Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Bledsoe Brace

Above: this is a picture of what appears to be the same knee brace I use for hiking--the Bledsoe Axiom-OA Custom. Mine is black, but it comes in a variety of colors, depending on your wardrobe choices. :)

I love my brace. I use it for all my hikes (and for local neighborhood walks), and I find it essential to keep my femor and my tibia (shin bone?) in place. With loose ligaments, those two sometimes find it hard to play well together, and the brace returns them to alignment (and keeps them there) which makes things more comfortable for me.

One caveat: I think these things are expensive; mine was custom-made and covered, fortunately, by insurance. They're possibly around $400+ otherwise. Still, if the brace buys you enough independence as mine has bought me, it might be worth it?

These braces last a long time too. I've had mine now for four years of frequent use (most days for at least an hour or so each day--often six to seven hours many days), and it shows no sign of wearing at all. I call it my exo-skeleton; it's pretty comfortable once you get the straps well fitted, and it's fairly light as functional braces go. Football players and contact sports players wear this type of brace, so I'm very confident that it will support and protect my knee in all my activities.

The brace is also pretty adjustable; I've worn mine over shorts and pants, and with the adjustable velcro knee and thigh straps, I've still managed to achieve good comfortable support.

Anyway, without it, I couldn't do what I want to do, so cheers to Bledsoe for a great brace and thanks to the orthopod who ordered it for me. :)

Here's the info link if you'd like more info:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Knee MRI on Monday

I will be having a knee MRI on Monday morning to see if the knee problems are, indeed, as both the surgeon and the PT suggest, ACL, LCL, and/or PCL tears.

I originally hurt my knee three years when I tripped over (myself) in a softball game at work--my first and last softball game, to be honest. When I fell, I landed on both bent knees and both outstretched arms--on all fours, really. As a result, I broke my elbow (which I knew immediately) and tore my PCL (which I realized the next day). [When I do something, I'm usually pretty thorough. :) ]

My elbow is mostly fine now, but my knee remains a problem-hence the MRI on Monday. I've done all the conservative measures--months of PT, years of gym work on the bike and building quads, no running etc etc, but still the knee feels unreliable most of the time.

I won't know the MRI results until possibly my PT appointment on Friday next or (more likely) the orthopedist appointment on June 4.

Either way, early on Monday morning, I get to lie inside a clanking, tapping, giant magnet that takes cool pictures of my knee. Talk about "thin-slicing" (a la Blink by Malcom Gladwell).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore, May 9 2010

Maria and I went for a Mother's Day hike today to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes, and what a wonderful hike it turned out to be. This view above, typical of the views on a sunny May day in Point Reyes, shows the wildflowers, out in force, on the approach to Wildcat Beach.

A stunning, stunning, stunning day.

Our chosen route: Palomarin Trailhead--Coast Trail--Ocean Lake Trail--Wildcat Camp--Wildcat Beach to the falls.

You can get a choice of maps from from Bear Valley Visitor Center; I would get the free black and white map on big paper. It has mileage and very clear trail indicators. Check also the tide timetable at Bear Valley Visitor Center or online. You'll want to walk along Wildcat Beach for a mile if you want to get to the bottom of the falls without going through poison ivy.

Below: the Palomarin Trailhead sign; the trail has lots of signs indicating direction; with several options to get to Alamere Falls, it's worth reviewing a trail map to help you plan your route.

Below: the early part of the trail is on hard packed dirt, but later parts vary from angular granite, to loam, to sand. The trail has plenty of poison ivy and stinging nettles, but they're off to the side of the trail, so they're easy to avoid.

Below: my first banana slug. Apparently, you're supposed to put the slug on your hand and lick it. Since I'm not a UC Santa Cruz alum, I didn't have to do that. :) The slug is next to Maria's new hiking shoes for size comparison.

Below: an early indicator of direction for Wildcat Campground--an area with beach access to Alamere Falls.

Below: getting closer!

