I am someone with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), so I am always assessing my activities to best stay moving, but doing so safely with my joint issues in mind. This ends up more an alternate-RA-activity-or-expanding- my-activity-options sort of deal. I first think it through to reason the safety of the activity and then I give it a try. My snowshoeing expedition was a perfect example.
Skiing has been a family activity since our son was in grade school. He is now a grown man! It is something we can all share no matter what each of our skill levels are. The whole idea was to enjoy it together. Well, my skill level never really progressed. I am far more interested in the scenery than speed and technique. That doesn’t matter. It is all about doing it together. My RA diagnosis has complicated my desire to ski, especially places I’m not familiar with.
When we planned a trip to Big Sky, Montana, I decided not to ski, but I thought snowshoeing would be a reasonable alternative. Walking on snow sounded safer than skiing those big mountains! I did my due diligence and scoped out a group of newbie snowshoers guided by a professional in these matters. I then spoke with the representative from the company guiding the snowshoe hike to make sure I was clear on what it all entailed. At that point I was good to go. It sounded like a lot of fun and great exercise!
I decided I could enjoy the beauty and wonderful snow by snowshoeing while the rest skied. I could still be engaged in the wintertime activities, but in a way respecting my RA situation.
With nine people in the group we took a chairlift up to 8800 feet. We then hiked into the woods. The base was between 5 to 7 feet, so the trees we saw were actually the treetops! It was snowing big fluffy flakes and off the trail looked like a sparkly pillow. That was a good thing because it didn’t take long before I took my first fall. Snowshoeing gave me just the perfect amount of challenge. I had to use my cleats and use a little strategy where to step. We hiked some already created trails, some roads, and then the guide took us through woods that we created our own trail. At that point we were hiking through at least one foot of fluffy snow. We ended up hiking over 3 hours. I had hand and foot warmers in my gloves and boots and that kept me warm. We all fell multiple times, so we looked like snowmen at the end of the trail. It was at the very end of the hike that I was getting wet, so the end came at the right time!
I’m thinking I have a new option for activity to keep me moving. I will not rule out skiing again. When we got off the chairlift I looked at the ski trails and believe I would’ve done just fine on them. Big Sky actually has a good number of easy trails. My RA has expanded my activity options. I’m trying things I probably wouldn’t have without my joint considerations. I’m calling that a win!
I work hard at making my RA have the smallest footprint on my day-to-day life. In reality though, I am constantly making choices and decisions to best manage the disease. It is a bit second nature, therefore my RA really isn’t so in-my-face. It is just the way it is. And that is not a bad thing.
Arthritis Wisdom would love to hear some of your alternate activities to accommodate RA. We can learn so much from each other. And that is a very good thing!
Take good care. XXOO Cathy