Category Archives: ACL recovery

Hiking Dog Mountain! First major post-injury hike!

Hiking Dog Mountain!  First major post-injury hike!

Sunday, 11-June-2017


I hiked Dog Mountain with a dog!

This was a pretty brutal hike, I won’t lie.  In retrospect, probably a little too brutal for my poor healing knee.  But there was no permanent damage, and it gave me an excuse to chill and relax for a few days afterwards, to recover, so I won’t complain.

What were the vital statistics, you might ask?  Well.  I’ve got you covered:

Length: ~8 miles.  Websites say anywhere from 6 to 7.5… but let me tell you.  I’ve got the GPS track to prove it.  They lie.

Elevation: 2800 ft.  This one… pretty accurate.  It was rough.

Beauty: tons-a-pretty

The hike was awesome, even with the toughness in mind.

Sarah had been watching Instagram, keeping tabs on the status of the meadows at the top of the mountain.  Because, if you haven’t heard, the meadows at the top of Dog Mountain are why you hike it, and why June is the ideal time to hike.  Why?  Well, in June the wildflowers bloom.


We started up the trailhead at 6:30 in the morning, just after sunrise.  It was cold, and bleak, and we were a little sleepy from the drive from Portland.  I was cranky, because one of my breakfast protein bars had vanished.  Seriously.  I still haven’t found it.  Ollie says she didn’t eat it… but I know the truth.

The walk up was pretty solid – Sarah and I chatted, Ollie ran, and we made it to the summit meadows by 11:00 or so.  Just in time for the sun to finish burning off most of the clouds, and for the flowers to come into full bloom.


A bit of lunch refreshed us – doubly so, since Sarah had packed a surprise block of cheese and log of summer sausage.


Then down the mountain we went, passing by the massive throngs of Portlanders who were making the pilgrimage to the Instagram capital of the area.  Seriously… we saw so many people posing, re-taking, and battering their photo buttons.  I mean, that’s kind of awesome, since it means people are going outside and getting into nature.  But still – it’s fun to watch people repeatedly posing, trying for the perfect shot.

The hike down was the hardest part… arguably one of the toughest trips since my accident.  The first few miles were fine, but once we got to the last mile and a half, the elevation really started getting to me.  Sarah and Ollie held true, and stopped with me every few hundred yards.  My trekking poles took the brunt of the battle, and slowly but surely we made our way back to the car.

ACL Recovery emails – weeks 16 and 18. Yep. Skipped another one. 17 this time.

ACL Update – Week 16
Sent, 20-June-2017
Ohh wow… I can’t believe that I nearly forgot about sending this email.  It’s been ages since the initial injury, and I’ve been walking and moving around so well that this almost feels silly to be writing.  Life isn’t much different than it was before the injury, honestly… I’m climbing a lot less intensely, and we’re doing smaller trips… but my running endurance has gotten pretty good, and Sarah and I are both living life pretty well (knock on wood!).
So I think this might be one of the last “ACL recovery” update emails.  I’ll probably transition over toward either “life status” emails, or back to regularly posting updates on the blog.  We’ll see.  Any thoughts from the gallery are welcome 🙂
But ACL!  Knee!  Running!
This weekend was pretty intense, but last week was actually quite low-key.  Hiking Dog Mountain two weekends ago was rough, and necessitated a full two days of rest afterward for me to come close to recovering.  And even then, we stayed pretty low-key for the rest of the week.
I did PT, of course, but only two of the five days of the week – it was good, but the fatigue from the hike was very real.  Motion is strong, though.  I can jump and jog farther and longer, and by the time I went in for my PT appointment on Friday morning, I was feeling very good again.
Ed (Physical Therapist) agreed.  He’s started me into sprints and side-to-side movements finally.  I’m not cutting while running, but I am starting to pivot around my knee, and I’m doing more and more single leg jumps (which are some of the harshest movements that the ACL can do).
Over the weekend, My Dad and Step-Mom visited, and we all got some pretty good workouts in… Sarah and I did some early-morning jogging (over 2 miles!!!), and then the four of us walked another 3+ miles over the course of the day.  It was tiring, but very rewarding.
We’re moving on.  I’m hitting PT a bit harder this week, and making sure to go for runs early in the morning at the track by the high school.  I still don’t enjoy running… but having Sarah and Ollie next to me definitely makes it easier 🙂
– Ben
ACL Update – Week 17
Sent, 04-July-2017
I missed last week! I’m sorry everyone!

