Evolving Plans and a Couple of Blogs to Check Out.


I can assure you that this isn’t a selfie. This was right after surgery.

I will admit that many thought I was nuts when I told them that I planned to finish my thru hike in spite of having to take 3 months off to recover from my rotator cuff surgery.  My revised plan seemed possible.  Before my surgery, I reserved a tent site in Baxter State Park in the third week of August.  The plan was to climb Katahdin and head south to Harpers Ferry.  I thought I can get there by Thanksgiving, then go back to where I started in March and hike south to Springer.

Ice after PT, my favorite part!

Ice after PT, my favorite part!

Turns out most people were right, I was nuts.  The doctor explained to me that in August, I will be good for most normal activities, but one good fall and I could be back to square one.  Words cannot express how much I don’t want to have to go through this again.  I will never again be able to read a note about some baseball player going on the DL to get his rotator cuff repaired without fighting the impulse to send flowers and a sympathy card.  Being saddled with one incredibly fragile, often painful arm leaves me much too dependent especially after the freedom of the trail.  Since all of our cars have manual transmissions, I’m under house arrest until the end of June.  My rehab is going well.  I have exercises to do twice a day.  When I go in for PT, the therapist basically moves my arm trying to achieve something like the normal range of motion.  This process isn’t fun.    After a little over two weeks, I was no longer eating Oxycodine like chiclets, I could touch my right shoulder with my right hand and on a good morning, button my own shirt.  After four weeks, my nice, empathetic physical therapist transformed into a heinous bitch determined to torture me “for my own good.”  Even better, I got a new set of exercises that let me bring all this fun home.  I’m regaining the strength and flexibility of my shoulder, but this is a slow painful process.  My latest fantasy, is to go back to Marion, Virginia and hike south to Springer starting in late September. This may be more realistic and I really like the idea of following the the changing seasons to the south, but to do this I have to be able to put on my pack without screaming and hang my food bag without tears.  Next May, I can go back to Harpers Ferry and hike north to Katahdin.  While this isn’t the thru hiked I planned, it’s the one I can do given the circumstances.

Walking with Autumn
Fall’s colorful explosions
shadow my journey

So what else am I doing these days?  I’m walking the trails of Greensboro for two or three hours a day.  When I can drive, I will probably go over to walk up Pilot Mountain once a week.  The only thing I would really do differently to get ready for my hike would be to spend more time working on going up hill.  I’m reading a lot of trail blogs.  In addition to the wonderful bloggers at Appalachian Trials, here are a couple that are worth a look…

Carrot Quinn:  Carrot is the author of Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart,  an infamous packorexic (does this shelter make my pack look fat?) and a badass backpacker.  Her book is probably my favorite trail memoir. In it she tells the story of her PCT thru hike.  She perfectly captures the delightful squalor of a thru hike and the loving embrace of her trail family.  It’s all there…warts and all! Her blog is equally awesome.  Her recent posts tell of her hike of the Hayduke Trail.  While I can accept that this particular hike is more hardcore than I can handle, I can experience it through her posts and pictures.   (Carrot’s Instagram feed)

Brown Girl on the P(CT): I started following Amanda’s blog at Carrot’s recommendation.  She is currently hiking the PCT.  Last year she successfully completed the Colorado Trail. (both on my bucket list!) The trail isn’t really a very diverse place.  Is hoisting packs and walking great distances just something that crazy white folks do or does backpacking offer gifts that enrich the lives of anyone willing to take on its burdens?  While I can accept that backpacking may not be everyones cup of tea, I definitely believe that our nation’s trails offer experiences that can enrich the lives of anyone.  I’m a former teacher.  In schools one of the ways we look at programs is to ask the question, “Do all racial, ethnic and economic groups in the school’s population proportionally participate in all the school’s programs?”  While we can’t really tell very much about the economic status of thru hikers (Let’s face it…we all look homeless), backpackers of color are definitely under represented.  I think we have to wonder why this is the case.  It is definitely true that citizens who experience our national parks and trails are more likely to appreciate their value and understand the importance of holding onto these resources.  Our country benefits from all of us having a shared understanding of this value.  Amanda is by no means the Jackie Robinson of backpacking, but she is a woman of color whose writing inspires me to follow in her footsteps.  At its core, her blog is simply the story of someone sharing their love of the trail…a love anyone reading this blog would share.  That she occasionally includes observations about ‘hiking while black’ is a big plus.  Believing as I do that long distance hiking offers its benefits to all and that the citizens of the USA should understand and appreciate the value of the natural wonders that our government has been wise enough to preserve, it is important for me to understand these observations.  When she addresses this topic, the typical internet trolls swarm to discount them, but we all know people of color are under represented on the trail.  Given my belief that it is important to have a shared understanding of the value of the wild places available to us, this is a problem.  May she give us insights into finding a solution to this problem and may she also inspire others of all colors to seek out the wonderful experiences our wild places have to offer us.  Amanda is also fundraising for a program called Big City Mountaineers.  We all know that a lack of experience is one of the greatest barriers to hitting the trail.  Here’s an organization doing something about that. (Amanda’s Instagram feed)

Erin “Wired” Saver:  Erin is a triple crowner with extensive experience on scads of trails.  She has also consistently shared this experience through her blog.  Erin is also a planner and shares a summary of lessons learned on most of the trails she has done for anyone interested in following her footsteps.  Erin undoubtable has the largest internet footprint of the three bloggers.  She has been writing about her trips for five years.  While she has much more material available, I haven’t read anywhere near as much of it as I have of the other two women.  Only enough to say that her blog is well worth checking out. (Erin’s Instagram feed)

Clearly I have a thing for strong women!

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