Between the Flip & the Flop: ER Visits and the Cost of the Trail

Emergency Room visits!

I am lucky enough to know someone in Maine who was able to pick me up from Baxter State Park. Remember how I mentioned that I noticed a swelling, hot, and painful feeling in my cheek in one of my last posts?

It doesn’t look bad here but that red bump on my cheek HURT and was HOT

Well by this point, I was convinced it was an infection. So instead of heading home, I was taken straight to the ER from Katahdin.

The doctor in the ER diagnosed it as an abscess which needed to be cut opened and drained. 

The now hole-in-my-cheek was then stuffed with a packing and bandaged.

Two days later I returned for the packing to be removed, and given the instructions to keep the wound clean and dry and covered

Post-Katahdin Adventures

I then proceeded to hang out in Maine for 4 days letting my face heal. My family friend took me down to her sister’s house in Bay Harbor, from where we could explore Acadia (I had been told it was an absolutely beautiful National Park). We spent some time hiking and biking and we drove around a scenic road, but unfortunately the weather while we were there was less than ideal (a storm was coming in), so I did not get the views I was hoping for. I still had a great time though (evenings were spent playing cribbage, having ping-pong tournaments, trying my very first lobster rolls, and eating ice cream). 

Eventually the time came for me to begin my journey back to Harpers Ferry, where I would begin the second half of my hike.

How to get from Maine to Harper Ferry

The easiest way I found was to catch a bus out of Bangor, ME (you can get a shuttle from Millinocket to Bangor) to Boston, then take a train from Boston to Washington DC, then a train from Washington DC to Harper’s Ferry.

I ran into Geisha Girl on the trail from DC to HF

Washington DC

Instead of going straight to Harpers Ferry, I stayed a few extra days in Washington DC, visiting friends and letting my cheek heal some more (trying to lessen the odds of reinfection upon return to the trail).

Comically, even though I stayed in DC to try and stay healthy, while I was there I was stung by a bee on my finger (I am allergic so I had to immediately run to the store for antihistamines)

and then the friends whom I was staying with tested positive for Strep, so I had to go to the doctors again to get tested (luckily, I tested negative).

Costs of the Appalachian Trail After my 1st half

For fun, I decided to start calculating how much the trail has cost me thus far, and while these are calculations I made on the back of scratch paper in a public library (and this, there is definitely human error in them and I rounded them to the closest $5), it is still eye opening.

  • Cost groceries/resupply thus far: $1,560
  • Gear costs for repair/new items while on trail: $920
  • Gear purchased before leaving for the trail: $1,905
  • Cost of mailing items: $125
  • Lodging costs: $145
  • Transportation Costs (primary expense thus far is the cost of getting myself to the trail from CA, and getting from ME back to Harpers Ferry): $650

As you can see, the primary costs on the trail for me so far have been gear, food, and travel. I have tried saving money by avoiding hotels/hostels as much as possible and staying with Trail angels, doing work-for-stay, or simply camping on trail, but things still can really add up!

As a result, I came up with some ways to raise money, which I posted on my personal website and sent out to family and friends. So far, the one which has proved most popular is for any donation of $10 or more someone may pose a “challenge” for me to do while on the trail, which I then video tape and post on my personal website or on my AT Instagram for the world to see.

    It has proved quite fun so far, I’ve only had the chance to do a couple, but some of the ones I have completed already have included me dancing on the trail or doing handstands on McAfee Knob. For me, not only has this helped me with the costs of the trail, but as I am ahead of the SOBO bubble and thus the trail is relatively lonely, it is a way that I am able to spice up my days. I’m excited to see what challenges people come up with so, feel free to check out the videos if you want some entertainment!

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    Comments 11

    • Anna Daniels : Sep 6th

      Dakota, so relieved to read that your ER visits were short & efficacious!
      Thank you for taking me with you on your great adventure!

      • Dakota : Sep 6th

        Glad to know you are enjoying reading about my adventures! And yes! I am lucky. Many on the trail have much worse health scares… if these are the worst things I go through then I’ll take it

    • John Carpenter : Sep 7th

      Thank you so much for the realistic info on costs so far and for the travel methods of getting from Maine to Harpers Ferry – very helpful!

      • Dakota Churchill : Sep 19th

        Of course, I’ll post another when I finish to give an update on the cost of the second half. I’m not sure if it will be more expensive or less. On one hand, the south is supposed to be cheaper, but on the other hand, I expect I’ll go through more towns = more temptation to spend money

    • Gabriele : Sep 7th

      I been following your adventures which I enjoy alot I feel like I am with you on your journey. I have never been that brave to do all this on my own. Stay safe out there.

      • Dakota Churchill : Sep 19th

        Thank you so much! I’ll do my best 🙂

    • Phil : Sep 9th

      Dakota I love your posts and following along.

      This post hit home for me because I’m like the boil king I’ve had so many painful abscesses. They are nasty and take so much energy to heal but

      You are enduring beautifully!

      Peace sister!

      • Dakota Churchill : Sep 19th

        It is great to hear I am not alone with this! They suck! but its good to normalize these things 🙂

    • Jo Anne Reinhard : Sep 10th

      Glad the abscess wasn’t worse, it looks like it really hurt. Hope the rest of your adventure goes smoother!

      • Dakota Churchill : Sep 19th

        Thank you so much! I will say that I’ve been stung by bees 5x now!!! But that is for an upcoming post…


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