Risk vs. Reward: Contemplating Our Adventurous Life After Two Serious Injuries
Story and Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Laura Patton
Titan and Star both ran out of the shelter and into a life of adventure. Titan went on his first camping and climbing trip at four months and Star’s first ‘home’ was my Honda CRV, which we lived out of as we traveled and climbed all over the West. Since their adoption we’ve filled our time with as much outdoor play time as possible – we’ve backpacked, bike toured, climbed, skied, mountain biked, paddled, and hiked our way through 39 states and 8 Canadian Provinces and Territories.
As Titan and Star aged, they only seemed to get stronger and more fit. As we introduced long distance backpacking at age 6, and more high-intensity activities like ski touring at 7 and downhill mountain biking at 8, they just kept getting happier, healthier, and more energetic. I was convinced that our lifestyle was going to keep them young and spry well into their golden years. But then, early last year, Star tore her ACL while zooming around in the snow before a ski tour and subsequently was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has prevented surgery. And nine months later Titan suffered a devastating injury – also while skiing – that will require a full fusion of his left forelimb and will effectively end his ski and mountain bike career.
As our non-stop activity came to a grinding halt, I was left wondering if I had let them down. Had I pushed too far? Done things that were too dangerous? Taken too many risks? Surely a sedate life spent on our comfy bed in the back of the van would have prevented these injuries.
Almost as soon as I began doubting myself, however, I started to remember why we do what we do. I thought of the 14 days we spent hiking 175 miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail. The dogs would curl up beside me in the tent each night, sigh contentedly, and wake up in the morning hopping around eagerly as they waited for their backpacks to be put on. I thought of their tongues lolling as they trotted with my bike on the Denali Highway, each day wanting to run more than the day before. I thought of how they bolt up and down the trail as I mountain bike, flying around corners and enjoying the flow of the singletrack. And I thought of the way their eyes brighten whenever I grab my skis, they way they roll and dive in the snow on the skin track and the exuberance in their bounds as they run back down the mountain.
Does our lifestyle come with risks? Certainly. But to me, it seems that the rewards of our time spent together outside outweigh those risks. To not adventure in the mountains with Titan and Star would be a disservice to their intrepid spirits. To not seek time in the wild would be to deny them happiness. My relationships with Star and Titan have formed and been strengthened during our escapades. So now, we are getting the best medical care we can and we hope to be back in action as soon as possible. We’ll continue to explore and play, at whatever pace Star and Titan choose, for the rest of our days.