Ouch. I hoped that I wouldn’t have any injuries, but I’m off the trail for a bit. My left heel has been bothering me for a while, and I stepped the wrong way (while slack packing to give it a break!). And then it hurt A LOT!
Luckily I had only 3.6 sort of rocky, but flat, Pennsylvania miles back to Smith Gap Road, where the shuttle driver John Stempa would be picking me up. And that section of the trail is the closest it passes to my home. So I rented a car and drove home.
No answers yet. I saw the orthopedic doctor and an x-ray was normal. So he’s ordered an MRI to make sure there’s no stress fracture. Unfortunately, the soonest they MRI could be scheduled, so far, was Friday evening. And with the holiday weekend, that means days before I get the results. So I don’t know if I should just go back to the trail if my foot feels better, or wait for the MRI results. I’m definitely going stir crazy here with no physical activity. I’ve already sorted through three months of accumulated mail, eaten several salads, some yogurt, and a bunch of fresh fruit, washed all my gear, and balanced my checking account. I even found that the lid from a can of cashews is just the right size to replace the lid to my stove which fell off somewhere when I was crossing the “knife edge”. My featured image for this blog post shows Boomer standing on a large rock on the knife edge, requesting advice as to how to descend. He figured it out on his own. I wish I’d kept my camera out, as he was straddling a gap with his right feet on one ledge and his left feet on another ledge, slowly working his way down. The agility training we did years ago seems to have paid off.
Being injured is very frustrating when I’d finally gotten to the point where I could hike 15 to 20 miles per day without being exhausted. At least I’m sitting out some hot dry weather. And at least it wasn’t the kind of injury where somebody had to come and assist or carry me out.
I can definitely say that Pennsylvania is a rocky state. I am not certain that it’s rockier then Virginia, however. I’ll have to finish the last part of Pennsylvania, and hike through New Jersey, before passing judgment.
On the day before I got hurt, I did have a pleasant stretch picking and eating blueberries in the hot shadeless area with hikers named Baby Chicken and Optimistic Dreamer (OD).
The day that I slack packed, poor OD showed up at the hostel carrying his fellow hikers’ empty water bottles. He’d been elected to fetch water and he looked exhausted and hot. Luckily he was able to get a ride back uphill to the trailhead.
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I’m sorry to hear you’re injured but I’m glad for the update. I’ve been following along since you started, and suddenly there was this long gap between posts. You know, of course, that it is axiomatic that major systems (think AC, stoves, copiers) and human parts (like your feet) will soldier on through ordinary days without as much of a whimper, and then break down completely the evening before a long weekend. Or, if you live in a hunting state, the evening before opening day, when no service technician of any kind is anywhere near the facilities that might perform service. I hope that by the time you get the MRI results you’ve already discovered that you simply needed to stay off your feet for a few days, and are ready to hit the trail again!