I tripped over a garden hose. No big deal. Or so I thought. I fell on the inner part of my right knee. I brushed it off. Walked it off. No big deal. No big bruises or swelling. The very next day we went for a short hike to exercise it, keep it limber.
But that didn't do the trick. Within the week I was in major pain, and could barely walk on it. I put my leg up, iced it, took ibuprofen, stretched. Tried to hike again. We did a short hike at Grobschmidt Park. Just about a mile. By the end of that mile I felt like I'd run a marathon. I don't do marathons. I got a couple different knee braces and lamented, "why didn't I get one of these sooner?" - it seemed to be helping. Giving me some stability.
I saw my massage therapist. I did PT exercises, narrowed down what the specific issue was (pes anserine - a group of three tendons), then catered to that. It took 3 months. Three months! But it finally improved. I had about a week where I was feeling pretty good. Then, the other leg started acting up. Stiff knee and sciatic pain. I guess the left side was tired of compensating for the right side...So we're in week three of that. I'm doing PT, massage, cold therapy, ultra sound therapy, Tens therapy, heat therapy. Trying to walk short distances. Once the knee stiffens up, though, that's tricky. So, I'm guessing it will be another few weeks or more before this has settled.
It put us behind on any major hikes, and I had to cut back on some gardening work. That will have to wait until next spring, anyway. But it did force me to look at nature from a different perspective. From the perspective of someone who has an injury, or a disability, or a health issue that makes it difficult for them to endure some of the heartier trails.
We focused on simpler trails, shorter trails, a boardwalk, or just a scenic spot to rest and observe nature. After all, the point is to get outside. To observe nature, be with nature. Recovery takes time. It's not a prerequisite that the trail be difficult, or long.
So whether you are recovering from an injury, an illness, or have limited ability for hiking trails, don't let that keep you home. Get outside. Be it in your own backyard, your neighborhood park, or local nature preserves and gardens. Following is a list of some of the spots we favored these past few months:
Greenfield Park Lagoon - West Allis
This park is a perennial favorite of mine, in every season. It's close to home, and if I'm short on time, feeling tired, or it's bitter cold, the half-mile paved trail around the lagoon is do-able. The trees along the shore are often filled with bird song, and scenic views. They do a great job of plowing the paved trail during the winter months as well.
Wehr Nature Center - Franklin
Wehr has many attributes. Accessibility is one of them. There is a soft trail leading from the nature center building, to a newly expanded boardwalk trail. With viewing stops along the way. Walk as much or as little of it as you like. It's beautiful in every season.
McCarty Park Lagoon - West Allis
Another West Allis park, McCarty Park features paved trails throughout the park, and around the lagoon. Park benches beckon you to stop and enjoy the view. Water fowl swim in the pond, and birds and squirrels decorate the trees. In winter, kids can enjoy sledding down a couple of the snow-covered hills.
Elm Grove Park - Elm Grove
Lovely in every season, Elm Grove Park has a pristine beauty in the depths of winter. The paved trail around the fishing ponds (there are two) are a nice winter walk. Most often plowed, the paved trail traverses around the ponds and through a bit of woodland. Deer are often sighted here along the perimeter of the park and creek.
Franklin Woods Preserve - Franklin
The winding nature trail here is part pavement, part crushed gravel. It's low-impact effort, but high-impact beauty. At just about a mile in/out, it's laden with trees, birdsong, and sunlight in every season. Bonus: it's got a great kids playground at the entrance to the preserve.
Paradise Springs - Eagle
A hike in Kettle Moraine State Forest doesn't have to be arduous. Paradise Springs offers maximum beauty for minimal effort. There's a paved trail that leads to the scenic spring house and back, well under a mile. There is also a sheltered picnic area near the entrance.
A State Park sticker is required.
Ben Hunt Prairie and Cabin - Hales Corners
The prairie here is adjacent to Hales Corners Park, but it has its own parking lot. There is a short paved trail to the cabin, which is open the first Saturday each month (May-Nov) for free tours. Behind the prairie and cabin is a short woodland trail that exits towards the sports field. It's a beautiful bit of nature with birds, trees, and a native prairie garden.
A traveler, singer, novice photographer, humane gardener, and nature lover.