Day 14: The Mental Struggle and Injuries

Good Morning

I woke up finally feeling like I slept in. I knew there were others already up and about, but I was determined to stay snuggled in my loaner fleece onesie and fluffy blanket. I figured I must have slept at least past 8:30. It was 7:45. Oh well. I was slow to get up and it was great not feeling rushed. Camping in the woods for days on end tends to come with the feeling of needing to get miles in and maximize the availability of sunlight. It’s definitely not the way I want to continue. 

Library Trip

By 9:00, it was just Hay Baby Mamma and me. Hay Baby Mamma got injured a few days prior, so she has been helping clean around the house in exchange for a bed. She got a rental car and offered me a ride to the nearby bagel shop for breakfast and then the library. I was very thankful.

Despite needing access to a computer for a few hours, I had to sign up for a library card. I only had an hour session to post several days of blogs. Luckily, five minutes before it was supposed to end, the computer asked if I wanted to extend my session by fifteen minutes. I clicked ‘accept’ nine times.

I contacted Newfound and she helped me out by picking me up. I really can’t recommend The Grove Hostel enough. Newfound and Unfiltered are so down to Earth and understand thru-hikers since they’ve done the AT before.

Urgent Care

Once arriving at the hostel, I ran into Clan Topos. I had no idea they were staying there. Unfortunately, Steve had his ankle wrapped up and I was told that he was headed to urgent care to get an x-ray.

Back to Town

Anybody else into spicy fantasy?

I headed back into town because my sister was jealous of the stickers I had gotten and I was planning on eating lunch at the restaurant I ate at twice yesterday. It was that good. I went to a kitchen shop because I’m a sucker for good kitchen items and actually found a nice, lightweight scrub that I could use for my pot. Afterwards, I got the stickers and decided to go to Outdoor 76 to once again look at their dry bags. I didn’t get anything, but I do enjoy just looking at gear. It was there that I realized Jack, Nick, and Aaron were staying at the same place I was. It was kind of cool that all the people I’ve hiked with thus far were staying at the same place.

At the store, I approached Rob, a man who seems well known in the AT hiking community, to ask if hiking in Chacos won’t mess up my joints. The short answer is ‘it won’t’. The long answer is that thru-hikers are professional athletes in their pre-season and we need to respect that process – a.k.a. go slow. He asked how many miles I do and I said that my longest day was less than 14. He immediately said that that was too much.

I left the store extremely disheartened. I was close to tears. I headed to Gracious Plates on Main to eat a good sandwich, but was told that I was a few minutes too late. I almost sobbed. Keep it together. Crying in public attracts too much attention

Sob Session #1 and Injuries

Defeated, I walked the half a mile back to the hostel. Tears were streaming down my face. I called my sister and just sobbed. I could barely get words out. I stood on the road by the driveway of The Grove Hostel. I must have looked pretty pathetic because one of the neighbors pulled over and asked if everything was okay. I turned, eyes and face red, and choked out, “I’m good, just crying.” “…okay.” “Thank you though.” And she drove off. 

I headed inside and decided that it was time to address storage within my food bag. All my snacks are in a specific ziploc bag now. I also grabbed all the stickers I’ve gathered thus far and other small odds and ends and put it in an envelope to ship home.

As a group of us waited for a shuttle to Walmart or Ingles, Unfiltered comes in, holding the door for a booted and crutched Steve. “Shit. Did you get the results of the x-ray?” I asked, concerned. “I did. I have two fractures in my foot. My hike is done.” That really set the mood. He looked close to tears.

Steve posing with his boot and crutches.

With Steve, he twisted and landed on his ankle poorly. So much so that surgery may be required. I can think of a few instances where my ankle has given way and I briefly think, man, that was a close one. I was lucky it wasn’t serious. Steve can’t say the same. Anything can end a hike. Anything. 


With the mood somber, a group of us headed to Walmart to get a resupply. I grabbed a bag of salad for dinner, some cheese, more ashwagandha pills, a knee brace, and an impulsive purchase of canned bean dip and Fritos. Gross, I know.

