melissa i strong

rock climber, writer, photographer, working on life daily

Difficult Decisions; to return to Hueco or to stay at home--listening to injuries


To return to Hueco or to stay at home—not something I usually ask myself.  Life has presented me with some challenging decisions due to another shoulder injury.  On the positive side I don’t see surgery in my future but to continue to climb especially on steep physical terrain like Hueco would only make the injury worse.  This was not the plan but for once I am trying to be smart about an injury and listen to my body—with my right shoulder I stubbornly tried to push my way through prolonging the recovery over years.


November in Hueco was great, dreamy in fact. We were having fun.  I felt strong.  Adam’s elbows were not hurting for the first time in three years.   Good friends, good times, Hueco in the off season, we got cool temps and not so busy.  The one unwelcoming aspect was my shoulder seemed to be failing and getting exceedingly crunchy daily.  I was definitely concerned, laid off it especially when I felt fatigued.  Figured it was ok to baby it a bit, give it a rest when we came home for our planned working holiday.  Home was a wonderful respite.  I love Hueco but I adore being at home and it was a great winter break, cold, snowy and we got a Christmas tree!  Getting shifts managing was helpful as well recovery.  I decided to go to a physical therapist, chiropractor and doctor all in one and see if I cold get my shoulder better quick to return to Hueco.


Quick was not part of the deal.   Dr. Neff from Truebility in Boulder was able to locate and break up scar tissue and it has been a roller coaster ride since. Each week brings hope and pain and weakness and hope.  I made an MRI appointment but just canceled it because I believe it is partial tear and on the mend!  Dr. Neff's work has help speed up the process and the correct decision was made—to stay here and have treatments that is.  I have been able to climb a few times a week on our garage wall and feel like I am safely maintaining strength while healing.


I couldn’t hold Mr. Strong back!  He has fought a three year battle with medial epicondylitis.  He is off to Hueco for a bit while I hope to mend myself before Switzerland.   Here’s keeping my fingers crossed and hoping Hueco will still be there next year (this is a bit of foreshadowing about the next blog which will probably be about the current access issues at Hueco Tanks)!


I am trying to make the best of being at home (Estes Park, CO) in the winter, working, playing and visiting with friends that summers busy months usually doesn’t afford time for.  I have been to the top of two popular mountains that I am ashamed to say I have never stood on the summit before Twin Sisters and Estes Cone.  With being so dedicated to bouldering I spend my days off going to the same canyon, Chaos Canyon, to climb.  Since I am here and not spending my days off hiking to climb I can hike for the sake of seeing beautiful destinations all in my back yard!


Despite making the best of it and healing I am sad I am not in Hueco.  In addition to missing the beauty of Hueco and the climbing I was hoping to represent Wagon Wheel Co-opt at the first of a series of meetings with the El Paso Senator and TPWD to assess Hueco’s 2000 Public Use Plan.  I am working on our paperwork and Adam will represent with me on facetime—listening quietly of course.  Also I was on the path to being a rock art guide (which I will complete as soon as I get back there) and would have loved to finish the process off.


My time here is bitter sweet surrounded by beauty and remarkable people but missing my love and Hueco.  And keeping my eye on the prize, 7 weeks in Switzerland in a month from now!



Natale on Wheaties


Left Nate on Crown of Argaon

Clayton Reagen on Problematics


Left Ana B on Problematics

Wooden Mushroom

Hueco Tanks Rock Art

Adam Strong, The Rhino

Ana B. Crash Dummy

Crash Dummy

Adam on The Rhino

Moses Potter, The Rhino

Adam and Sammy D!

Mill's Lake RMNP

Long's Peak, -12 heading to work that day

waiting to climb

Dunraven New Year's Party

The all familiar view from our deck

View from Estes Cone

View from the Twin Sisters

Snow angels by Cassidy

From the top of Twin Sisters -- panorama makes the mountains look a lot further away.

From the top of Estes Cone

Another from the top of Estes Cone