Blazing Trails

After allowing Tisen a 20 minute nap at Edward Point, I decide we’d better start working our way down.  With our side-trips on the way up, we’re an hour behind schedule and we’ll be two if it takes as long to get back.

Unfortunately, the sun is now higher, the temperature hotter, and the bugs swarming more energetically.  I’m not sure if it’s the heat or the bugs that get to Tisen, but not more than a 1/4 mile from Edward Point, he finds a shrub, runs into the shade underneath, and starts digging himself a nest in the dirt.  It takes quite a bit of coaxing to get Tisen back out into the sun.

Fortunately, we are back in the shade a little further down the trail.  And the turkey vultures who greeted us on the way up have given up on us dying, disappearing down the river valley.  I took that as a positive sign.

Because I had opted to break in my new hiking boots in anticipation of a back-packing trip the following weekend, my knees were suffering.  My left knee was the first to start screaming.  This has something to do with inflammation.  As my knee starts to swell, it no longer wants to bend.  When I bend it and step downhill, a sharp stabbing pain shoots through the joint.  It makes going downhill excruciating.  I make a mental note to make sure I figure out how I can carry my camera and still use my trekking poles before we set out backpacking next weekend–I imagine my knees won’t hold up to a backpack without trekking poles.  I wish I could wear my fivefinger shoes, but the rocky terrain and the extra weight of a backpack is a bit much for almost-bare feet.

We manage to stay on the right trail on the way back.  I am watching for blazes with the intensity of a pit bull.  Or maybe that’s Tisen?  When we get to the juncture where I went the wrong way on the way up, I look back to see how I got confused.  I realize there is no excuse for missing the main trail.  The blazes are obvious and well-placed.  I don’t know what I was thinking.

We keep on stepping, slower than I’d like, but we’re making more progress than if either my knee or Tisen gives out completely.  I have to lift Tisen over some big rocks in the part of the trail we missed on the way up.  While I’m glad I’m able to lift him, I am simultaneously worried about how much poison ivy he’s run through and how much of it each lift is getting on me.

We make it back to water.  Tisen plows in and lays down.  I watch and wait for him to look cooled and refreshed so we can continue on our way.