Surprise Canyon Loop

April 9 thru April 18, 2015

This map (above) shows our overall route.

This was one of the hardest backpacking trips I have ever done.  Not that it was intrinsically that hard, but it was hard for me.  However, this trip was more difficult than some because it was a long trip without a cache, and we were carrying extra weight (climbing gear and wetsuits).  Ben, who is only a few years younger than me,  did much better.  I know I could have been in better condition, but I think my age is starting to take it's toll.  I am almost 66 years old.  I know several people who are older than me and still able to do these difficult hikes, but not me.  I have definitely lost strength in my legs, and my endurance is not what it used to be.  I think I will limit my future backpacking to easier off-trail routes, and trail.  And, of course, try to stay in shape. 

I am writing this about 2 weeks after the hike and although my muscles have recovered, and most of my scabs have fallen off, my knees are still very sore.  My right knee was replaced years ago, but it is starting to become painful.  However, my left knee is definitely worse for wear.  I sure hope it recovers enough so that I will not need it replaced too. 

All that said, I "enjoyed" the hike.  I am very glad I did it.  The canyons in this area are spectacular, and Ben is a wonderful hiking companion.  But I'm sure I'll never go back there again.

I want to thank Rich Rudow for the beta on this loop.  Without his input this hike would have been impossible for me.

Post Postscript:  It is August 16 as I write this.  My left knee continued to get worse.  About 6 weeks ago it became intolerable.  I had a cortisone injection, with little effect.  On August 5 I had arthroscopic surgery.  My knee is better, but I am very concerned that it will not improve enough for me to continue backpacking.  I'll probably need a knee replacement.  Maybe this coming winter. 

January 19, 2016.  I ended up having a left knee replacement on October 23rd.  It is now almost 3 months since surgery.  My knee is doing pretty well.  I get out for a mile or two walk every day, but my knee is still a bit painful and stiff.  But my extension and flexion is fine.  I need to get out an do more strenuous hiking, but the deep snow is making this difficult.  I am hopeful that I will be able to do an easy backpacking trip this April.  Time will tell.


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