Waiting on summer
I can hardly wait to head to the mountains again
It is getting close to winter. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop hiking; it means I won’t be doing any freehiking until spring rolls around again. The hiking areas at lower elevations close to me are all definitely textile territory. When the days are warm enough to freehike, the local trails are all busy, and the ones close to me are county or city parks where they’ll happily fine you.
This year, we have been lucky. May brought us plenty of May gray, and June had its share of June gloom. In the past, that was the normal climate here. Late spring had clouds and cool temps and occasional fog and mist in the a.m. that slowly burned off. But the two conditions have been exceedingly rare for the last decade or so. Climate change, I presume.
Last winter, we had rain like we haven’t had in decades. Parts of the Sierras had record snow. Reservoirs are now full that hadn’t been full for decades. Tulare Lake, the largest lake west of the Mississippi, the lake that had been drained in the southern San Joaquin Valley for farming, reappeared and drowned homes and farms built on reclaimed land.
Over the summer, I have hiked very little. Instead of going with cortisone injections, the orthopedist convinced me to try a semi-experiment therapy called platelet-rich plasma injection. They pulled 20cc of blood, spun it in a centrifuge to remove most of the plasma, and injected the platelets back into the knee. I was encouraged by this article in Pub Ped:
It was a mistake. The result was that my knees became even more inflamed. When I investigated further in other studies, it turned out that the results were a mixed bag. Some people claim relief, some do not, and some have an autoimmune reaction. This is surprising because it is your own platelets being reinjected.
The result was very little hiking over the summer, and when I did, my knees became almost nonfunctional. They made me wait six months before they’d do another cortisone shot. I got it a few weeks ago, and now I can hike again. I also got a load-bearing knee brace, the one Mad Max in the Road Warrior wears. It is supposed to offer more support than my regular neoprene brace.
And then Hurricane Hillary came through. Not much wind left when it got to us, but we received about 6 inches of rain in two days where I live. That is a half-year’s worth in a single storm. Many of the dirt trails I haunt have been washed out. Many wild natural areas are inaccessible, and repairs on dirt trails are slow if they happen at all.
It all balances out because the Midwest was in drought. The jet stream that carries precipitation systems along can’t go everywhere at once. But summer will return to the Southland. Triple-digit-high temperatures will be the rule, not the exception. We won’t even see clouds for three months, let alone rain. If I want to go hiking, I must head to the mountains.