Below: one of four wooden bridges on this hike--lots of creek crossings but all with bridges, so no wet feet.

Below: One of two largish lakes you pass on the Ocean Lakes Loop Trail. This one below is Pelican Lake on the way to Wildcat Beach.

Below: first glimpse of Wildcat Beach from the Coast Trail.

Below: Looking North at a foggy view of Arch Rock, north of Wildcat Beach. The fog, while present at the higher hills, didn't touch our hike at all; instead, if you looked to the left (south), our direction of travel, we had light wispy clouds and a bright blue sky.

Below: our view for lunch; we sat on camping logs and enjoyed couscous (thanks, Maria!), hummus, and drinks. A wonderful place for lunch with great company in a stunningly beautiful locale. People travel from all over the world to this park. We're blessed to be able to visit it so easily.

Below: Maria and I were thrilled with the walk along Wildcat beach toward the falls; the sunshine, the warm temps, the stunning scenery, the deserted beach; we decided that there was nothing better for this wonderful day.

Below: the view toward Alamere Falls; the beach was steaming because the air was so warm.

Below: Approaching Alamere Falls--they're already looking cool and impressive, even from a distance.

Below: 'skull' rock--an interesting rock on the beach with holes bored into it from sea/stone action over time.

Below: the bottom of the falls, where the fresh water meets the sea on Wildcat Beach.

Below: here I am, enjoying the view of Alamere Falls. Lots of water sounds--the crash of the ocean waves mixed with the constant roar of the waterfalls, leading to a very enjoyable snacking area. :)

In this pic below too, you can also see my Bledsoe brace, for which I am supremely grateful and without which I wouldn't be able to complete my hikes. It's my exo-skeleton--custom-made, very comfortable, and essential for my knee.

Below: On the way back to Wildcat Camp, a view toward Arch Rock.

Below: more Arch Rock views from Wildcat Beach; the clouds, while threatening, dissipated rapidly, leaving only sunshine and blue skies.

Below: field of wildflowers (wild mustard) at Wildcat Camp.

Below: more wild mustard fields, including cow parsley--a blast from the past for me. Just behind me, later on the hike, we saw a fawn, taking gigantic yet inefficient mostly vertical leaps to get away from us. Gangly legs and curious eyes-enchanting little guy.

Below: one of a series of unending amazing views on this hike. This view, on the way back, is looking north toward Arch Rock.

Below: the trail on the way back, looking toward Palomarin Beach, the access to which is 0.6 miles from the Palomarin Trailhead.

  • Weather: prediction was awful--thunder storms, 54 degrees. Reality was wonderful--layers, of course, since it's Point Reyes, but at least some of the day was in t-shirts with block on. The rest of the day was a long sleeve fleece with sometimes a fleece vest. No rain although it dumped in Novato about an hour earlier.
    Trail: mix of loam, sharp granite, loam, wet mud, and sand. Faily steep in places and most often up and down. Not much flat, so be prepared.

  • Palomarin Trailhead: 0

  • Coast Trail: 4.2

  • Ocean Lake Loop: 1.3
  • Wildcat Beach: 1
  • Wildcat Beach: 1
  • Coast: 5.5
  • Palomarin Trailhead: 0
Total: 13 miles
Time: 6 or so hours, including an hour or so for taking pix, enjoying the views, eating lunch, and sitting by the falls. Plenty of up and down, but nothing huge. Not flat, though, so be aware of that.

More info?

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Well, I'll tell you where I haven't been recently and much to my chagrin. Hiking.

I have been grading, working, attending my son's baseball games, and going to gigs, so I've had a good mixture of work and family time, but still--no hiking.

And I so need to hike. In a big way. I just need to walk and walk and walk for a few hours. Outside. In the air. In the quiet. In nature--to catch up.
So--I plan to go out this upcoming weekend, hopefully to the coast, to blow away the cobwebs and to see some sights, hear some sounds, and do some 'sploring.

I cannot, cannot, cannot wait.