Once in a lifetime

I can truly call walking on a glacier a once in a lifetime experience. It was the most physically difficult thing I have ever done in my life. On the plus side, I cannot believe I did not die. We did the Big Ice Tour with Hielo y Aventura.

Big Ice was extremely demanding and I was clearly the weakest link on our tour. We had to hike nearly vertical on rocky terrain and soil with no guard rails and straight down drops with rocks and tree limbs and random cows (yes, really) just to get to the tip of the glacier. We didn’t even have crampons or harnesses on yet.

To say I was completely out of breath and seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack is probably an understatement. At this point I was nearly in tears while some girls in our group were talking about needing a cigarette – are you kidding me??

We were the only Americans in our group and I think I myself proved that Americans are out of shape. At the very end of the trek, where I was in really bad shape – note the knee brace – we were passed by the second group AND the guides who had stayed behind to clean up the area with the crampons and harnesses.

And because I probably wasnt hiking right, my right knee was twisted or sprained or something. It hurt something horribly. My right ankle did too but the knee is so much worse that I wasn’t worried about the ankle.

Throughout the day, I wouldn’t let anyone tell me the time. I didn’t want to know how many hours of suffering were remaining and that was mostly before the knee pain.

Hiking on a glacier was definitely once in a lifetime because I will never ever ever ever ever do it again. ever. With that said, it was truly an amazing experience, and now that it is over, I am happy I did it. It is an absolutely incredible sight.If I ever go to Alaska, I will be taking a helicopter tour of glaciers because I will never walk on one again.

Needed to find a brace for my knee and cerveza for my pain. I found both.

Getting cerveza not so much a funny story. Getting the brace is.

Needed to go into a drugstore for a brace. The staff at our B&B told me the word for knee in Spanish, which helped me a bit since my alternative was tengo dolor de mi (I have pain in my) and then pointing to my knee. The word for knee is rodillero, and not one I will soon forget.

In my Spanish, I was able to let the pharmacist know what was wrong. It took a few minutes to realize that no one knew a word of English in the store.  So it took a few more minutes to realize they were sending me into the back room to try on the brace. Even longer to realize that I couldn’t just lift my pants. They were actually (all females) telling me to take off my pants and put the brace on so they could check that it fit.

I was in so much pain but the hilarity of the situation was not lost on me that I was standing in the back room of a pharmacy in my underwear letting a few women who spoke no English check to see that the knee brace fit correctly. After trying on two different braces, as the first was too tight, I limped away with a suitable brace.

We didn’t get a photo with the brace on but here it is pulled from a video shot. It’s quite a monster of a brace.

This brace came in handy for horseback riding later that day. And since I had never been on a horse before I also didn’t really think about how you get on a horse. Thankfully  it was the bum leg that had to swing over the horse, and not the leg that you had to put all the weight on in order to get that leg to swing around.

And if I ever need surgery or physical therapy to repair my knee or ankle, at least I have a good story.

Update: I did require physical therapy to strengthen both of my knees and my left achilles.


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