I've spent a year and a bit going round in circles. "Yes," they said when I had a knee replacement, "you will be able to go hill walking. And yes, you will be able to go up Munros." I took the Munro bit with a pinch of salt but friends with two knee replacements could walk five to seven miles so I was hopeful. I got myself a physio, did all the exercises exactly as I was told but I was never able to walk very far. If I increased the distance, in a few days, I had to stop and lie on the sofa until the pain subsided. Things were definitely better than before the operation but it was frustrating. And I am stubborn. I persist. Which is why I kept going round in circles. My Kindle got a lot of use. Then, last November, things took a turn for the worse. It was like having a very nasty crick in my neck only in my groin. It felt as if something was out of place and it was coming from my knee. Exercises. It got better then worse still. I could hardly go up or downstairs. Back to the sofa and the Kindle ! After a few days I managed to hirple round the supermarket leaning on a trolley. Then, very slowly, through December things changed. I still wasn't walking far but it felt different. I increased the distance and it was OK. By New Year I could walk about two miles day after day with no ill effects. Progress continued through January. Then, on a miserable day of low cloud I decided to go up to the limekiln on East Lomond and photograph the hill for an alphabet photochallenge. D for dim. The conditions were perfect. The hill or the limekiln would be wreathed in cloud. Off I went from the car park through mud and puddles with my camera bag on my back and my tripod under my arm. The hill was invisible. After a while a man passed me. We looked at each other but didn't speak. Usually walkers exchange the time of day but I think we both knew we were a bit mad to be there. Slowly he went ahead and as the gate to the limekiln came near I saw him go through the opposite gate and take the path up the hill. At that point madness seized me completely and I followed. It was at least four years since I'd been up there and I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. The path is very distinct but zig zags like a staircase and was wet, muddy and full of slippery rocks. I knew there was a bit near the top that was awkward to climb and my new knee doesn't bend well. Nor was there any chance of a photo. The cloud was too thick, in some ways a blessing as I couldn't see the steep slope I might roll down if I stumbled and fell. But was I daunted ? Not much. I was however very very careful. I could imagine what the emergency services would say if they had to come out. Seventy five ? A knee replacement ? By myself ? On a day like this ? The thought of it got me safely up the awkward bit and shortly after the summit trig point loomed out of the cloud. That's when I remembered there were three different paths going down the other side. Which was the one I needed to take ? Thankfully I chose correctly and reached the little gate which leads to a gentler descent. I was almost on the radio masts before I could see them and the car park there was empty. As I plodded along the track behind the hill to where I started, I wondered how the emergency services would get to me anyway. With no visibility they couldn't use a helicopter. A four wheel drive could use the track I was on but the gates at either end are kept locked. Who had the keys ? It would have taken quite a while to sort out. Thinking about it kept me occupied as I splashed through the rain and gathering gloom. Eventually the path descended more steeply and I knew I was nearly back where I started. If I skidded and hurt myself I could crawl to the road and wave down a passing car. But I'd never really been worried. I'd been amusing myself with possible but unlikely scenarios. A bit as I do when I make a plan for when I meet a mad axe man in the forest. I got into my car with no D for dim photo but feeling I'd fulfilled the remit in another way. And also satisfied. My knee wasn't going to beat me. East Lomond is a small hill but maybe a Munro wasn't going to be totally out of the question in the future.
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D for Dim
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