Saturday didn’t begin well. I had a appointment with the physio at 08.00, the only slot available. The insurance company were still ‘reviewing’ my case (translation: still trying to find a way of wriggling out of paying for my treatment) so I had to pay the bill myself out of my dwindling bank account. My knee was more swollen and very sore. And I had to walk to the physio into the teeth of a bitingly cold wind and driving snow.
Unsurprisingly the physio said definitely no more skiing. So at least that removed any uncertainty. Or, to put it another way, removed any faint hope I still harboured. Was I hacked off? Yes. Glum?? Yes.
But knowing that everything is for a purpose, no matter how obscure, or, as I said at the outset of my Greek trip, knowing that “a man’s mind plans his way but God directs his steps” I determined to do something positive about it. Look for some worthwhile outcome.
After the physio, shopping and breakfast, in that order, I took my camera for another walk around the town and headed for ‘Central Park’. Bit of a misnomer that, the park being anything but central. Quite peripheral in fact. Despite the seemingly inappropriate name it’s a great place. Public works of art. Band stand, or gazebo as it is labelled. Rocky Mountain backdrop. Next to the frozen Bow River. Covered in fresh snow. A guy was going around an oval shaped track on the frozen river with what seemed like a modified lawnmower clearing the snow for ice-skating. Several people were skating on it including one girl being pulled along on her skates by a small dog.
In the biting wind my hands got very cold and I was hungry so I went back to the apartment, warmed up, had lunch and made a radical decision. I was going to walk back up to ‘Surprise Corner’, drop down the ‘trail’ to the Bow River Falls and suss out the start of the Hoodoos Trail. Not quite what I think the physio had in mind but I was now determined to make the last few days here count for something and not just mope around the apartment and the shops. If I couldn’t ski without further risk of longer term damage to my knee I would at least look at the place from a different perspective.
The views on the walk above the river on the way up to Surprise Corner was again different. The river is not frozen across in this section because of the speed of flow of the rapids and the shapes it creates in the ice are fascinating constantly changing as the temperature rises and falls and as the ice moves, forms and reforms. The same is true of the colours and patterns in dead trees. I was in no hurry so I dawdled with the camera. I find that there are often more attractive shapes and patterns in nature than in art galleries.
It was a steep, slippery scramble down to the river level by the Bow Falls and I was hesitant because of my knee. I was OK sliding down right foot first but couldn’t risk going down leftward because of the weakened ligament. So I didn’t go around the edge of the crag to the falls themselves. Instead I turned downriver and linked up with the Hoodoos Trail. By now the sky had turned grey and it was snowing very fine, light snow again.
It was a type of landscape I hadn’t experienced before: The broad frozen expanse of the Bow River below the falls, high, the frozen peak of Rundle Mountain against the grey sky, forest of Lodgepole Pine, Dougals Fir and the occasional Aspen. Strange animal tracks through the snow-covered forest floor.
At one point I left the trail to go to the river’s edge and came across a very random piece of funky art. No explanation. Just there, barely a foot from the river so I had to lean back on a tree to take a photo.
By now it was 15.00 and a trail-side sign showed I had covered about a third of its length. My knee was playing up. It would be getting dark in an hour or so. The last section had been particularly slippery as the trail rose up and then dropped down a craggy outcrop. Simple, instant clarity. I was only on a reconnaissance, the light was not very good for photos. Two clear decisions, time to turn back, and time to spend the money I had saved on not paying bus fares to the ski hill on a pair of cleats to better equip my wonky knee for a properly planned walk on Monday when it was forecast to be sunny.