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Return to Hart Park

Today it was time to find out if I could still go for a hike in the hills. Ever since I started losing stability and balance due to Parkinson’s disease I have had to give up running and only do fast walking if I have my rollator with me. Whether or not I could tackle the hills of Hart Memorial Park had yet to be tested.

I had used these trails many times in training runs as well as races, so I knew what to expect as far as the extreme hills. In fact, I picked the hike I intended to do because it included a steep 1-mile hill right out of the parking lot. What I didn’t expect was the mud.

Jason and I met up in the parking lot and we set off for what should have been a two-mile loop up the hill and then down through what is known in these parts as Mr. Toads Gully, the site of the annual Mr. Toads Wild Run 5K and 10-Mile trail races. For the first mile, I felt really strong and powered up the 1-mile hill with my trekking poles in 20 minutes. Considering how muddy it was, that wasn’t so bad. The problems started when we topped out and bore left to what should have been a trail leading down to the gully.

Now, as I said, I have run and hiked these trails many times. There was no excuse for me not to know exactly how to get to where I wanted to go. Not so much. That’s right, I lost my place in the geography and we wandered a bit trying to get back on track. I finally decided we were better off just back-tracking and returning back down the 1-mile trail. The problem was, I lost track of that also! Fortunately, Jason had his GPS running, so we were able to get back on track and follow our trail in reverse to get back to the parking lot.

The problems were not over. While hiking the steep downhill in the mud I put my foot in the wrong place and quickly found myself face down in the mud. Half my face was covered in mud as well as most of my sweatshirt and jeans. I had a small cut on my forehead which was putting out more blood than it should have. The worst part though was the severe injury to my pride. I had been doing so well overcoming my Parkinson’s and its limitations and then suddenly fell on my face like a newbie right in front of my good friend. But, he was gracious and we finished our hike without further incident, although we logged 4 miles instead of the planned 2!

So is my little incident going to keep me from going back to Hart Park? Not likely! I will, however, wait until the weather dries up a bit. I think my wife is right, also, that I should try to always go with someone else.

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