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Archive for My Dive Adventures

Plantaris muscle: Gone in 60 seconds! (Not my leg. Less hair on my leg; Plenty o' hurt.)

Of course, you might not even have one.

Between 7 and 20% of medically dissected cadavers don’t.

You’re not dead yet, so you probably only know if you have this vestigial calf muscle if you ruptured it playing hard…
….as I did, December 16, 2009.

Muscling 140 pounds of diving gear out of the sea, I pushed hard against sand and swirling water and felt a whomping !POP! on my right calf.  It felt like a tennis ball had hit it.  Then came a fascinating sensation as the now free tendon slithered downwards from my knee to my ankle, right before the next step brought a wave of pain.

Ok, this couldn’t be good.

Home to ice, compression, elevation and single malt scotch while I convinced my brain to take the night off.  I’d worry about it tomorrow.

December 17th I could barely walk, but even my hobbling was enough for a physician teammate to diagnose it between my car and the hospital door: “You trashed a vestigial calf muscle.   Common in middle-aged athletes who play hard.  The tendon just gets old and gives up. I did it myself when I was 47 playing tennis. You don’t need it. You’ll heal just fine.  See ya!

10 minutes later I had the reference from PubMed: “The plantaris muscle: anatomy, injury, imaging and treatment.”  Spina, A.A., Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association, 2007.

Treatment: Rest 1 to 3 days.  Ice, compress, elevate.  (No mention of single malt scotch. They’re missing it!) Resume activity when pain subsides and rehab as needed for specific sports.

And that’s exactly what happened.  I hobbled and Igor-walked for a couple of weeks, and dived plenty as that didn’t irritate it.  I appreciated my dearest buddy who loaded my gear on the boat for a great weekend of diving.

I knocked off the gym until I could walk without pain, 30 days later.

The first week of running and lifting reanimated some of the pain in my right calf, but it was manageable.

By the second week back in the gym, I didn’t even think about it anymore.

Healing is a wonderful thing.

And then…yesterday…. I shuffled my weight routine as I do every few weeks.
Dumbbell single-leg Romanian Deadlifts“?
Sure!  No problem.

Down…up…down…up… 3 sets of 6 reps, I was feeling good.

[Tick, tick, tick... a night passes.....]

Today?  I could barely walk.
With each step forward the right hamstring HURT!!

Seems my right hamstring muscles are missing their little friend, the plantaris muscle, 8 weeks after the little striated slacker gave up the ghost.  Ow!!

My left leg and hamstring are fine and dandy. I know where THAT plantaris is… still.
But the right hamstring, now lifting with just the remaining gastrocnemius and soleus calf muscles, is howling mad and has been telling me about it all day in excruciating detail.

It wins. It gets the night off. Back to the gym in a couple of days.

I love healing.   Isn’t it over yet?


I’d arrived in Monterey right after Christmas, 6 hours north of home, eager to dive back into this remarkable underwater world.  December weather was rolling westward across the Pacific and swell predictions were rising.

Arriving at the Cannery Point cliff top to view conditions, Doc Wong was capturing video of explosive white water at the exposed rocks.

“Wow!!! Did you guys see THAT? That was enormous!!!!”

And these guys are OK with this?

Fortunately the sets were only 5 feet, the cove was mostly protected, and the deeper water beyond the rocks truly was blueish.  As long as we weren’t on the surface outside of Whaler’s Cove, we should be fine.

The Cove had significant surge, but we could pick the lulls and manage the boat ramp  slip&slide out to Doc’s buoy with all the scooters and extra bottles.

OK, Time to dive!

I was joining Doc and Warren L for a few days of MoCal diving.

Our small world got even more fun as 2/3 of Team Bunny rolled in. Steve and Kenn were all smiles… and all “Oh man, you should been here last weekend….it was gorgeous”. By now the sun was shining as a steady stream of sightseers were enjoying  the sleeping sea otters, herons, and harbor seals right next to the rocky shore. This place oozes beauty!

Click-Click-Whiiiir-Scooter time!

