Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last Weekend - Jerfferson County Open Space Meyer's Ranch Hike and other things

Slowly but surely the pace of my return to hiking is picking up.  With the arrival of each weekend, I plan out at least one decent hike for us to take.  This past weekend it was a hike through the Jefferson County Open Space called Meyer's Ranch.

This open space property is located off of Highway 285 a little to the east of the town of Aspen Park.  I've driven by Meyer's Ranch more times than I can count but I have never stopped and hiked there.  Recently, I made a list of all the open space properties in Jefferson, Douglas and Boulder counties.  Realizing there were quite a few I have yet to hike, I concluded that I needed to start visiting these places.

The weather last Saturday was rainy and cold, so our hike got pushed out until Sunday.  I didn't get out of bed until around 9:30AM.  Once I was up, Zack and I took our time and didn't leave the house until 10:45AM. 

The drive took about 30 minutes with us arriving at the main trail head for the open space around 11:15AM.  There is a map of the property at the trail head so we quickly took a look at it and decided the route we were going to hike.

We choose to do a modified loop that included a part that was an "out and back".  There are several different loop trails located throughout the open space and our route was going to take a little over 3 miles. 

The trail head is at the bottom of a ridge and all the trails lead up the ridge towards the summit.  So for the first part of our hike we were heading up hill the entire time.  This would normally be OK, but I am still building up my leg strength after having laid off hiking for over a year.  As a result, it wasn't long before the backs of my calves were feeling the burn of the climb.  Zack was looking at me in a funny light as he realized I was having to stop every so often to let my body rest.  He is used to me "slave driving" him up hills and mountains and he wasn't used to seeing me lacking for stamina!

We hiked out about 1.5 mile to a rock pavilion at the junction of two trails.  Zack wanted to have a snack so we sat down and he ate the Wheat Thins that he had brought along.  While we were there a woman riding a horse came up the trail from the other direction.  Given his love of all animals, Zack asked the woman if he could pet the horse - and she agreed.  She dismounted and let Zack give the horse all of his attention.  The woman told us the story of the horse and how she had saved it from a slaughter house.  The horse was in bad shape when she bought her, but had really come around with proper care and love.  This was the first time she had taken the horse out trail riding.

As the woman was getting back on the horse to ride onward, another group of hikers with a dog came down the trail.  They scared the horse and it reared up on it's two back legs.  Thankfully the rider hadn't gotten the whole way on the horse and was able to get off and out of the way.  It was pretty impressive to see this large horse rearing up like that - though it was also kind of scary.  In the end, the woman managed to get the horse calmed down and rode off in the opposite direction of the hikers and their dog.

Zack and I resumed our hike and headed back down the trail the way we had come.  When we reached the next trail junction we went the opposite way that we had originally come so that we could turn the hike into a loop.

Despite the fact that there has been rain and snow, we still managed to see some nice autumn colors.  Here are some of the pictures that I took during our hike.

We had a good hike and I really enjoyed getting out and working the muscles that I haven't worked in so long.  The pain levels I felt in my back while hiking were manageable, but the sad fact is the pain is still there.

As for the state of my injured back, I continue to go to physical therapy.  The things that the therapists do to me aren't that pleasant but they do bring some temporary relief to the pain and stiffness.  The thing that seems to bring the most relief is one of the most interesting things they do to me.  It is called "needling" and it is kind of like acupuncture.  However, instead of sticking needles into your body to hit nerves, the stick these very large, very thick needles into various "trigger points" in your muscles.  Once the needles are firmly embedded in your muscles the therapist then manipulates them to induce your muscles to spasm.  The spasm that is created in your muscle then releases the tension and tightness that causes much of the pain.  When the needle goes into your muscle it doesn't feel that bad, however the muscle spasm that occurs as a result of the needling is pretty darn painful.

On top of the normal physical therapy with the needling, they also having me doing at least one hard core Pilates session per week.  The whole point of the Pilates is to try and retrain my body to move in the correct manner.  Because of the injury to my back, my body adopted different ways of moving to protect the injured area.  As a result of that compensation in my movement, I am moving in ways that cause my muscles to be stiff and tense - hence causing most of the pain I feel.  To solve this root cause of the pain in my back and hips I really need to move in different ways.  Right now I am doing physical therapy and several other things to try and solve my back pain.  However, if things aren't better by the end of the year then I will look to see if more surgery is necessary.

The work on the kitchen/family was essentially done a month ago.  I am still waiting on the installation of blinds and I am also going to buy some more furniture before I take pictures and post them here.  Unfortunately, the state of completeness of the kitchen changed last Sunday evening.

At 10:00PM on Sunday evening I was sitting around watching TV when I started to hear a repetitious sound.  It took me a few minutes to realize that it was dripping water.  Turning on the light I discovered that there was water dripping from one of the can lights!  I managed to get the dripping water to stop by turning off the water main to the house.   First thing Monday morning I called the general contractor who did the work on the kitchen/family room.  He came to the house at 1:00PM that afternoon with a plumber and they began the process of solving the problem.  Two hours later I had 5 huge holes in the ceiling but the leaking water was stopped.  The offending water line was the cold water going into the main bathroom on the second floor.  The leak was not at a point they had directly worked upon during the re-construction, but it was very close.  In all likelihood the work on the line had caused an old joint to wiggle loose and cause the leak.  The repair to the ceiling will be done by my general contractor, but now it will be several more weeks until the work is done - as we need to wait for the space to dry out.

Another weekend has almost arrived.  It is supposed to be a nice weekend in this part of Colorado and we are hoping to get out and do some hiking and possibly some horse back riding.  It should be a good weekend ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

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