Something of the Marvelous

After hosting an open house this afternoon, I picked up my sister Linda, who had agreed to be my walking companion today. We walked at Mercy Park with our mom a few days ago. That walk didn’t count for my 30 Day Walking Challenge, since I walked there on Day 1. I walked in a new location that evening. However, I enjoyed the time with Mom and Sister, chatting and laughing as we looped around the park.

Linda expressed a desire to walk with me this afternoon, and mentioned Wildcat Park…a place she hasn’t yet visited. I’ve already walked at Wildcat too. But driving home to change clothes after open house, an idea presented itself. I knew where to walk.

I picked Linda up and told her the plan. We were indeed going to Wildcat Park. However, we were going to walk on the trail south of Shoal Creek.

Here was the first real challenge, in my Walking Challenge. I had not walked on that trail for seven years. It’s not because it’s lacking in anyway. The trail parallels the river for a short distance, after crossing a low water bridge. Then it climbs through woods to the top of a rocky bluff, overlooking the valley below that cradles Shoal Creek. The views are amazing.

No, I had not walked that trail in recent years because I couldn’t. I used to do the 75 minute trail once or twice a week, back in 2010. Even then, the climb to the top of the bluff was not easy for me, due to pain and weakness in my legs. By 2011, as the sciatica in my left leg continued to worsen, I could no longer walk that far.

Late this afternoon, my sister and I set off confidently, crossing over the river and starting on the path toward the top. I didn’t know if I could do it. I warned Linda that I might have to turn back. But I was going to give it my best effort. No matter the outcome, it was a beautiful day for a walk.

As the paved path wound upward, the river fell away below us. It had been so long since I had trekked on the southern side, that I veered off the main path too soon. Backtracking, we climbed higher still…and there it was. I recognized the worn path over rocks made smooth by countless sneakered feet. This was it. The ground leveled out as we reached the top.

A magnificent view was our reward for the climb. Far below the river flowed, already in shadows as the sun sank toward the horizon. We continued over rocky, uneven ground, watching our steps, until we reached the stone table nestled in the woods.

There was a group of young men seated around the table. We didn’t intrude. Instead, Linda humored me as we took a selfie, capturing the valley below in the background. It was time to make the descent.

We chatted as we walked down the sloping trail. The river grew closer and at last the ground leveled out and we were once again on a paved path. My sister and I are both drawn to water. After rains last night, the river was up slightly, its waters tumbling and splashing as it sang to us of its journey.

I felt such peace…and such incredible joy. I did it. I not only made the climb up the path, I did it easily. In fact, my walking today was markedly improved over my last hike here, seven years ago. I didn’t experience pain, nor did I limp or become winded. I was ecstatic. I don’t feel like I have my old legs back. I feel like I have new legs.

Linda and I enjoyed our walk so much, that we intend to return soon and do the whole 75 minute loop, from riverside to the top of the bluff and back down on the other side. We will bring along a backpack, toting bottles of water, fruit and nuts, and find a space high atop the hill to claim for a bit as we enjoy the views and the sighing winds.

I am ready.

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