Prior to his knee replacement surgery last year, Chris Stricker of Sun City considered himself a hardcore hiker. “I loved to get out and do 8 or 9 miles to decompress one to two times a week,” Stricker says.
But the specter of knee surgery had been haunting him for the last 10 years, ever since his physician told him that a degenerative condition would eventually get the better of him. When the pain began to quash his hiking agenda, he decided it was time to get it done. “With the knee pain along with complications of Parkinson’s disease, hiking just before surgery was almost impossible,” he says.
Because getting back on the trail was a priority for Stricker, he fully embraced his recovery program. “Initially, the pain was incredible as my knee got used to bending again and I built the strength back into the joint.”
A month after surgery, Stricker was ready to try out his new joint on a hike. “I hit the Desert Vista trailhead and hiked Hawk’s Nest, Dixie Mountain Loop, Valley Vista, Desert Tortoise and back to Hawk’s Nest. This trail was great, as there were no big steps up or down, but I had to be careful of my footing on the loose rocks.”
Despite lingering soreness and grueling thrice-weekly physical therapy sessions, Stricker is pleased with the results and offers tips for hikers thinking about surgery. “When it’s time to consider replacing a damaged joint, [do your] research,” Stricker advises. “For once, I listened to my doctor, my rehab specialist and, more importantly, my wife and took my time. My pace is a little slower, but I think I am better than I have been in several years.”
IF YOU GO
Dixie Mountain Loop
Phoenix Sonoran Preserve
LENGTH: 3 miles
ELEVATION: 1,600-2,001 feet
GETTING THERE: Desert Vista Trailhead, 1900 W. Desert Vista Dr., Phoenix. From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the Jomax exit. Go 0.2 miles on Jomax to Norterra Parkway, turn left (north) and continue 1.2 miles to North Valley Parkway. Turn right (south) and go 0.2 miles to Copperhead Trail. Turn left and go just a few yards to Melvern Trail. Turn left on Melvern and go 0.1 mile to Desert Vista Trail on the right.
INFO & MAPS: phoenix.gov/parks/trails
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