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Elevation for the first time in 15 months!

Yep, I have not hiked a mountain or even a large hill since July 2019. For most of this year I’ve been dealing with knee problems, and every time I planned to hike I changed my mind because I wasn’t sure about my knees. Well, come to find out I should have hiked because my knees feel better after yesterday’s hike than they have in a long time!

Yesterday’s hike was 2215’ Mosquito Mountain in West Forks, Maine. AllTrails lists it as a hard 2.7 miles, but apparently difficulty is very subjective because this almost-52 overweight guy with 2 bad knees and Achilles tendinitis acting up on one foot found it pretty easy!

The parking lot is small and hard to identify because there’s no sign. There’s a very faint red paw print on a rock near the road. It’s directly across from a camp on Moxie Lake, with room for maybe 5 small vehicles at most if the end ones park half in the weeds. So carpool if possible because the (very bumpy) road isn’t wide enough to park on. 

AllTrails gives the elevation gain as 1200’, which would be fairly strenuous if much of the gain wasn’t in 2 spots. The rest of the trail was a very mild incline. The trail itself is very narrow, maintained just enough to keep it passable and with a couple trees down across it. Other blow downs were cleared by just cutting out the parts of trees blocking it. 

Near the summit the trail tees to an overlook barely 100 yards away to the left, and the summit about 1/4 mile away to the right. There’s a fun boulder jumble stretch going to the summit. The overlook has a wider view, you can see from Boundary Bald Mountain to the north in Jackman to some fairly good-sized mountains to the south-southwest, but to me the vista from the summit (south and west) was more impressive. The day was one of those clear days you only get in fall and winter, and easily visible were what I’m pretty sure is Mount Bigelow, The Horns to its west, and what I’m guessing is Sugarloaf to its east. I’m sure both Crocker and Abraham were visible but I don’t know which ones they were. 

 My hiking partner didn’t take many pics, and my phone’s camera doesn’t work 90% of the time, otherwise this post would be loaded!

Bigelow and The Horns?
Way to spoil the view, Smith!

Due to my tender heel I didn’t want to wear boots, so I was glad that I never got rid of my Salewa Mountain Trainer shoes. They’re the most finicky shoes to lace up so my heels are locked in place, and I had to stop twice to re-tie them, but between the sticky Vibram sole and increased ankle mobility of a shoe I never once worried about my footing.

Being as comfortable as they are was a huge plus, too. If the trail had been muddy or wet I probably would have went with boots despite my tendinitis, but the day was cool enough that most of the little water that was left was frozen.

So my Saturday was a great day, with a great hike in great weather and plenty of great views. It’s time to get back out there! I’ve already added a bunch of trails within a 50 mile or so radius to my AllTrails list and we‘re going to start doing them whether on foot or snowshoe. 

Glad you got back out there Phil! I noticed you were on the Maine Hiking FB group and was wondering why I hadn't seen you posting any hikes. Injuries suck, but I too find that keeping in motion tends to be better than not. One knee is always braced and I usually carry another in my pack in case the "good" knee starts squawking. The more I go the less problems I have it seems. Hopefully now that you've gotten out you'll find it keeps getting better, but you are going to need something warmer than the Salewa MTs soon :)

Excellent!  It's all uphill from here!  Enjoy the hike!

Good news Phil.

Around the age of 60 I started having problems with my knees.  I played basketball seriously for 40 years, often outside on pavement.  That is a lot of jumping and changing direction.   On of my good mules bowed a tendon and as part of the rehab I had to take her on a walk every day, no matter what the weather.  After about 5 weeks, my knees felt pretty normal. 

Now I am hiking in the desert every day behind the house as part of heart therapy.  The result is the same.  My knees have never felt better.  There are lessons to be learned from these experiences.  As we age we need to keep moving.  It is okay to go slower and not as far, but sitting around is your worst enemy. 

I wore a brace on my worse knee, and will be getting another one this Friday when I go to Skowhegan. I should get 2, this one is about 6 years old and the Velcro isn’t as sticky as it could be. 

Once we get enough snow to snowshoe I’ll be out just about every night. Without a couple feet of snow to pack the undergrowth down the woods are too tangled for hiking and the few actual trails that are close enough for nightly hikes are kinda boring LOL. 

The friend I went with had never hiked a mountain before and really enjoyed it. She wants to do more so this weekend I think we’re heading to N. Conway to pick up a few winter things at EMS or REI, and hopefully we’ll have time for a hike up Pleasant Mountain. 

Two thumbs up Phil. 

Add glucosamine, stretching, rehab exercises, and a hot tub.   I like DMSO also.

Great to make plans for winter activities. 

Have you ever thought of clearing out tangled trails with a saw and pruners?

I take glucosamine/chondroitin/turmeric/DMSO every morning, I also take  serrapeptase when I remember my stomach is empty. I’m not sure if it’s helping much since my ligament damage is at least as bad as the cartilage loss, but I guess it can’t make things much worse. 

There really are no trails around here other than the maintained ones up some local mountains and a small network at a lodge. And snowmobile/ATV trails, obviously, but you’re risking your life hiking on those. My guess is that 90-95% of land around here is owned by timber companies and they really frown upon making any kinds of changes. I put some wooden pickets in the snow to mark paths for friends who snowshoe, and while out one night I got back to the Jeep to find a bunch of my stakes and a note to call the agent for that timber company under my wiper. I didn’t get in trouble but was told that no markings are permitted. So hopefully my friends have good senses of direction!

Congratulations, Phil! I'm so glad you were able to get back outside and up a mountain again.

I bet it was a wonderful feeling.

Good to hear you got out of the house and up doing some hiking which is a great workout. I' m 69 and done/ doing my share of hiking/ backpacking & skiing. Have had various knee injuries & minor / major surgeries. My advice for some of these knee issues folks bringing up is to see your doctor and ask for a referral to a orthopedist that will thoroughly check out your knee, Including and most importantly an MRI on the knee thats going to tell the doctor whats going on with knee and needed procedures. Modern technology available to orthopedists is great. In addition, a good pair of hiking poles makes a big difference. 

No matter what gets us out there with Mother Nature,  all good. 

I had an MRI about 6 years ago after injuring my knee at work, there weren‘t many things not damaged in some way. eventually l‘ll need new ones, but since they supposedly don’t last much longer than 10 years I’ll wait a little longer. They could hurt a lot more, at least I’m able to get out even if I haven’t been LOL

May 22, 2022
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