I went on a beautiful hike this past weekend. It was just to a state park, so mostly flat and no breathtaking overlook views, but it’s a park I love and it was probably the first spring weekend with gorgeous weather we had yet had. We did the first half of our hike with a couple of friends and then continued on after they had to leave.

Looking out over a lake in spring. Hiking; chronic pain; chronic illness; invisible illness. Copyright to the chronic athlete and Cole, author of the blog.
Copyright to the chronic athlete and Cole, author of the blog.

Unfortunately, I woke up that morning with vertigo… again. It’s getting rather inconvenient. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as it has been at times lately. Walking in a straight line felt okay, until I stopped and stood still, but bending over or turning was a bit problematic. Which made trying to organize our packs rather annoyingly difficult. My husband had something early that morning and I was supposed to get our packs ready while he was gone, so of course I didn’t get through that as quickly as planned and we ended up running a bit late.

But we got there, I was doing okay enough for a simple, flat, not-technical hike, and we got started with our friends. It was lovely, I did not regret it. As just about always when it’s slightly chilly I started off with one layer too many and had to pretty quickly stop to take that off (I was wearing a long-sleeved REI shirt and over it a thin Marmot zip jacket). I was definitely appreciative of my hiking poles though while walking.

I ended up not telling our companions that I was having mild vertigo. I debated, but it’s always a weird feeling to disclose various symptoms, even to people who have some idea of what I experience. If it had become more relevant (i.e. if it had gotten worse) I probably would have, but I ended up deciding there wasn’t much point.

We had a lot of fun that morning. We probably went a little slower than we would have alone, but not by a lot, and it may have been for the best (based on how the afternoon went). We also found a pretty fun boulder to climb (and of course in spite of having only hiking boots and no crash pads, my husband still had to try it…).

Bouldering in a crevice of a rock. Bouldering; rock climbing; chronic pain; chronic illness; invisible illness. Copyright to the chronic athlete and Cole, author of the blog.
Copyright to the chronic athlete and Cole, author of the blog.

 

We paused for a trail lunch and to say bye to our friends, and when we got back on the trail I wanted to go our ‘usual pace’. But I foolishly forgot that we had sat for a bit for lunch and weren’t warmed back up yet. Also, we hadn’t gone that far flat in a while (we ended up doing between 10 and 11 miles, depending on whose tracker you believe). And pretty quickly first my hamstring was bugging me (I think I over-extended my stride slightly — my hamstrings don’t get unhappy like this very often so it was a bit unusual for me), and then shortly after my hip, and then my lower back and ribs joined in protesting.

I realized later something that I had sort of known, or had an inkling of perhaps, but ignored because I couldn’t figure out how it made sense. Flat ends up hurting my joints much more than uphill — I knew this to definitely be true for downhill, but hadn’t quite fully realized it for flat. My PT ended up explaining this and I felt silly for not totally realizing what I had half-known I was experiencing, that flat can be harder on joints because you aren’t forced to engage your muscles as much as uphill. I am making a mental note of that.

Fortunately, my joints got over themselves not too long after we finished the hike, so I don’t think I overdid it too badly. It made me a bit discouraged that I used to be able to go that far easier, but encouraged that I wasn’t in lasting (extra) pain from it. I was also glad that the vertigo subsided through the day so I was feeling pretty good by the end.

Hiking under a blue sky in the trees. Hiking; chronic pain; chronic illness; invisible illness. Copyright to the chronic athlete and Cole, author of the blog.
Copyright to the chronic athlete and Cole, author of the blog.
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