By most objective standards, I’ve recovered from my fall. I’m riding again, I rarely feel like I’m going to lose my balance and trip, my ankle doesn’t hurt most of the time and I have almost regained the full range of motion in my shoulder.
The mental aspects of recovery take longer. Hunting again was a huge hurdle. I doubted my abilities and could only too clearly imagine what could go long. Of course, the hunts were a blast and were huge confidence builders. I could still do the things that I most enjoy.
But I’m still not as carefree as I used to be. I used to go out and ride for hours, never worrying about being off on my own. I followed maps, I explored, I didn’t give it a second thought. I think a lot now about being safe. Last week I was scouting the route for a hunt trail ride. It got me out of my comfort zone, back onto trails that I haven’t been on for more than a year.
There were a few times when I was so deep in the woods, it felt like I was in the wilds of Vermont, not 16 miles outside of Boston in Concord, Mass. I started to think about what could go wrong. Would we get attacked by off leash dogs? Would Zelda get spooked by a deer? Would we finally see the bear that’s rumored be be wandering around? Of course, none of those things happened. And it felt good.
Zelda is pretty brave. She doesn’t scare easily. There were a few places where she told me that it wasn’t safe to cross: rocky crossings flooded by recent rain; deep mud that threatened to swallow us like quicksand.
And she’s smart. She always knows the shortest way back and she is not shy about telling me. Zelda got quite miffed with me for taking the long way back. It was lucky I was wearing spurs. In the end, we covered about 7 1/2 miles. And yes, we did go the long way home.