Dad and I orchestrate an earlier start on the Windsor trail toward Santa Fe Baldy. I know it will be our last hike for this visit, so I savor the time and try to appreciate how having Parkinson’s Disease affects his hiking experience.
It takes courage to plan a hike at all. Dad’s desire to hike is certain, but will his body comply? The more tempting the hike, the greater the anxiety that it will be too much. For my part, I must learn to be the reassuring, encouraging one. When I was young Dad always believed in me more than I did, always forgave all my fears and failures, and always celebrated my every achievement. Now it’s my turn to do this for him.
The beginning is hard. Strides are short, staccato. Arms tend to rise and clench. Medication helps with the tremors, but a good supply of courage is still required to hike through the tension of the first mile. Slowly, the pace becomes faster and smoother, conversation begins, and the hike is on.
Reaching treeline inspires a burst of optimism and involuntary smiles. The steepest part of the ascent passes with the greatest ease as the summit beckons, and the earth falls away around us. Reaching the summit makes anything seem possible. We ramble easily over the alpine meadows, searching out every feature of the terrain below.
On the descent his strides are strong, fluid, and lengthy. The joy of motion graces us. Dad begins to ponder future hikes. Maybe we could try the 26-mile, 8000-foot route up Pikes Peak…