Aug 21, 08: My Legs and The Dog Lake Hike

Dog Lake is a 9,170 foot high subalpine lake in Yosemite. Beautiful views with Mt. Dana in the backdrop to the east surround this little gem of a hiking destination. Rounding out this year's vacation, we decided to go to Tuolumne Meadows in the High Country of Yosemite for a change. The cool air felt great, and I wanted to see what my legs could handle given the recent developments in the location of my weakness.

Having done the Half Dome hike last year just 2 days after getting my diagnosis, I had a very vivid recollection of how my legs were. Though only 4 miles round trip and about an 800 foot climb, I wanted to do this Dog Lake hike to see how my legs were different, if at all. Recall my recent post entitled "Something Happened Last Night" and how it felt like my legs had a major step toward a nerve repair. I figured this hike would shed some light. It did.

In the 2 weeks prior to this hike, Kathy, Jake and I prepared by going to the lake, swimming, golfing, drinking, eating whatever. It's a vacation, and it was nice to get away from the routine I have become so used to. I know I inflamed my bladder a little and had to wake up at night to pee a few times, but sleeping on the deck in the pine trees in the afternon made up for it.

As we got out of the truck, the two hour drive from the cabin to the meadow stiffened up my legs a little. As we found the trailhead, I really wondered if I was going to be able to make it. My legs felt so stiff and I was pretty uncertain. some thoughts of going backwards from not working out over the prior 2 weeks crossed my mind.

Soon those fears left me. My legs loosened up and I came to find I was quite able to do the walk. 9,000 feet made the climb a little challenging to the heart and lungs, but that was normal. I wanted my legs to work. My right leg was stable and strong. My left was fairly stable, but as I had blogged before, the weakness has clearly moved. The weakness in my left leg now is 100% on the quadracep. I climbed the path fairly strongly, going over uneven terrain more like a hiker than an MS patient.

The weakness for this hike came in lifting my left leg up each step in the climb. My left foot would drag a little bit as I would swing my leg up, but once my foot was planted, it was strong and I was able to thrust the mext step powerfully. It was quite thrilling actually.

About half way up, Kathy asked me how I was doing, if I could make it, and more importantly, would I be able to make it down. given the quad was the weak link now, coming down the hill might be a challenge. I knew it, but I said I was fine.

Two miles and around 800 or so feet up, Jake found the lake and we followed him in. We sat at the edge for a few minutes and ate our snacks and took in the view. After a little rest, we headed back down the hill to find out the question of how that would be.

I couldn't have been happier. I was more stable than in the Half Dome Hike last year, and even when I stumbled I was able to recover normally. The quadracep was definitely taxed on the downhill and I had to stop and rest it for a few seconds every little bit, but overall, this hike was clearly and definitively proof that I have improved.
So now I'm home and tomorrow it's back to the swimming and the normal routine.

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