I Never Imagined
Posted from Hot Springs, NC, Day 31, 274.4 miles
In the months prior to leaving on this epic adventure, I wondered about a lot of things. I wondered if my wobbly ankles would hold up or if I would twist and break one like I did years ago–in ten places. I wondered if my back would hold up carrying 25 extra pounds up and down hills day after day. I wondered if my 68 year old body would be up for the rigors of hiking 2,200 miles for six long months. But, in every scenario I wondered about, I never ever imagined that I would have to worry about my fourth toe–on both feet! The other 8 toes are behaving appropriately, but the fourth toe on each foot is acting up. I’ve tried loosening my laces to give them more space. I’ve removed my arch supports and my toe spacers to give them more room, all to no avail–until recently. Our trail angel, Nancy, took me to an outfitter a few days ago where I bought myself new insoles for my shoes called Superfeet. So far, they have solved two problems–my right ankle rubbing up against the edge of my shoe AND the fourth toe dilemma. Yesterday, I was able to walk 16 miles pain free–and was ready to do more!
In preparing for this trip, we took every precaution for hiking as lightweight as possible. At the start of our journey, my fully loaded pack weighed in at 23 pounds and Mel’s weighed 27. So, I never imagined that there would be people on the trail carrying 50, 60 and 70 pound packs! The other day we talked with a young, enthusiastic woman who was hiking in a skirt and sandals. (Mel told me later that skirts are a popular attire for women particularly on the Pacific Crest Trail or PCT). Storybook, this young woman’s trail name, had hiked the PCT last year–and started out with a 70 pound pack!! It must have been half her body weight! I don’t know how she even lifted it up! Fortunately, twenty miles into her hike, she had someone do a ‘shakedown’ of her pack–where an experienced hiker goes through your pack and tells you what you should get rid of. Apparently, Storybook thought she needed to bring ‘arts and crafts’ along in case she ran out of things to do!! Now, I don’t know if her ‘arts and crafts’ included equipment for making birdhouses or needlepoint–no matter! There’s barely time to get from point A to point B, let alone do arts and crafts. But it was a funny story that she enjoyed telling us. By the way, the ‘shakedown’ relieved her of 35 pounds–and left her with 35, which is what she was carrying when we met her– but still too many pounds for me!
I never imagined that I would see people carrying jars of peanut butter and Nutella with large packages of tortillas to spread them on. I never imagined that I would see full jars of Sriracha Sauce and other seasonings. It all looked like yummy stuff (except maybe the hot sauce), but do you know how heavy that would make your pack?? Yikes!!
I also never imagined that I could be lying in my tent in the middle of this pristine wilderness and smell cigarette smoke wafting into my tent! I never imagined that I could be sitting in a quaint wooden shelter in the middle of the Smoky Mountains and inhale cigar smoke! ARGH! I am both saddened and alarmed at the number of young people who have embarked on this beautiful and challenging journey who also choose to smoke. I am totally baffled by the irony of it all.
Mostly, I would never have imagined, when I was a young girl, that someday, when I was as old as my grandmother, I would even be able to attempt a journey of this magnitude. Mel and I have both been blessed with an abundance of good health–a gift we greatly appreciate and are deeply thankful for every day we are out here.
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judge and be not judged
Thanks for this missive.
Glad you were able to get some super feet. You could do a plantar fascia/ toe stretch. https://www.drwolgin.com/Pages/plantarfascia.aspx
Also, it’s amazing how many respiratory therapists smoke.
Thanks, Audrey! I’ll check out that site. I’ve been trying everything–including stretching and wiggling and time out!