Monday, August 29, 2005

Month 11 TKR anniversary: my total knee replacement goes mountain climbing

This is Mt. Quandary, in the Rockies west of Denver. The peak height is 14,265 feet above sea level.

In early August, about 10 months and a week after my TKR, our extended family took a group of ten people from 10,400 feet (the trailhead) up Mt Quandary to the summit.

I "only" made it to about 13,700 ft. There's a "saddle" on the ridge. I made it across the saddle and about a third of the way up the last push to the summit.

Here's the view from the other direction, looking down into the valley (at the top of the picture).

This picture was shot by my brother-in-law, looking back down onto the saddle. You can see the saddle in the shot from below. Those "ants" are people, folks. Please note the patch of light colored rocks and the patch of green.

This is me, at about 13,500 ft. You can see the light colored rocks and the green patch behind me. I made it this far, and met the rest of the crew returning from the summit.

The hike took 3.5 hrs to the top (or for me, being last in the group, to get to this height). The trip down took 2.5 hrs. All of us live our normal lives at about 1,200 ft. We flew to Denver on a Saturday, and did Quandary on the following Thursday. Breathing was a challenge, and for all of us.

My TKR knee was fine, both up and down. However, all of our calves ached from the return trip.

We also did a 23+ mi bike ride (on Sunday), and a 3 hr hike up a mountain at a lower elevation (on Tuesday). I went into this vacation expecting to have limitations re outdoor activities. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were none. My knee did not hold me back --- at all.

This is me at the top of Vail Pass, at about 12,000 ft, just about to ride the bike DOWN from the pass to a town called Frisco, about 15 miles away. After we got to Frisco, my daughter and I pedaled from a additional 8 or 9 mi --- uphill --- from Frisco to the outskirts of Breckenridge. Breck is about 500 ft higher than Frisco, so it was only slightly uphill. But I can assure you, we KNEW that the road was uphill.

I really just wanted you to see the scar on my knee.