In a few days, I’ll return to the surgery center at Summit Orthopedics in Eagan, Minnesota to have my right hip replaced with a titanium ball, socket and post. Osteoarthritis runs in my genes and I feel incredibly blessed to have walked around 7,000 miles since I first felt any pain.
The left hip is rock solid and I feel pretty confident my awesome surgeon will have good success with the right, which right now is officially bone dust.
It’s all been a huge drama, though, with my developing painful neuropathy from a bruised nerve during surgery that should go away over the coming months. Plus both Richard and I caught Covid in the first week of recovery from the left hip replacement. Thankfully, it was a ‘mild’ case with only non-stop coughing, fever, headache and life-draining fatigue – though never requiring a hospital visit.
The virus, at least, is behind us, and there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel as I replace the tools I need to keep walking long distances. Starting from the vantage point of my beautifully healing and strong left hip, the time has come to put my game face on for Thursday morning’s procedure.
The time off from walking more than a gimpy two miles on flat ground does put me in mind to revisit my hikes. I love these conversations I had on the Pacific Crest Trail at the instigation of my friend and supporter, John Reamer. For sure, there were interesting people everywhere, but it was usually the locals, who attended to us very needy hikers, that turned out to be the most interesting interviewees.
I’d heard about John at the Laguna Mountain Lodge and Store from my brother Eric, who lives close by in San Diego, California. John is a gregarious character and Eric was curious about the increase in the number of PCT hikers after the film “Wild” was released.
John answered his question by sharing the ‘10% rule’ theory, the one that says 10% of people in a group are going to be jerks. To Eric’s surprise – and my relief – John said it was more like 1% of hikers who he’d consider jerks.
The PCT passes around the beautiful village of Mount Laguna, though it’s easy to take a side trip for a milkshake, a meal, resupply or a bed. John and his brother own the general store, a hangout that sees over 2,000 thru-hikers (including wannabes) each season. When I walked the trail in 2019, he told me there was a day in the spring when he counted over sixty of us ‘hiker trash’ hanging out on the store’s beautiful covered porch amidst the soaring Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines.
In typical fashion, John made me laugh about some of our shared foibles and how ridiculously seriously we take ourselves sometimes. I was definitely heartened to hear that he finds most of us thru-hikers a pretty nice bunch. It’s all a good reminder to me as I head into a bit of a trial over the coming weeks and months of two good rules to live by: