The Dirt on the Trail: Chapter 4
We got up for the $5 pancake breakfast next door, then returned to our room to flop around until check out. We got a surprise visit from Strider, who we hiked a lot with last year. He was nice enough to buy everyone’s meal at the tavern.
Since a room at the tavern was a little pricey for our budget, we booked a much cheaper cabin down the street, which we checked into for our second night in town. We rushed to the Hillbilly Market to get subs before they closed (I had a dream about subs during my power nap), then said goodbye to Strider who was getting ready to hike the PCT (Miss you buddy! Have a blast)! The rest of the evening, we listened to music and farted around the cabin as it rained outside.
The following morning sucked since we had to say goodbye to our current Tramily. Some hiked on while others headed home or elsewhere. We recruited No Chill and Howdy to join us in our cabin for our third night in town, and enjoyed some brews at the tavern for lunch. The rest of the evening, I stayed off my ankle. I’m hoping two zeroes pays off!
After grabbing breakfast at the diner, we packed up and started hiking. My ankle was being a bastard. We started the AT doing 2.5-3 mph and have recently slowed down to 1.5 mph. My pride hurt probably more than my ankle, however we got to check out new views!
Last year, the mountains were burning and we had to hitch around the wildfires (Thanks Ms. Janet). This time we got to see the ~14 miles we missed out on last year. The Rich Mountain Lookout Tower was disappointing (I take it the holes in the floor were the reason why it was locked up), but we saw nice views of town on the way out, and a pretty little pond on the way to Spring Mountain Shelter.
The next morning, I was hoping my ankle would hold up.
Long story short, my ankle was feeling worse, and after much discussion and talking down my ego (with the help of Frisbee), I decided to hike the remaining 4 miles to Allen Gap, and then hitch back to Hot Springs. It’s early in the game, and I don’t want to injure myself beyond repair (like last year), to the point where I would be incapable to finish the season. This trail has made me cry more than any boy ever has.
For your information, I’m not quitting! I just decided to head back home solo, via Greyhound bus, and get healed up. Zeroing in trail towns gets costly. Frisbee decided to continue hiking and I will be returning in time for Trail Days. The game plan? I’m going to attend Trail Days, hike out of wherever Frisbee ends up (likely north of Damascus), hopefully summit Katahdin this year, then execute those skipped miles in the fall.
I hate this decision. Being injured sucks. Leaving the trail sucks. Not being a solid NOBOer sucks. However, what would suck the most would be not finish two years in a row, and in order to do so, I need to be my best self. And to be my best self, I need to place my pride and ego in the backseat, and heal. Appalachian Trail, I’ll be back soon to finish business.
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