As LC and I were hiking back down Big Butte late last month our hike had been challenging and beautiful, but to that point uneventful.
I was carrying trekking poles and on the way up to the top asked LC a couple of times if he wanted to use them. Knowing the stubborness of my Mountain Boy, I already knew the answer before even asking the question, but asked it anyway because it was the right thing to do.
The trip back down the butte was tough in its own way, but was nothing short of dangerous once we hit the canyon section less than a mile from the truck.
On the way up Big Butte the canyon section has been an uncivilized cussfest of winding road and non-stop steep climbing.
On the way down I realized just how tough this section was. Treacherously steep with loose dirt and gravel that constantly had us balance checking.
It was slow and laborious going.
Why I didn't think about the trekking poles at that point, I don't know. But I should have.
We were only half a mile from the truck when LCs' foot slid out from under him. He caught himself and managed to stay upright.
Close to the same spot my foot slid out from under ME, but I also managed to catch myself and stay upright.
The next day I was on a high from our hike but my left knee (that I blew out a few years ago during first training and then racing and which ultimately required surgery) was swollen.
As I hobbled around on a swollen knee I watched my Mountain Boy, disgusted.
My legs were tight and my knee was swollen but LC was moving just fine, and I watched him puttering around the house wondering just how come he seemed to be in such good shape when I........wasn't.
The next day my knee was fine, my legs were loose and all I had remaining was the continued high from walking Big Butte.
A cool - way cool - so cool place.
Day 3 is when the wheels fell off for LC.
If he had rested for a day or so maybe it wouldn't have been so bad but he didn't. Instead, LC jumped right back into seemingly never-ending house projects.
And on Day 3 he woke up in extreme pain.
His back was completely messed up.
The past month has been physically a very tough time for him. A time fueled by non-stop pain and very little sleep.
Initially I felt badly for him because if I hadn't talked LC into hiking the butte he wouldn't have slipped and injured his back.
Within a couple of days I had gotten over the guilt. He was a grown man, had made his own decisions, and sometimes injuries (like sore backs and swollen knees) are just the price you pay for doing business.
That guilt, and then lack of guilt, eventually transitioned into increasing concern though, as days turned into weeks and the pain was still great and the sleep was still little.
Strains. Pulled muscles. All should have healed in that time.
Finally, after more than three weeks, we both looked at each other and decided that it was time to see a doctor. Enough was enough..................
LC has broken his back twice in his life, and yet he lived a life in law enforcement where mountain boys didn't willingly submit to the law because it was family tradition to fight the law.
Stupid rednecks, with their stupid redneck family traditions and their stupid redneck lack of impulse control.
Dropping LC off at the clinic in Blackfoot, Kory and I went in search of something to do while we waited.
After killing an hour in a store while my pup waited for me in the truck, we drove back to the clinic, walked for 20 minutes, then found a concrete pillar to sit on outside the clinic.
10 minutes later LC walked out to tell me that he was still waiting to be seen by the doctor.
Kory and I drove to another store where I killed another hour. Rinse and repeat walks and wait, and after dropping him off four hours earlier, LC finally walked out of the clinic.
X-rays had shown a mess in there. Things that were supposed to be straight, were bent. Things that were supposed to be bent, were straight.
Armed with prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain killers, the doctor had promised to show the X-rays to an orthopedic surgeon and call us back on Wednesday.
Which was yesterday and nobody called.
That being said the drugs have been working, LC has been sleeping and even between drugs my Mountain Boy is now speculating that his back is improving.
By the time I was driving two tired people and one tired pup out of Blackfoot and through the vast emptiness of the Snake River Plain, the sun was beginning to set.
My beautiful new dog had patiently waited with me all day - happy to wait in the truck for me, happy to walk with me, happy to stand in the parking lot watching the cars and people go by, for hours on end.
As I drove further and further away from civilization and ours was the only vehicle on the highway for endless miles, I finally realized that the sky was on fire.
Man and dog were both eager to just get home. Where there was warmth and comfortable places to sit and lie. Where there was food.
But I stopped the truck anyway - just for a few quick minutes - to take these pictures on the way home............
As we pulled off the two lane highway (that leads to Blackfoot in one direction and Arco in the other), I looked down at the flat and straight one mile stretch of black road that leads to the outskirts of town.
And then I looked up at the flaming sky and Big Butte that dominated the landscape, and that is located 18 miles from town.
I LOVE that butte, loved the hike, loved the beauty that I could see in all directions as I climbed to the top of it one steep foot after another.
But it was also the reason we had spent all day in Blackfoot. The reason for weeks of pain and sleepless nights. The reason that house projects had been left undone, and walks with woman and dog had not been taken.
When I wrote about our hike in an earlier post, I wrote that I thought I will wait to ask LC whether or not it was worth it.
Now I don't think I will ever ask him.
I just want him better...............
I pulled over to the side of the road, climbed out of the truck and stood in the middle of the road to take this picture..............
And two final pictures just as we were coming into town.
So beautiful it could make you cry..............
I hope that those who read this have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Real loss only occurs when you lose something that you love more than yourself..............Anonymous