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Nemesis

It looked such an innocuous little bump.  My God, it was only 427m high! We used to swallow up those wee molehills on our way to much bigger things.  It created mayhem did Dumgoyne…the little sod.

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It was all the fault of Cap’n Jack of course.  He opted to tackle it head on – straight up the face.

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As the gradient increased to 50% my right leg blew and became redundant.  I made it to the top, just.  At least we’d completed the hill and The Fatdog was in good form, trotting about happily after Cap’n Jack.

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Only problem was – this wasn’t our target hill.  We were heading for Earl’s Seat (off to right in photo below), some 3km to the east.  We dropped down off Dumgoyne and began the continued ascent of Earl’s Seat.  20m later I shook my head…the right leg was giving nothing .

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And so it was game over for a few weeks as I puzzled over what to do next.

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Having put the distraction of the blog on hold I got down to some more serious analysis of the problem.  A review of past break downs highlighted a particular feature…they were all connected to routes involving “stepping” up on steeper gradients or, for a similar leg movement, prolonged periods on marginally less steep slopes.  Basically as soon as I had to lift my feet, as opposed to shuffling along, things took a downturn.

At least that particular revelation solved one part of the problem…I would have to stay away from steep slopes on “stepping” paths.  I reckoned I was struggling above 25%.  Shallower hill trails would have to be an essential part of any day’s walking.  The actual leg aches would be more difficult to resolve.

All I could do about the legs was to hope that the core/stability exercises would set the muscles up to work properly and that the stretches would ease the legs along.  Exercise breaks became part of my routine and 3 to 4 times a week I would be found “bridging” and “planking” around the house.  A couple of weeks later I could feel the legs strengthening.  The aches still remained, but more muted than before.

Almost 3 weeks after the Dumgoyne melt down we took to the hills once more to check on the effectiveness of the new regime…

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coming next:  The travails of Bertie “Wrong Hill” Brown and his travelling companion, Parkes.

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22 thoughts on “Nemesis”

  1. Analysis is everything.
    My husband has problems walking due to the effects of illness and his doctors here asked him to think carefully about the actions he was making and the characteristics of areas where he had most difficulty.

    1. Yep…has taken me since 2007 to really get to grips with my problem :oops: . Always seemed to get by but this year things were becoming more awkward. Never really looked back to see when and where the problems manifested themselves – but when I did it began to make sense.

      The next few weeks will test out the theory – only problem is that, as I will be avoiding the “test to destruction”, I might not know if my hypothesis is correct :roll: .

      Hope it worked out for your husband.

    1. Thanks Andy – we’re now testing out whether the assumptions I’ve made are correct. Now going pretty well…so far. :lol:

  2. I could have told you years ago that picking up your feet was at the root of your problems. I will even prophesise that picking them up to rest them on a foot stool, strangely, has no ill effects!

    1. Will have to consider more creative ways of tackling steeper ascents. Possibilities are: dropping onto all fours – seems to work well for Maisie or, possibly more difficult, “bumming” my way up the hill. :D

  3. In photos 1, 2 and 3, what are the mounds of fresh soil? They remind me so much of
    gopher holes, but not the really big ones.

    1. Those would be molehills Florene. I take it you don’t have moles in California? They are the curse of the lawn fanatic…and a bit of a sod to get rid of. We still have mole catchers over here…a fairly ancient occupation.

      1. There are apparently moles, gophers and voles in California, but my experience has been only with gophers (aka pocket gophers).
        The coastal areas are where I’ve seen most evidence, making walking on the headlands a bit tricky. You have to keep your eyes on the ground or risk tripping. After a rain, there are muddy pockets everywhere. None of the mounds compare to your cone-shaped photos…. just hundreds of the little ones every few inches.
        Gophers also love newly-planted gardens. They pull the new plants right down through the soil, usually overnight, and in the morning a gardener has no visible garden!

        1. I remember seeing the film “Caddyshack” – gophers and disappearing golf greens etc! :lol:

          Thank God we don’t have the little sods over here. :D

    1. I’ve known for a while where the problem lay…In recent weeks I think I’ve worked out how to counter it’s more debilitating effects.

      While I doubt the problem will ever really go away…I reckon I’ve expanded our potential hill repertoire for the coming year. The 4 walks we’ve done this month have surprised me…especially how well Maisie is going.

  4. Strong Medication always works for me Ken.Try Heroin,,Morphine and crack cocaine for those tricky steeper Inclines.Welcome back to the fold.

    1. My, my it’s my day for the anonymous commenters.

      I reckon the first anonymous was MrP…and I reckon this one is…let me see…probably Bob? possibly Alex?

      The steep inclines…I just shut my eyes and pretend they’re not there! :lol: Realistically I have to avoid those if I mean to keep hillwalking for any length of time.

  5. Nice to see a post on WTFDW blog, but not so good that you’re not so good. I can imagine how frustrating – and painful – this is. Now that you’ve worked out the terrain that causes most difficulties I hope you are able to take steps (pun intended) to avoid it and do some hill walking..

    1. Hi Sheila :D

      Things are not as bad as they appear. “Nemesis” was over a month ago now. The last 2 weeks of February saw us begin to (physically) tackle the problem followed by a few wee experiments throughout March resulting in…ahem…5 Munros, 1 Corbett, 2 Grahams and 1 Marilyn…the last one being today at Earls Seat in the Campsies.

      We’ve kept ourselves out of gradient and really rough terrain trouble which seems to have done the trick.

      Biggest walk so far was the 4 Munro day – around 17km and 1300m of ascent.

      Oddly I’m not setting myself up to do a lot of major hillwalks…the whole thing was more about sorting out the problem in general as it was begining to affect me more on a day to day basis. The hillwalks provided a measure of how well I was doing both during and after. It seems that as long as I can keep what becomes a sharp ache out of my right calf then what happens elsewhere, in the gluts and hamstrings, hardly bothers me.

      Now I can get back to a wee bit of blogging and catching up on what everyone else has been up to in my absence. :lol:

  6. Not so much sympathy for the old faker. He is currently jogging up and down multiple Munro rounds and Jackie is knitting him running shorts for his birthday. I suspect that he just likes all of the attention. I can’t wait for his explanation of how he gratuitously dragged me over superfluous summits just for “fun”.

    1. Very true MrP. :D

      In the past 4 weeks Maisie and I have knocked out a few summits as we test both our capabilities. And yes…it’s only a few more weeks before I attempt running training on a Thursday evening. Only for an hour though. I’m really not sure how this will go. :( …but it’s worth a try.

      As for my inspired tour of miscellaneous hill summits on our last walk…you’ll just have to wait and see. :D

    1. Um…At present I would have to say…no. The days immediately after the walks have been…variable…vis-a-vis the legs. Really not confident of a second consecutive day. In nearly all the walks the muscles have been tying up on the walkout and I know that, after the Inverar round, I was toiling for a few days after. The situation is improving but I’m still a long way off my abilities of a few years back.

      It’s a funny thing this hillwalking. You can do it with all manner of minor niggles as it’s experience that carries you through…especially the ability to pace yourself properly over all sorts of terrain. It’s the recovery that becomes the hassle. :lol:

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