Day 15: Another Injury and the Encroaching Rain

Decision Time

I woke up to the sound of Newfound whispering, “The shuttle leaves in ten.” I have no idea who that was for, but I merely closed my eyes and tried to fall back asleep. I was so cozy. It didn’t work out since I needed to pee.

I had a big decision. Do I stay in Franklin another day to rest up and avoid the rain predicted, or do I just go? I peered outside and saw it was sunny. I tested my ankles and knees and felt no pain. Sighing, I made the decision to hike.

I rushed to pack and change into my hiking clothes as quietly as I could. Despite it being 8:15, the hostel was silent as people still slept. It definitely wasn’t like that yesterday. I saw Nate was up and asked him to tell Steve that I said goodbye. I paid for the nights I stayed and headed down the hill to walk into town. I very quickly realized I didn’t have my trekking poles and headed back up the hill.

Heading to Town and the Shuttle Ride

Unfiltered was just pulling in and he asked if everything was okay. I’m very sure he saw me sobbing outside last night, but I said I was fine. He offered me a ride into town so I could make the 9:00 shuttle provided by the town of Franklin. I must have looked frantic. I got two donuts and munched on them as I waited for the shuttle.

When the shuttle arrived, two people got out and as I was stepping inside, one of them asked, “You blog for the Trek, right?” “I do.” “I’ve read your stuff.” “How cool. Thank you!” I was quick to plop down and began searching for my wallet to pay the five dollar fare. The man who stepped on with me said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got us both.” He put ten dollars in. “Oh, you don’t have to do that. Here.” I handed him a five dollar bill. He shook his head and said, “Just pay it forward.” Trail magic being performed by another hiker. Five minutes later, he asked, “You blog for the Trek?” #famous 

On the way to Winding Gap Staircase, I tried not to be lulled by the movements of the vehicle. I closed my eyes anyways. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived. I got out and there was a couple performing trail magic. I didn’t speak with them or take anything – I just headed for the trail. I was in a weird mood.

Restarting the Hike

I filled up with water and started hiking. It felt kind of freeing to not have a destination in mind or try to keep up with others. I enjoyed the sun and the sounds of nature. I was, however, extremely paranoid about the possibility of getting injured. With Steve’s hike done for the year and several people saying that so many are off trail because of injuries, the statistics weren’t looking great.

Just one of the numerous, weirdly labeled gaps of the Appalachian Trail.

I passed Sunny, a hiker staying at The Grove Hostel, who was slackpacking the day southbound. We chatted and she continued on as I headed uphill. The positive feelings I was having earlier in the day were drying up. I made it to the sign pointing for Siler Bald Shelter (3.7 miles into the hike) and sat down. I had no energy, but the sky was still sunny. I can do a little more. I continued on. 

Up to Wayah Bald

By the time I made it to Wayah Gap, I was seriously considering calling for a shuttle. I had no desire to continue. My Achilles tendon was stiff again and I feared that if I pushed myself, I would start getting the stabbing pains that would tell me it’s inflamed. I didn’t want to pay an outrageous shuttle fee, though, so I continued on.

I regretted every step. I knew I needed to stop and eat, but I didn’t want to. The sky was getting darker, and I had no desire to hike in the rain. I pushed on. If you are to learn one thing from me, listen to your body. What I did and will probably continue to do, is stupid. Don’t be me.

A view as I hiked up Wayah Bald. You can see the rain in the distance.

After what felt like hours, I made it to Wine Spring Camp. The entire way uphill, I was trying not to cry. Some tears fell, but when I wanted to sob, I suppressed it. Sobbing and hiking uphill leaves you gasping for breath. I’d much rather get up the mountain and cry later.

Wine Spring Camp

There were two other tents set up and the woman, named Whim, who had just recently passed me was claiming a spot for herself. Seeing them setting up made me feel like I could allow myself to stop for the day. I debated continuing on, but the hike so far was miserable, so why continue? I pitched my tent, got my bear hang up, filtered some water, and cleaned my face and feet.

