Every hiker knows one of the easiest paths to injury is on descent from high places. Ascents usually pose little danger.
Of my three injuries in 2015, all took place while hiking and all occurred on the descent.
Injury #1: Tweaked my right knee coming down a paved road from North Mountain in January. No slip, no tripping on an obstacle. Just walking. I suspect the injury was actually the result of a weightlifting session I’d done earlier in the day. Too much weight on the leg press, perhaps. The injury proved minor and I soon recovered.
Injury #2: Wrecked my left shoulder in March coming down Daisy Mountain east of Anthem. Traveling solo in an isolated area, I was lucky this one did not turn out even more severe than it did. After reaching the top of Daisy, I descended on a rock trail with loose soil. I made it OK to the saddle but on the descent from there, I slipped on loose rock and fell as if shot by American Sniper. The elbow caught the brunt of the fall, but the pain shot up into my shoulder. Think this injury was due to tired legs, Daisy Mountain being a long, arduous trek. I did not see a doctor and allowed the injury to heal on its own. That took the most of six months. Think I tore ligaments. It certainly was more than a strain. This one injury put a pall on my entire year.
Injury #3: Sprained my left ankle several days ago coming down the Arrowhead Trail in Thunderbird Park, in darkness. Only about 25 yards from the flats and safety too. Stepping off a rock with my right foot, the left struck an angle rock the wrong way and down I went with pain in the ankle, shooting up the outside of the shinbone. After lying there for a while and seeing if all my other parts were working, I got up and walked to the parking lot. This injury was utter stupidity on my part. I was at the end of a 6-mile hike, covering the last 2 miles in darkness. I’d stopped at sunset to search my pack for the head lantern I usually carry. Alas, nowhere in sight. Recovery is still a work in progress here on Day 4.
Resolutions for next year do not include a halt in hiking, however.
One thing I will try to do better is 2016 is this. Monitor how tired I am of body and mind. Tired legs, I believe, lead to injury on slippery slopes. Tired minds lead to bad decisions.