The Week In Review


For a guy who likes to talk about the various chemicals and solvents I used to put in my body in prodigious quantities, I’m actually pretty healthy. I hiked over twelve miles in the Superstition Wilderness today, spending about seven hours grinding my knees into pulp. I used to play soccer at a very competitive level, and let me tell you something: When a knee, or anything else, acts up when you’re in your teens or early twenties, the full weight of medical science is brought to bear on the problem: CT-Scans, MRI’s, orthopedic surgeons, and micro-fracture surgeries are involved. And when they are, the goal is to get you back to the way you were before the injury, which is to say maximum kick-ass mode because when you’re that young, you are at your fucking peak. Fast-forward twenty years, however, and a complaint regarding knee pain is met with a brief “Meh”, and the suggestion that you stop doing whatever caused you pain in the first place. This is why I never pay medical bills.

Seriously, I once told a doctor that, “I do a lot of hiking in the mountains, and it makes my knees hurt.” His response? “I’ll bet.” No MRI’s, no CT-Scans, not even a prescription for the kind of gnarly painkillers that will make me forget all about hiking anything more difficult than the stairs that lead to my bedroom. The goal is no longer to fix me. The goal is to let me know that I can expect physical activity to become increasingly painful, and to please get the fuck out of the doctor’s office so he can go back to dreaming up reasons to give unnecessary breast examinations. There is a medical term for this, and it is “bullshit”.

Anyway, about five miles into the hike a tendon in my left knee started complaining loudly with each step. And when I use the word “loudly”, that’s not a literary device. I’d been hiking for over four hours at that point without having seen a single other soul, and I could imagine my tendon talking to me directly.

Tendon: Hey, what gives? This fucking sucks. I’m going to keep hurting like this until you sit down for a few hours.

Me: What? Fuck you, tendon, you can’t do that now! We are in the middle of fucking nowhere! Stop hurting until we get home and I promise I’ll give you drugs and ice to make you feel better.

Tendon: Hmmm, not playing ball, are we? Ok, let’s try this on for size…

Me: OW! Motherfucker, that hurt! Listen, asshole, we’ve got seven miles of extreme terrain in front of us, and if I can’t walk because you’re being a dick, I will make sure that the mountain lion that eventually eats us starts with your stringy ass first.

Tendon: Fine, I’ll just throb ominously for the remainder of the hike.

Me: Fine, and when we get home I’m going to stab you with a fork.

Seriously, that tendon was a total douche today. Still, it could have been worse. I actually made great time. (If seven hours to cover twelve miles doesn’t sound so fast, bear in mind that it’s basically climbing up and down mountains all day, with a total elevation change of 3,200 feet up and 3,200 back down.) Some people would consider themselves very lucky to finish in twice that time: One hiker I saw on the way out asked me if my name was Dave.

“Sorry, no. Why?”

“A buddy of mine was hiking out here with a friend named Dave yesterday. They got separated, and no one has seen him since.”

People go missing out there all the time. And not just used car salesmen and philosophy majors: Useful people go missing too. This is why I over-pack necessities to the point of insanity. Two GPS units, twice as much water as I needed, extra clothes (yes, even extra undies), extra shoes, food, rope, first aid kit… Basically, I packed tons of shit because I wanted to make sure that if something bad happened, I could survive for a few days while I waited for help. And because I packed so much shit, my knee started acting up, and I wound up almost needing all that shit. My packing style could be described as “Self-fulfilling prophecy packing”. I might be healthy, as long as you don’t count my knee, but I’m not always too intelligent, which is another way of saying “Me hike brain not good!”

On to what you missed the last couple of weeks while wondering if you should pack canned hams for sustenance:

That’s it for now, people. I’m going to go get fitted for crutches and limp off to bed.

(P.S. The first pic is of Weaver’s Needle, a solidified plug of lava that dominates a large section of the Superstition Wilderness, and the most prominent landmark on my hike today. If you’re curious as to what the hike was like, it is described here.)

10 Responses to “The Week In Review”

  1. LA Juice says:

    First I want to APPLAUD your prepper like mentality- Everyone should pack for a hike like you do!!! Well played good sir.

    Fuck doctors telling you that you are old… its crap! But I feel your knee pain bro’. For over 15 years I was a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor and when I wasn’t the Queen of Mean, bossing other people around, I liked to run and weight train. Around age 29, I started to hear clicking in my knees and I realized the cartilage was all gone under my knee caps. Ibuprofen became my best friend because no way in hell was I ever gonna give up working out. Without the motrin, I was in constant knee pain.

    Nevermind the pain relief, the ibuprofen was important because the knee cannot heel without reducing the swelling.

    About 5 years ago I began training with a MMA guy who was a kettlebell advocate, and I became obsessed with these workouts. Amazingly all my knee pain went away. And my back pain went away and I was in the best shape of my life.

    Still after all these years, my knees make “crinkle” noises every time I squat, climb a stair or bend them in anyway. Like one of those cat toys that are supposed to sound like a paper bag being rustled, but sound like a sheet of bubble wrap made out of mylar? Yea that sound.

    I don’t think its a function of kettlebells, since I have let myself go to hell this last year. I actually think its a result of being completely out of shape, but I refuse to go in to have it addressed because I do not want to rehab after a scope…

    I know this means that one day Lance is going to get a call from the ER that they picked me up at 4th and Montana, writhing in pain with a blown out ACL, but I just don’t care. I intend to burn the mother out. Go hard or go home, pain is just weakness leaving the body, etc… Good job hiking and pushing through, that GPS will save your life!

    • Greg says:

      My knees are fairly hosed from many, many years of soccer, and hiking in the mountains isn’t exactly doing them a ton of good. I just hope that if/when they blow out in a major way, I’m not 15 miles from civilization in the middle of a giant patch of cactus.

  2. Vesta Vayne says:

    Sucko. Like Juice, I have bad knees too. They sound like rice crispies, even walking up and down stairs. I don’t want to know what they’re going to be like when I’m 60.

    Twelve miles, that’s awesome. And good for you on the preparation.

    • Greg says:

      I keep reading about miracle scientific breakthroughs about growing skin, growing organs, etc. How about letting me grow a couple of new knees, huh? WHY AM I PAYING TAXES?

      Thanks, and yeah, I like to prepare. Beats feeding the vultures.

  3. Vonny says:

    I agree doctors don’t give a hoot about your aches and pains if you are old. Recently I moved town, so was doctor shopping. The first one wouldn’t even listen to my tales of woe about my back, but started telling me about his back pain instead. Thanks, jerk, I’ll pay $80 to someone who listens.

    Well done on using some common bloody sense when packing for a long hike, even if it did mean you were humping around 40kg of survival gear.

  4. Heather says:

    I’m not sure what impresses me more. The 12 miles plus weight plus injuries, or the fact that you just went out and did something like that all by yourself. Nobody will do things alone anymore. They can’t handle 5 minutes without having a conversation.

    • Greg says:

      You know how it is with little boys in the house:

      Boy #1: Jabber jabber jabber jabber…

      Boy #2 (in unison): Jabber jabber jabber jabber…

      Me: I need to walk into the middle of nowhere. Right now!

      (And truth be told, several times I stopped just to listen because the complete absence of human made sound is awesome.)

  5. CassieCros13 says:

    Damn, good for you for hiking in those mountains with your tendon being a bitch…you’re right about doctors not giving a shit.

    • Greg says:

      Well, they give a shit if you’re young. Once you hit a certain age, though, they just kinda shrug. “Yeah, your knee hurts. So what?”

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