Depression, Surgeries, and Regeneration

Well hello there, Trek folk!

I must say, it has been over a year since I last updated this blog. I feel guilty about letting it go to the wayside, but it might have been for the best.

Why Did I Vanish? A Few Things

  • Post-trail depression sucks worse than my already-diagnosed clinical depression and GAD; it was just a cherry on top of that sad sundae.
  • I couldn’t hike due to my injured leg.
  • I didn’t have health insurance to get it fixed.
  • I had no motivation to get up in the morning and go into work.
  • I drowned my sorrows in Netflix and PlayStation binges.
  • I slept whenever I could.
  • Trying to write about my problems was only going to worsen the issue.

I’m not going to go into the detail of 2018. It wasn’t all bad, but I needed a break from breathing the AT, because I longed for it more than ever, and that was eating away at my sanity.

The Good in 2018

  • I finally received health insurance around March.
  • I had knee surgery May 24.
  • I kept myself busy during the summer work days.
  • I could walk with little pain by December.

Surgery Results Came in as Follows

  • Two-thirds of my femur cartilage was ripped off from hiking, so it was removed and smoothed out.
  • Sprained ACL that partially healed, so they left it be because it’d be at more risk of further injury if they fiddled with it.
  • Medial meniscus tear, cleaned/trimmed up.

Thanks a lot, Appalachian Trail (and my stubborn-AF brain for not getting off the trail sooner).

I barely hiked in 2018 due to crippling injuries and recovery from said surgery. They said recovery was a good nine to 12 months, especially for my lifestyle and activities.

Being told you can’t hike, rock climb, longboard, snowboard, or mountain bike sucks.

2019’s New Outlook

Finally, at the end of February, I am seeing and feeling the results of my surgery. I don’t have such a notable limp. My left leg is about one centimeter smaller around due to compensating on it for over a year after injury. Thus, my right leg is a powerhouse.

I started back up at the gym this month, and I have very little discomfort. I tried months before and it ended poorly.

I did my first long hikes within February; each were about three to four miles. Not having the stabbing pain and/or the buckling of the knee has been a breath of fresh air.

I’m on another anti-depressant (plus my usual). I do feel a lot better than a few weeks back. Even though I have accepted my AT’s early end, I still deal with depression every day, and have for many, many years. I’m just glad I’m improving slowly; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I’ve lost ten pounds in the past month. I’m still overweight compared to pre-AT Amber, but since my body was sent into a dormant mode due to depression and injury, it’s understandable. I am going strong with my old routine, and the results are happening quickly.

What Is on the Horizon?

Well, I am happy to say that I am feeling like my old self, and planning my future hikes. I will finish the Appalachian Trail over a few more LASHs, but I have many other hikes on my list.

2019’s season will be autumn thru-hikes/E2Es of the Long Trail in Vermont or the Mid State Trail in Pennsylvania. Both of these hikes are around +/-300 miles. One is much more difficult than the other, but both will be great intros back into long-distance hiking.

Over the next few months I will be getting back into beast mode and hiking many trails in my state (PA) and around the area. I will do small sections of the AT to see how my body handles the trail again.

Gear-wise, I have to lighten up. My doctor said to keep my hiking going for a long time, as little weight as possible must be put on my left knee since I now only have one-third of my cartilage. This will be an expensive UL upgrade, but if it means doing what I love, then bring it on.,

What About Your Trek Blog? Is This a Revamp?

Darn right it is. I will keep you all updated on what’s happening with future hikes, my weight loss and muscle gain, diets, gear, etc. Also, tons of advice on what not to do on a long hike.

Please stay tuned, and make sure to follow my Instagram, as that is where I am active daily.

Oh, and I will see y’all at Trail Days 2019 in Damascus.

Stay connected with me. Subscribe to my posts and social media at:


Keep on keeping on, family.


© Amber Redfield

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?