I sat outside of Walmart and chowed down on that can of bean dip. People were starring. I don’t care. I’ll be gone from Franklin soon and those that do know me could relate. Aaron sat down next to me and started scarfing down on a two pound box of strawberries. It was a thing.

Newfound picked us up and very quickly dropped eveyone off but me at a Chinese buffet. I planned on eating salad, but the bean dip was filling enough. Once at the hostel, I spent the rest of the time putting my pack together. 

Sob Session #2

With most people out eating dinner, I decided to call my mom. I cried. Again. I knew the Appalachian Trail was going to be hard physically and mentally. I’m getting used to the physical aspect, but there was no amount of preparation for the mental. And prepare, I did try. The things that are getting me were my expectations for the trail. Apparently, I had a lot. Day one on trail showed me how that couldn’t continue and every day since has reinforced that.


I don’t want to quit, but I do need to reevaluate how I’m to approach this trail. I need to take it slow – I’ve accepted that. I desire staying in town every four to five days to get cleaned up. Zeros are fantastic and shouldn’t be viewed as a weakness. Hell, multiple zeros are okay. I need to accept that. Since I’m staying in town more, I will go through my savings quicker and will probably not make it to Mount Katahdin since car problems inhaled a good chunk of my budget during 2023. Such is life.

It’s not about the trail. It’s about the ability to find out more about myself and live life to the fullest. The trail is providing me the opportunity to explore new areas and discover more about what brings me joy. For example, the trail has rekindled my joy of writing. School kind of sucked that passion out of me with assignment after assignment. I’m starting to realize that Mount Katahdin was never a reason to hike – even though summiting would feel great. 

Ending the Night

I ended the call with my mother and decided to do some self care. Of course I took a shower. I slipped into the loaner fleece onesie and made preparations for a foot soak. 

Isn’t the onesie cute? Photograph credit: Steve

Everyone was back by then and we all chatted. It was a good time. Tom, my grandfather, called and wished me well and reinforced that it doesn’t matter if I finish or not. It was nice to hear. I went back to the group discussion and we talked until the start of quiet hour.

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Comments 7

  • Just Steve (Hey Google) : Mar 24th

    I’m down but not out! I had a powwow dinner (there was feasting and singing, but no dancing, obviously) with Clan Topo that night and they made me realize there’s no reason I can’t rejoin them on the trail after I heal. Then I can go and fill in the gap SOBO solo after Katadin. Ha! Initially, I focused too much on the doctor saying the injury was hike-ending. When in reality, it’s just hike-delaying. 😀

  • Dee : Mar 24th

    What an amazing person you are to be thru hiking. The self reflecting and honesty of feelings is so empowering to read. Everything I’ve read says to “Hike Your Own Hike.” Nobody says you have to do the AT all in one season. Whatever you don’t get done one season, you can finish the next. Or maybe that is as far as you need to go. Only you will know. Fourteen miles is amazing. They only tell you to start out slow to avoid overuse injuries. Trust yourself. Trust your body, and do whatever you need to do for you. You got this girl. (PS It is going to take me 5 years to hike the entire AT.)

  • Richard : Mar 24th

    You can do it. I am not going to bullshit you, and you don’t have to thid

  • Stoic : Mar 25th

    Less than 10 miles a day for two weeks, heck three weeks if you are potentially not in the greatest physical shape. It’s the most surefire way to build your bodies stamina without snagging an overuse injury. Big miles come after your body is prepared to take it.

  • Suezean Matarazzo : Mar 25th

    Just discovered your blog. I absolutely love it, your writing style is very engaging. I’m not a hiker, I’m a documentary filmmaker, but I can relate to the long hours and pushing yourself physically to obtain a goal. Keep it up, you’re inspiring.

  • DEB : Mar 26th

    Enjoying tagging along. Appreciate your honesty about some of your struggles out on trail. Good luck out there, stay safe.

  • Jenny Phillips : Mar 29th

    I love the onesie!


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