With the exception of last year, the year I have given the working title of The Living Death, Nick and I have had a longstanding tradition to welcome the unofficial start of summer enthusiastically with a day of biking, a day of hiking, and a day of kayaking (in no particular order). We refer to it as the trifecta, and it’s as much a reason to jumpstart our out-of-shape cold weather bodies as it is to embrace the reasons we still live in the midwest despite the long bite of winter.
This year, it doesn’t appear that the forecast will allow three dry days to complete the trifecta, but we hit kayaking and hiking with a vengeance while the sun was in session. We both used vacation time on Friday to squeeze in an extra day without rain. We were out on the water just after 9:00 on Friday morning for a smooth, soul-freeing paddle along Mirror Lake.
We had the lake mostly to ourselves until the afternoon matured, and weekend visitors arrived in the Wisconsin Dells area to begin their long weekends. Those hours of solitude were the definition of perfection, but the weight of underused upper body muscles made itself known on the last stretch of our established path as we fought the current rolling toward the dam where we turned around. (We’ll save portaging over the dam for a time when the arms don’t feel so noodly as we approach.)
When we decided to call it a day, we worked like a well-oiled machine to pack up the boats. It felt good to work in tandem so naturally, like this is who we are—an active couple who likes spending time together…and it is. The seamlessness of our actions was so automatic that I didn’t appreciate it until an older couple who parked near the boat launch remarked upon how easy we made it look to transition from paddling to travel-ready.
I felt fine on Saturday. I felt alive. I felt happy. Endorphins are so yummy…I can’t believe I forgot the high. Saturday was to be the last pleasant day of the long weekend, so we planned a morning hike at one of my favorite places in Wisconsin: Devil’s Lake.
In typical extremist Laura fashion, I picked the hardest trail to begin and agreed that we should take the harder of the two trails on the other side of the lake to get back to the car. According to my Fitbit, the first part of the first trail was the equivalent of climbing the stairs of 45 floors without rest—basically a long, continuous, boulder staircase straight to the top of the cliff. By the time we finished the paths on both sides of the lake, Fitbit had me clocked in at 113 floors.
I was proud to have accomplished such a feat because it had been years since we completed a challenging trail on both sides of the lake. By the second side, my right hip (the wonkier of the two) was definitely protesting movement, but I talked her into sticking it out (mainly because we had no choice if we wanted to get back to the car).
The photo of myself at the top of this post was taken before we left the house that morning…fresh-faced and happy. I used to feel like that every weekend, because every weekend meant a new adventure. I want to become fit enough to recapture that spirit. My mom used to have a plaque at her desk (at work) that read, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” It’s a statement that has stuck with me through some of my tougher times. I decided to put it in play through this journey; I’ve even added it to the site header.
Today, it’s difficult to interpret the results of my enthusiasm. Difficult because, while I am in increased pain, I can’t know why. Today is also rainy, and though it’s cliché, my [arthritic] lower body joints become real jerks every time it rains. I’m still navigating physical activity on the D-L, so I will have to pay attention and listen to my body (when I figure out what it’s trying to tell me).
I dearly hope I don’t have to take two steps back after taking such a thrilling step forward this weekend. For the sake of the trifecta, I would love some dry time tomorrow to take the bikes for a spin, but the forced break might be a kindness to a mind that has decided to push through whatever pain may come. For now, I’ll post an old photo to help me remember where I want to be again.