Dive #1: To MonoLobo Wall!
90 feet  max depth, 52 feet avg depth, 1hr 45min, 11.5C (drysuits Rule!), visibility was 20-25 feet once we got out of the shallows of Whaler’s Cove.
Doc led a happy run over to Granite Point Wall, and then around the corner into the Granite Point pinnacles.

This is only the second time I’ve been ‘Round the Bend’ in this direction, and it’s just silly with pinnacles, and crazy with crevices that demand to be scootered through at full-speed. The rock walls are home to dozens of nudibranchs to be examined quickly before we swing towards the next destination.

This area was pretty well protected from the swell, but the surge was a thrill ride on the big sets. The crevices accelerate the water velocity anyway, and then Doc powered his mighty Gavin scooter up and over a stone saddle at exactly the right time, catching a jet-thrust that shot him forward like he was on wires in a martial arts movie!!! It was just alarming to see my buddy ripping away into the misty distance, especially as I was right behind him and sure I would make it over too.

Not so much.

My zippy Sierra scooter clawed the water for a moment and then I got hauled backwards so fast it felt like horizontal bungie jumping! I’ve never seen a rock wall pass by so fast.. backwards!  Warren was watching and called it at least a 20 foot back surge and was wondering which rock I was about to make a chica-sized hole in. We had several more fun and fast luge runs but nothing again like THAT one. Doc said he was laughing all the way… and then hoping he’d be able to turn around and still have buddies! We were hot on his tail in a few moments.

We crossed the next sand channel (Moss cove) and entered more mini-rock canyons.

We arrived at a stunning vertical wall of rock.. with more nudibranchs of course!…. and a noticeable increase in turbulence in the water. Doc called this a great place to turn around and repeat the fun on the homeward leg.

Wrapping around Granite Point Wall, I did a double take as I saw two HID lights to my left when I knew both buddies were to my right!
It’s a darned big cove but there was Team Bunny, Steve and Kenn all smiles and lovely balanced hovering against the huge rock face.

A monstah Sheephead fish roamed around us on the return across middle reef, but I only had eyes for the tennis ball sized Odhner’s dorids I found mating on a pink-encrusted boulder. Beautiful, looking like pure white sea lemon nudibranchs with a huge gill-ring of egret feathers stuck on its rear end. Nudibranchs are just hilarious.. I love them more every day.

Viz went to nuthin’ as we approached the boat ramp, until we surfaced to a brilliant day in the cove. A mother sea otter was grooming a baby held on her stomach just 40 feet away from us, and then they swam right over to Warren and looked at him before they zipped underwater and away.

Dive #2: Betos to Sisters to Short Cut Reef.
115 feet max depth, 61 feet avg depth, 1 hour 27 minutes, 11.5C, vis was a mysterious 30 feet most of the dive, but it kept getting better as we got deeper.
The swell was letting up and I’d rewarmed enough to enjoy another dive.

The cool thing about this dive was getting under the turbulence to enjoy the majestic beauty of these deeper structures. I don’t tech dive, so Short Cut Reef is the outside edge of my play envelope here at Lobos. Doc and Warren were great buddies and generous in foregoing the deeper waters so I could play along.

I’ve dived this section of Point Lobos before, but with clearer water when I could see the HUGE rocks like the Third Sister coming from a long way off. As we approached they slowly became the size of skyscrapers.

With today’s limited viz, the huge structures visually exploded into my field of view, already monstrously gigantic. I felt like a ping pong ball bouncing into the Sears Tower.

Look, misty blue water…

Towering Bunch o’ Massive Rock!!!

It was fun and beautiful.
Thousands of nudibranchs.
Acres of small purple and pink hydrocoral, like icicles growing on ridges and spines, with small elephant ear sponges glowing in the distance.

We returned up the sand channel and climbed the boat ramp under a silver half moon in a twilight blue sky. We finished packing the gear in near darkness.

I love this place.

It was great to dive with Warren who flew in on vacation from the Canadian hinterlands and gave us a date for diving Monterey.
We were both appreciative of  Doc Wong for cheerfully leading the way and enjoying every moment of these dives in his own back yard.

All this and I had two more days of diving to look forward to.


P.S. 3 hours and 12 minutes of diving on one DeepSeaSupply Super Sierra Li-Ion battery charge. This is so glorious.

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