Saturday, July 16, 2022

Hiking through Disability with Modo

two children & a woman stand on large rocks in front of a Modo carshare vehicle in a parking lot surrounded by tall trees in Lighthouse Park

Today we decided on a whim to grab a Modo & go to Whytecliff Park, to see what we could see at the still fairly low low tide. The weather forecast looked great--cool, overcast, 10% chance of rain. Maybe the park wouldn't be too too busy, since it didn't really seem like beach weather? When I left the house to go pick up the Modo that is just a few blocks from home, it had started raining. Guess we got lucky & were that 10% today? (sad trombone noises)

a girl touches a slice of a large yellow cedar tree & looks up at a sign with information about the 1400 year old treeThe short walk to get the car was still quite pleasant, as the rain was really light & I realized, hey! Here's another new thing post-hip surgery. It'd been ages since I'd just gone for a walk in the rain with an umbrella. When I used a cane before my surgery, It always felt way too awkward to also carry an umbrella, so on the extremely rare occasion I walked anywhere & it was raining, I'd just use a raincoat with a hood.

Once I drove the car back to the house, we decided to shift plans to a hike in Lighthouse Park, so if it continued raining, we'd at least be under the trees for a lot of it. When we arrived at the park, we were trying to figure out when we last visited. I realized as we were setting off on the hike that the last time was almost exactly three years ago. 

a man & two children walk down stairs on a trail toward a rocky shoreline in Lighthouse ParkHow did I know it was almost exactly three years ago that we were in Lighthouse Park? Well, that experience was what convinced me to apply for a SPARC disabled parking pass. Three years ago, we walked down the main trail--if you haven't been there, Beacon Lane is really more of a road, though it's closed to cars--then scrambled down to the East Beach. I remember that I was already nearly DONE by that point from the pain of my hip osteoarthritis. From about 800m of walking down a hill. But we still had to get back up to the car. I was so tired & in a lot of pain by the time we got back up to the car in the parking lot. 

When we got through West Van near Park Royal, bridge traffic was moving pretty slow, as usual, so we decided to stop at White Spot & wait it out while we had dinner. We ended up driving around & around in the mall lot, getting slightly lost because some of the exits were closed due to construction. We couldn't find any parking near the restaurant. It was incredibly frustrating: I think it took us 15 minutes to find somewhere to park the car & then we had to walk a a few hundred metres to get to the restaurant. After having sat in the car for a bit post hike, my hips were pretty stiff & painful, so this relatively short distance was really awful. 
the view of the gun emplacement looking west from above East Beach in Lighthouse Parka man, a woman & two children stand inside the graffiti covered old gun emplacement in Lighthouse Park looking out over the ocean
When I got home, I looked up the SPARC website & looked at the requirements for applying for a pass. I printed off the form, made an appointment with my doctor so she could sign it, then sent it off with the fee & my pass arrived in the mail soon after. SPARC passes are not tied to the license plate of the car, only to the person who has the pass, so we used them with Modo cars when we were parking anywhere with a big lot. It made my life a lot easier to have a wider space to park in too, so I could swing my door fully open & lever myself out of the car & get my cane or Nordic poles out. In the early days after my hip replacement surgery, I needed that space to get on my crutches too. 

About a month ago, I got a letter in the mail, letting me know it was time to renew my SPARC pass, as it would expire at the end of July this year. That was about two months after my hip replacement surgery, when I was getting to the point where I was starting to feel downright able-bodied. It's funny, because four months ago, I was making a mental note to reapply for my SPARC pass later this summer. Then, poof! I got the call for a hip replacement surgery date on a cancellation in three days, & my life changed.
a girl walks along a wooded trail, using Nordic poles
Not that surgery was an instantaneous fix for my hip issues--recovery felt slow at times & I've definitely done a lot of work to get here since my hip replacement. It's been about 15 weeks now since my surgery & I'm still adjusting to what my body can do on a weekly basis. Today when we packed up all our things to go on this short hike, I brought my Nordic poles to help me with stability on the rockier & steeper bits of the trails. However, once I got down to the water with them, I realized that they were more hassle than help, so I let Bronte use them on the way back up. 

It is so incredibly satisfying to really feel the progress like this. For weeks after surgery, I was walking up stairs with only my left leg, pulling my right leg up behind me each step. Then I started walking up alternating legs, but it was still painful to take those steps with my right maybe a month ago.

But today I did a 2km hike with about 100m of elevation gain with no pain at all. It felt so good to be able to just enjoy the forest; I was grinning all the way up the hill back to the Modo car. It's really funny how these two Lighthouse Park visits bookended my SPARC pass so perfectly. 

I cannot wait to do more hiking this summer!

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