Palmer Park is a favorite of people in Colorado Springs because of the off leash dog park, vistas, horse trails, rock climbing, and available access. With 27 miles of trails at 6,338 to 6,597 feet above sea level, there are easy, intermediate, hard, short (0.7 mile) and long (3.8 miles) trails to explore. (alltrails.com/parks/us/Colorado/palmer-park)
But what if you do not want to hike on trails? Can you bushwhack through the park and get lost? Yes, you can. There are signs to most of the large trails, and the rock formations can be accessed with a good climb. It is the slippery scree or tiny rocks that can be a challenge to any hiker, especially off trail.
We had started on a trail that led to an animal trail that led to a dead end. Climbing the visible rocks and descending farther down the mountain, we hoped to reach another trail we had seen.
As I stepped down into a dry creek bed only two feet high, my right foot went out from under me. I slid down the bank and caught myself with my left hand, hyperextending my left shoulder. Normally, this would not be a problem, but I was having physical therapy for that shoulder for bicep tendonitis. I screamed. I cried. I knew I was hurt badly.
“For you have taken refuge in the Lord, my shelter, the Most High. No harm will overtake you; no illness will come near your home.
For he will order his angels to protect you in all you do.
They will lift you up in their hands, so you will not slip and fall on a stone.” Psalms 91:9-12 New English Translation (NET)
Falling is a constant hazard for hikers, and normally we take it as a badge of honor to keep going. This one was awful. We were not far from the car and I cradled the left arm and continued walking a bit, until I had to stop and return to the car. As I age, injuries take longer to heal, and my neck had taken the brunt of this fall. Two additional weeks of physical therapy were required to get back to where I was before the fall.
I vowed to myself to stay on the trails. Bushwhack less. Slow down and carry a walking stick to help me navigate my descent. I will not stop hiking, but I must change my thinking as I age, so I can keep doing what I love the best – hike.
How do you handle illness and fear of disease? Why do you think people have either panicked or been indifferent? Who have you most admired during this time? Why?