I talked to a local gal walking her bike across a bridge on the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail and she was nice enough to use my camera to take a picture.
I talked to a local gal walking her bike across a bridge on the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail and she was nice enough to use my camera to take a picture.
Keeping a positive attitude - or at least trying to - is at the center of attempting to recover from a major setback in life.

In my case, the setback was a major fall one year ago off a bridge onto rocks and a small amount of water below, followed by a stroke while in the hospital.

After I made it through the tough and painful first steps of rehabilitation - literal, physical steps - I tried to look ahead to further goals in doing what I love best, which is getting outdoors. Therapists helped me, but a large measure fell onto me helping myself.

I have a goal of not only walking without gait aids, but to get back to hiking on natural terrain trails. I'll certainly welcome trekking poles in that pursuit, which I've used for years and years anyway for added support and stability.

But I need to gain strength, which my current lovely, but necessarily slow walks can't quite accomplish.

Let me tell you a secret. Through the long days of winter a dream of biking the area's recreational trails kept me going. I have a 15-year-old mountain bike, complete with front shocks I had added to it. I used to like riding natural terrain trails. I'd test my skills handling the bike around and over rough, bumpy terrain, although nothing too hairy.

Realizing my balance is still off with my stroke-affected left side, my mind pedaled on over to the idea of a recumbent trike. Three wheels - plus a seat you sit back in kind of like a recliner - would provide the needed stability for my messed-up balance.

Looking at the winter white outside my window in March and April, I'd shut my eyes and see myself in colorful cycling clothes pedaling along a soothing stream lined with lush green trees, abundant foliage and blooming flowers.

I took care of the clothes part of the dream. And recently, I've been lucky to take a TerraTrike recumbent out on the trails. It has a special left pedal with straps to keep my sometimes-spastic left foot secure.

Wow! I can't tell you what a positive change this has had on me - but I'll try.

I feel myself getting stronger. I've been riding an average of around 10 miles a crack. And if you know me at all, you know that although I'm not super fast, my pace is constant and certainly not super slow.

With my left foot secure, I'm able to work on range of motion, as well as having it work in coordination with the right foot. Also, my left hand gets good practice gripping the lower handlebars. It used to fly off my walker of its own volition and required a special grip.

An attached basket allows me to bring items along on my rides. You can bet the camera and monopod go. I'm still an avid photographer and enjoy the process of capturing nature and all that makes this area so unique and beautiful. Handling the camera is yet another good exercise.

I'm still not quick enough in my current state to get stopped to take a deer photo before it runs away. But I will continue to make a slow approach, speaking softly to see how close I can get. I also look for other wildlife and, of course, turkey vultures above, while riding the area trails.

Since I'm not driving currently, the recumbent trike gives a much-needed dose of freedom to go where I want, within trail limitations, all on my own without requiring a ride from someone. I'm thankful for rides, but, boy, the freedom sure feels good. It's a taste of my former life.

The attitude adjustment delivered by the TerraTrike is a welcome boost during this rehabilitation and recovery process.

Oh, let's go back to the exercise aspect of the TerraTrike for one more point. If I didn't get out for this good workout - akin to the physical activity my body has been used to over the years, what with tromping around with a heavy backpack for miles upon miles or hiking a steep, tall mountain - I might just sit around and that's depressing. Weight gain wouldn't be good. Plus, I certainly want to keep moving so as to better my odds for not having another stroke.

Getting out in nature is essential to my very core. Tie it in with exercise, freedom and the ensuing endorphins - and photos, thoughts and narratives of the jaunts shared here - it's surely "win, win," win with you, the reader, included in the equation.

Look for more tales from the trails in the future.

Lisa Brainard can be reached at: lbrainard@bluffcountrynews.com