I came back to camp to see two older guys sitting down on one of the numerous logs. “Are you guys debating on staying for the night or continuing on?” I asked. Earlier in the day, they said that they were shooting for Wayah Shelter. “I think I broke my ankle, so I’m debating on going to the closest forest service road or wait for tomorrow,” said one of the guys. “Oh shit,” I whispered. “You should head out today before it gets swollen.” “It’s already swollen. I broke my ankle two months before starting and I guess it wasn’t fully healed.” I watched the two go as it began to rain. He rebroke his ankle by tripping over a root.

It was 3:00 and I spent the rest of my day in my tent. I would occasionally have service, so I’d go on Facebook and ended up making a reservation at Gorgeous Stays for the day after tomorrow. I will stay in a tiny house – an obsession I’ve had since I was fourteen. How could I say no? Plus, they have an onsite chiropractor specifically for thru-hikers.

The Encroaching Rain

As the rain continued to pour, I noticed some water creeping its way towards my tent. I got out my poop trowel and carved a small trench so the water would flow elsewhere. My tent’s soaked anyways, but I prefer not waking up in a puddle. It has happened before and none of that was a good time.

With the heavy rain, droplets were hitting the ground and bouncing into my tent. Not enough to soak everything, but enough to get water in places. If only Durston tents had higher walls, this problem would be fixed.

The rain was a nice lullaby, though, and I fell asleep to its hypnotic rhythm.

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Comments 7

  • David O. : Mar 26th

    Ha! You’re outstanding. (I know, out standing in the…) Anyway, I so relate. Thanks, and keep doing your thing.

  • Just Steve (Hey Google) : Mar 26th

    I’m not dead yet! 🙂 I had dinner with the rest of the Clan and they made me realize I could rejoin them after I heal and finish hiking to Katahdin. Then I can go and SOBO in my missed gap! Brilliant! Not the course I planned. But a modified flip-flop works for me. We’ll call it the Steve Special. I focused too much on the doctor saying the injury was hike ending when in reality it is only hike delaying.

  • Dee : Mar 26th

    A physical therapist also named Morgan (trail name Blaze) has a practice on the PCT that helps thru hikers with injuries. She also consults via video on the other trails. She is amazing and will be able to get you back on your feet. Google Blazephysio. She is really kind and helpful.

  • Patty : Mar 26th

    Something most of us only dream about…You are so brave and have such determination! Proud of you!! 😎😁

  • Phyllis G : Mar 27th

    Morgan, You are an inspiration to this old gal! Praying for strength, courage, and protection for you and the other hikers. Slow and steady wins the race!

  • Rainbow 88 : Mar 27th

    2000 miler advise,
    An injury sustained while thru hiking can be devastating not only physically but mentally. How you handle the injury will make all the difference in your recovery and success. An achilles tendon injury can be a very sensitive and delegate injury sometimes needing very special attention. The best advice I can give you is early evaluation by medical professional. One who understands your goals and is willing to be aggressive to help you recover in the fastest way possible. In my 2016 thru hike I developed Achilles tendon pain when I got to New York State. The pain continued to get unbearably worse over the course of 7 to 10 day. For me I decided to get off the trail head home and get it evaluated. Luckily I was fortunate to know a good orthopedic Doctor Who specialized in sports injuries and PRP treatment. He ordered an MRI of the Achilles tendon. The results found a partial tear. The best course of action to get me back on the trail in the least amount of healing time was to do PRP injection. In addition to the PRP treatment he used a substance to help bridge the gap tear along with injecting additional igf-1. Due to the extent of the tear and my quick actions to seek medical treatment I was able to get the Achilles tendon to heal within a month and I was back out on the trail in 6 weeks enough time to be able to complete my thru hike. What I did isn’t for everyone and was very extreme but I just wanted to provide you with some past experience. For you your injury may not be as bad as mine was but the moral of the story is have it checked out as early as possible, a lot of achilles tendon injuries can quickly turn into a long recovery. Good luck. Heres wishing a quick recovery.

  • Just Steve (Hey Google) - fellow Team Durston member : Mar 29th

    You just need to storm-pitch your Durston. Stake/tighten the 4 corners as close to the tent corners as possible. No extra line between the stakes and the tent corners. Then, when you extend your tent poles there will be no or very little gap between the ground and the bottom edges of your tent. No (or much less) gap for rain bounce to get in. A flat, even site will work best 🙂


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