Listen to your body! How many times have you heard that? How many times have I said it? But last month, even though my body was telling me to hold back, rest, etc., I pushed myself too hard and wound up with pneumonia! We were visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah and Colorado. Amazing scenery! Red, red, red everywhere, so different from the lush green Northwest at sea level where I live. I knew I would not come that way again soon, so in spite of having a cold, enduring heat above 90 degrees and elevations above 5000 feet, I pushed myself to go on and on. There is an area in Arches called the Fiery Furnace, a mass of fins, hoodoos, narrow canyons, scrambles–you can’t go into the area without a permit, because it’s so confusing. We had reservations to go in on a ranger-led hike. I was hot, probably feverish, and coughing a lot. I thought about not going on, but then, when would I come this way again? So I scrambled over rocks, navigated a passage with my feet on one wall of a narrow passage, my butt on the opposite wall, and every time we stopped for the whole group to come through, I coughed and coughed and coughed. I ate dozens of cough drops. At the end, when the ranger had us all lie down and look at the sky while she led a meditation on time, wind, water, erosion, I coughed all the way through. I had eaten up all my cough drops–finally someone in the group had an extra cough drop for me. At the end I apologized to the ranger for disturbing her mediation. Everyone assured me that I was an inspiration, a role model, etc., old lady obviously in distress.
When we came to Mesa Verde, I knew I couldn’t handle the 8000 feet elevation, so I stayed behind and rested. Probably too late. I continued on the trip, through Colorado, on to my high school reunion, feeling crummy. When I came home and saw my doctor, he said, “You have pneumonia!” I had to take it easy for three weeks, so far. I missed a glorious Indian summer hiking season in October and now the first snow has fallen in the mountains and I have to wait until next year to get back there.