Miles To Go Before I Sleep
On day 4 I was given the trail name Stop N Go, that was also the day I hurt my knee by eating trail for the 4th day in a row. The next day I beasted up Blood Mountain. I pushed through several very low mile days to Low Gap where we took a zero for the snow. My stubbornness told me one zero would be plenty and surely the knee pain would subside. I kept pushing from there. I took a nero a few miles after reaching Tray Mountain, quite possibly the longest 5 miles of my life.
It was on this day I met Odin, who kept me motivated on the climb up and who may have been almost as slow as me. He also nearly gave me a heart attack by taking a nap mid-trail later in the day. Even now, I will go on record to say Odin was the most awesome & positive person I met on trail & I will forever remember him, as well as the climb to Tray Mountain shelter.
From Steel trap near Tray I kept pushing on to Deep Gap Shelter then Dicks Creek Gap. However much I thought that the zero and nero would help, my mileage continued to remain low and slow.
I hitched into town from Dick’s Creek to resupply and hopefully find a place to stay for the night. No such luck. Wild Child & I returned to Dicks Creek, spent a night stealth camping, chatting and eating like mad from our resupplied (& horribly heavy) food bags.
The next morning I packed as usual and we began the climb up from the road. I made it a quarter mile or so before I turned around, found a spot by the road that had signal, in the rain, and texted “I think I want to go home. I think I’m done.”
My husband ran through a checklist. “Are you sure? You don’t just need a zero?” Among a million other questions.
I was sure. My body was physically too exhausted to heft my backpack up one more hill, despite the fact that I was just a day away from the North Carolina border. My left knee, in particular, hadn’t stopped hurting in 11 days, going up or down or even walking on flat ground. All the ibuprofen and pain killers and wraps in the world hadn’t helped at this point. I was afraid if I kept going something would go seriously wrong with it.
Back home for a few days, I know that I made some mistakes within my first two weeks on the trail that probably helped the process of deciding to stop pushing come to a boil.
Wild Child & I were miles apart in terms of fitness level. She was either waiting on me or I was pushing (and breaking) myself in the process of trying to catch up with her or meet her at our designated camp.
I also chose to go 90% cook for my drops. I tried to correct this on our dash into town to resupply but by then I had little to no energy to continue my hike. All the no-cook food in the world couldn’t save me at that point. I had been crashing into my hammock each night, too tired to cook and waking up the same after little to no sleep. When I left Tray Mountain shelter between my knee and my low energy levels, I made it 2 miles before I stopped, set up my hammock, and slept for 4 hours despite the warning of thunderstorms and my being on a ridge. There was just no gas left in my tank to get me to the next shelter that day.
Since coming home and resting there are moments I wish I hadn’t quit. I’d love to still be hiking, I loved the short journey I had but I was not hiking my own hike and I was not listening to my body. I ignored every warning sign my body threw at me and I didn’t listen. Home is where that got me. My first 2 days back home were agony. My legs, my ankles, and knees were always in pain. I couldn’t even roll over in bed at night. Now, 5 days from coming home I’m beginning to feel human as my body plays catch up on healing itself.
With all that being said, I’m not ready to retire my backpack. Later this year my husband and I will go back to finish out my section and cross into North Carolina. My pack and my gear are just on hiatus. Will I make plans to thru hike in the future? It’s quite possible. The hasn’t been a day off the trail yet that I don’t think about the journey. For now, section hiking the AT is my goal and if my knees fare well, we will see what the future holds for me. I just know that I’m not ready to leave my dreams of being a 2000 miler any way that I can get it. I still have miles to go before I sleep.
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.