Apparently You Need Both Feet To Move Forward

I will share with you a tale of woe and overcoming.

My husband and I are currently at mile marker 650ish.  It’s been raining for days, hopeful today will be the last of it.  While thunder rolls outside the window behind me, I conveniently have the first working computer I’ve seen on the trail here in Angel’s Rest living room.  About 20 hikers here have zero’s for their second day in a row.  As Tramily (trail family) makes breakfast in the kitchen whirling about me, let me tell you about a wonderful dreadful day.


When the last snowstorm rolled through, Matador (my husband) and I found ourselves in Grayson Highlands.  I made an unwise decision to remove my puffy (insulated jacket) from beneath my rain jacket at our midday break and I began to shiver and told Joel I would start ahead of him before he quit chatting with someone still bundled up in the shelter.  I sped away chasing after body heat and with my head tucked down a mile out, when I got lost off trail for approximately fifteen minutes before finding my way back.


Ponies outside Thomas Knob Shelter the night before

I proceeded to wait for Joel for twenty minutes.  He never came.  I went all the way back to the shelter to see what was wrong.  The covered up man still lying there said my husband left mere minutes after me.  Arrrgh.  I picked up my pace to catch my husband who now thinks I’m ahead of him even though I was at three miles behind now.  I come to the first clearing of the day on top of this mountain and can’t even see the other side because the visibility is so low due to side sweeping winds carrying the sleet and snow hitting my face.  Fast forward hours and miles later of me shouting and half running trying to catch up with Joel who was rushing ahead trying to catch up with me.  I come to a slight downhill at some point and I begin to run.

I see him through the trees ahead and start calling and yelling.  With a noisy hood on and music playing Joel hears only my voice and starts running forward thinking I’m ahead of him.  I get frantic and yell “Stop!” repeatedly.  He runs faster ahead thinking the worst.  At this point I can’t feel either of my frozen hands and want to curl up in a ball crying.  I keep running and he finally turns.

We meet and I after spewing my horrible last few hours on him, he comes back with the fact that he just hurt his ankle really bad in all that chaos.  I’m sitting on wet rocks trying to catch my breath.  As my stress level attempts to turn around, by the time we make it to the next road three miles later, Joel’s ankle is a grapefruit.  We take our first hitch into town and cue seven days resting in uncertainty of our future in Marion, VA.

Hotel in Marion, VA

Keep calm in all circumstances.

Lesson learned.  Even when your sleep deprived, hungry, freezing, and your husband doesn’t really know where you are in the middle of a blizzard on a mountain top.

A few towns later, a couple of ankle re-rolls later, more zeros later, we are now doing well.  Slack packing was offered to us for free and I’ve experienced what its like hiking weight free.  Tomorrow is the first day we’ll head north with full weight and Matador is icing his ankle next to me as I finishing typing this.  Everyone around us is zeroing because of the weather, we are glad for the extra hours of ankle recovery.


Bring on the trail.  We’re growing stronger everyday, learning lessons, and yielding to the adventure that finds us.

You can watch videos of our trail here:  Joel Wanders YouTube

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Comments 2

  • Walker Bob : May 29th

    Enjoyed reading a few of your posts. Thanks for sharing.


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