But I missed it for a positive reason; life is busy! In a good way!  Last week was my last week at work (two years really flew by…) And so now the focus is fully on recovery and moving… Which dovetail into each other really well, since moving involves a lot of walking and carrying.
Let’s start with last weekend:
Running and hiking were the names of the game; Sarah and I did a few low-key runs in Portland, and even did a nice hike on the Leif Erikson trail in Forest Park. Not as heavy as Dog Mountain, but it was a lot better, I think. Less strain, and more energetic.
This weekend was more focused on the move and climbing: Sarah and I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday alternating between climbing, and purging the house & redoing the kitchen.
First: climbing!!!! We hit the gym Sunday. Woo, fun, whatever. Then we climbed outside on Monday! OUTSIDE! MULTI-PITCH! We re-climbed Rooster Rock, the first climb Sarah and I did together outside, nearly two years ago. Since last week was Sarah’s birthday, an ascent of Rooster Rock was her request. And I am not one to deny Sarah her requested present.
So we climbed! And summited, and sunbathed, and then rappelled. And it felt really good!
My knee had been hurting more last week, but after a PT appointment and some stretches, it’s felt much better this week. Stronger, more flexible, and..
 Honestly, I don’t notice it all that often. Unless I stay off of it… Then, if I let it rest too much, it starts hurting more.  Ed (the therapist) says that’s fairly normal; just an effect of the weakness that I’m still recovering from.
So here goes! Full time PT, full time adventure!
Pictures are from our climb up Rooster Rock, plus one bonus picture from our fancy dinner date to celebrate Sarah’s birthday and my last day of work!

ACL recovery emails! Weeks 13, and 15! I skipped 14.

Continuing on the theme of compiling and writing out my emailed ACL recovery updates…
ACL Update – Week 13
Sent, 30-May-2017
I can jog!
Last week, I got cleared to not only jog, but start doing short jumps (forward, backward, and side to side.  No bouldering or jumping off buildings just yet).  So, on Saturday, Sarah and I went out into town and bought me my first ever pair of running shoes.  Then, on Sunday and Monday, we did jogging adventures!
Recovery is going really well, now.  My knee still hurts, and I definitely jog with a noticeable limp, but it’s getting better very quickly.  My legs are, unsurprisingly, almost constantly sore / tired… but that’s good.  The knee hasn’t slipped or been painful throughout the process, which is really what matters in the end.
Tomorrow I’ve got an appointment with Dr. Burgoyne here in Hood River… it’ll probably be more of the same, but we’ll see what he tells me.  I’m hoping it’ll be positive, and more of a “patching up loose ends” situation.
Happy Memorial Day to everyone!
– Ben
ACL Update – Week 15
Sent, 11-June-2017

Hi all!  I am tired!  Sarah is tired, and Ollie is (somehow) tired as well.  Why, you may ask?

Well, because Physical Therapy has kicked up another two notches.  The important two, even: rock climbing and hiking!
Yesterday was momentus, my first adventure to the climbing gym post-injury!  Sarah and I went late morning, while the gym was as empty as it could be.  The goal was to stretch out, remember what climbing is like, and make sure that I felt confident enough to keep trying it.  No pushing myself, just enough to warm up the climbing muscles.
And they got warmed up!  I only climbed routes rated 5.6, the lowest that the gym has.  And I had some trouble with them… but nothing that wasn’t expected.  Just remembering the movements, and reminding myself (or, more often, Sarah reminding me) to use both legs to climb, and to not favor my left leg.  After a few routes I was feeling good… but definitely tired.  My legs just aren’t really used to that much stepping up.  They’ll have to remember, though, because I’m not planning on slowing down much 🙂
Today was another major milestone; doing a hike called Dog Mountain.  It’s about 8 miles round trip… pretty good, on its own.  But that’s not including the elevation gain – nearly 3,000 ft over the entire hike.  But the reward up top (at this time of the year) is worth it: massive fields of wildflowers, as far as the eye can see.
The hike up was good; It was tiring, but not actually that bad, truth be told.  The challenge came up on the descent… we made it, but my knee was definitely tired.  Not much joint pain, though, which makes me pretty happy and confident.  It was mostly muscle pain, which just means that I need to hike more!  Woo hiking more!
So, long story short – recovery is going well.  Really well.  It’s a lot of work, and a lot of time spent jogging and jumping rope (ew, I hate jumprope) and doing silly crab walks with a resistant band up and down the deck.  But, it’s paying off.
Now, We’re off to bed.  Tomorrow is my rest day… two days on, one day off.  And I’m looking forward to doing nearly nothing, playing video games, and sitting at my computer at work.