500 Miles: Feet. Food. Mixed Feelings.
2016 Flip Flop: SNP to ME/SNP to GA
“But I would walk 500 miles.”
-The Proclaimers (highly selected lyrics)
The rocks continue to be brutal, but I reached 500 miles this week, in spite of my left foot giving me problems. On a personal pain level ranging from one to ten, with ten representing 18 hours of unmedicated childbirth, that foot remained firmly planted in the three to four threshold. Of course, that was entirely dependent upon the level of hellish rocks at any particular point in time. Thanks to Google, I finally self-diagnosed the issue while at the Mohican Outdoor Center, a day after leaving Delaware Water Gap and navigating yet another day-long rocky obstacle course. BINGO! The symptoms appeared to point to Plantar Fasciitis. I learned that the risk factors include:
1) Age. Plantar fasciitis is most common between the ages of 40 and 60. (Check)
2) Sex. Women are more likely than are men to develop plantar fasciitis. (Check)
3) Certain Types of Activities/Repetitive Motion: Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running — can contribute to an earlier onset of plantar fasciitis. (Check, well, not running per se…)
The only thing I can do easily, at this point, is take more Vitamin I for the pain and inflammation and hope New Jersey provides a kinder and gentler path.
Wouldn’t you know it, the very next day I find myself camping with a sports medicine physician, who, sadly, confirms my Google diagnosis plus informs me that I have high arches. She recommends some stretches, icing whenever I can and increasing the Vitamin I dosage to reduce the inflammation, not just to manage pain. She agrees that Pennsylvania is to blame.
The Mohican Outdoor Center became not only a source of angst for the foot diagnosis discovery, but it is also memorable for my food resupply. Or more to the point, the lack thereof. They couldn’t find it. Ugh….Seriously? Again? I already had a food drop screw-up back in Fayetteville. A half hour later, the manager returned and brought me my shredded box containing one package of Via Fruit Fusion mix and my maps. The mail carrier had left two boxes at the bottom of the road outside of the center’s mailbox instead of delivering them to the office. Mine was one of the two destroyed by a bear that week.
Between the generosity of some sectional hikers finishing up their hike and another thru-hiker, I received enough food to get me to the next town a few days ahead. But honestly, I don’t know how thru-hikers resupply just using stores along the trail. I stood in the general store staring blankly at the limited choice of pasta sides and instant potatoes trying to come up with a few dinners that seemed halfway appealing. My carefully prepared food have been working out well for me. I don’t mind picking up mail drops. I spent as much time or more (and certainly more money) shopping from the trail. Now if only the USPS could be counted upon.
In between mail drops, the ice cream and beer tour continues whenever possible as I pass through or near towns. I also have experienced some trail magic where I’ve found myself eating two things I haven’t touched in decades. I ate a chocolate Poptart and drank a Pepsi. I’m also finding myself eating a whole lotta of pepperoni, which despite what the label says, doesn’t really require any refrigeration.
Over the last year, I’ve made more than a few virtual AT friends thanks to Facebook Groups. I followed them as they started out on their thru-hikes and even have been able to meet a few of them in person. Others were ahead of or behind me and I was fully expecting to cross paths at some point. But people have been getting off trail. Five hundred miles (or less) turned out to be the end of the trail for a handful of these virtual friends and five hundred miles turned into a psychological benchmark for me. Even during my difficult days, I have yet to consider quitting. But that’s just me being stubborn. And driven. And by golly, if I can help it, there is no way I’m going to let the rocks of Pennsylvania or New Jersey or New York end this trip.
“And I will walk 500 more. Da da lat da. Da da Lat da.”
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