!!
However, setting that frustration aside, I did it. I finished my last hike for my Hiking Bingo, and got myself a full blackout set in under a year! Woohoo! The Bingo encompassed 17 different parks, with only three park-repeats (including the park I went to today, which actually shows up seven times on this challenge, including my entry for “easy hike,” yeah…). It includes snow-hiking, mountain-climbing, journal-hiking, state and national parks, themed hikes, new to me places, and all kinds of travel. All in all, despite the crappy last hike, this is a spread of wonderful hiking memories and experiences!