Hindsight, Foresight, Insight

Hey Y’all!

Let me introduce myself, as this is my first blog ever. My trailname is “Hindsight,” for three reasons. First, I have no peripheral vision and am therefore considered legally blind. Essentially, I go through life stumbling around and knocking over crap like a kid playing Cowboys & Indians while looking through a paper towel tube. It’s really quite charming and humorous…until someone breaks a leg (more on that later). I am also the slowest hiker in all quantum universes. When I say slow, I mean the hare, of Aesop’s fable fame, would still beat me even with all his breaks for jabbering. Thus, because of my sight, I am always behind the other hikers. Get it??

The second reason is one shared by many other hikers: I am on the trail, in part, for reflection, inspiration, and to figure everything out. I’m just not sure that the Appalachian Trail is going to be long enough for that. I pretty much suck at figuring things out. Oh look, something shiney!

The third reason, clearly the most transparent, comes from my training partner, who gets credit for giving me the name in the first place. I always hiked in front, thereby providing him mostly with views of nothing but my behiney. I never heard him complain.

I am section hiking the Appalachian Trail each July, hoping to finish at Mt. Katahdin in 2020, the year I turn 50. My sections will be in the 200-300 mile range, give or take a step or two (million). I am currently on my  second section, Rock Gap, NC to Roan Mt, TN, approx. 287 miles. Last year I hiked from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, GA to Rock Gap, NC, precisely 106 miles. That one did not end so well…

See, what happened was…

When I say my first section didn’t end well, I can’t decide if it’s an understatement or an absurdity. I broke my leg. And when I say broke, I mean I blowed it up real good. Hearing one’s own tibia and fibula snap while in mid-air is a sensory experience no human should have. It made me wish I had gone deaf instead of blind.

The worst part, outside of the excruciating pain, surgery, and inability to walk for six months, was the realization that the injury occurred because I was stupid. It did not happen because I was running from a bear, or hurdling, a rattlesnake, or scrambling through a treacherous boulder minefield. It did not even have anything to do with my limited vision. Nope. It happened because of my dang mp3 player.

While going down an easy, flat, obstacle-free section of trail (yes, there is one), I began fumbling in my pocket for my audio player. The trail was right there under my foot, I swear…until it wasn’t. It crumbled, leaving nothing but air. Air is not a particularly stable surface for a 125lb woman (do not tell anyone how much I weigh; that’s private) hauling a 35lb strap-on. I fell inward toward the trail and my left leg snapped like a chicken bone. Actually two chicken bones. I screamed, not from the pain (okay, maybe a little from the pain) but because I heard my heart break in that instant too. All three before I ever hit the ground. I knew in that moment it was over. Of course, that did not keep me from telling myself ridiculous stuff like “sit here for a minute, it’ll be ok,” and “just rub some dirt on it”, despite the fact that I could see both bones protruding under the skin in opposite directions.

The 911 operator was real nice.

Cleopatra

As I lay on the embankment, awaiting EMS, and trying to remember how far back that rattlesnake had been, my training partner kept me occupied via an intense phone discussion on who was the best Beatle. I had no memory of this until he mentioned it after my surgery to which my response was “OMG, if I said ‘Ringo’ it was totally the pain talking.” “You said ‘George'” he replied. Whew. Got it right.

Then I heard Macon County (NC) EMS coming up the mountain. They sounded like the Seven Dwarfs whistling away the work week. Then they came around the bend. Ladies, listen to me. They. Do. Exist. The firemen from the calendar are real! Maybe it was the adrenalin, but I swear Mr. January through Mr. October had come to rescue me. And here I am not having showered in 5 days. Fabulous. 

They hoisted me into a basket and carried me down the mountain. My insight came then when I realized that the most dangerous mindtrap on the trail is complacency. You are most at risk when it’s easy-going, because that’s when the inattentiveness sets in.

My foresight also came while the firemen were carrying me out of there like Cleopatra: This right here is the way to do the Appalachian Trail.

AT Leaving Franklin Hospital

Stay tuned for more blogs about my current AT adventures.

 

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Comments 13

  • Steve : Jul 7th

    Maybe I’ll see ya on the trail next July when I happen to turn 50!

    Reply
  • Russ : Jul 7th

    Enjoyed the read, even if written by a Gamecock. Happy Trails!

    Reply
  • Mark : Jul 7th

    Great blog post “Hindsight”, I hope things go a little smoother around this time. I admire your courage, getting back on the horse, so to speak. And as my favorite quote, from movie Jeremiah Johnson goes, “Watch your top knot”

    Reply
  • Diane : Jul 7th

    Hello Hindsight! Enjoyed your post. I’m attempting a thruhike in 2017 and will be slow too. I’m just curious as to how many miles a day you covered?…..Dynamite

    Reply
    • Hindsight : Jul 7th

      Hey there Dynamite! I haul ass at around 1mph. My daily distance is impacted by daylight and difficulty of the teail. I consider 10 miles to be a great day. But as a thru hiker, you will get a lot faster than that after a few weeks. Best of luck!!

      Reply
  • Craig Evans : Jul 7th

    Oh. This is good. You’ve found another medium for your friend’s entertainment (and delight). Carry on Deev, albeit carefully, please.

    Reply
    • Hindsight : Jul 7th

      Thanks Frailin!

      Reply
  • Karyn Taylor : Jul 7th

    Ahh that was great! Not the snap, fly, scream part but you know what I mean. You need a cadence for the mental rough spots, not that you’d have the wind to chant, but the rhythm in your head might make you chuckle. Like Salty Dog, there could be 1000 lyrics. Hindsight’s hikes are really slow, but they get her where she needs to go. Tackle that trail Reid!

    Reply
  • Roger Wren : Jul 9th

    Enjoyed reading about your adventure, Reid. Your writing style is classic! Keep pushing on.

    Reply
  • Jeff : Jul 10th

    I think it’s awesome you’re back at it again, kudos. I to am about to hit the big 50, done some day hikes, several over-nighters and a few 3/4 day trips. I have been reading alot on the AT and the wonderful blogs of people’s experiences on the AT. I think you are on to something on the section hiking though, 25 years ago I would have jumped at the chance to thru hike it just to say I did but now I like to stop and smell the roses. I’d rather stop and check out a rock formation for 2 hrs or a helluva good veiw while figuring out the universe than just zipping past it!! I may start out on a thru hike but I’d never make so think the section hike would be awesome. I hope you stop often, check out your surroundings, enjoy the view and enjoy being out. If you make you final destination great if you fall short, who cares, pick it up next year. Least you enjoyed it to the fullest, you have inspired me greatly…….thank you!

    Reply
  • Zach : Jul 11th

    You are awesome.

    Reply
  • Rockin' Robin : Jul 12th

    Thanks for that. Prwtty freakin’ funny…

    Reply
  • Columbus Brueggemann : Aug 1st

    Finally, the talent could be within your walls or faux walls of your pods or cubicles.  Investment in lean training and problem-solving in cross-functional groups can pay off in bringing hindsight to foresight.  If the capability isn t within your current resources, you may find your vendors have the talent, unbiased view and expertise to guide the process and farm the data.  Success in transforming past experience into future success is a matter of simply identifying the opportunity and seeking out the best set of resources to match.

    Reply

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