It’s not goodbye, but so long for now!


I am finally ready to write this post.

On May 21st, I started hiking towards Bland in Virginia. It was raining, again and cool. I climbed up then down a mountain without too much difficulty and was walking along a narrow ridge. All of a sudden, the ground beneath my left foot crumbled and I found myself sliding down a ravine. Just imagine it, my left foot is going down the ravine and my right foot is still on the trail. It was kind of like doing the split. I ended up torqueing my right ankle before fully being engulfed by the ravine. It was pretty steep so I started sliding down but was lucky enough to grab onto a small tree about 10 feet down the ravine.

As I laid there assessing for any injuries (after yelling and cursing loud enough that any bears would have run away), Yankee stayed up on the trail, looking down at me, wondering what the hell I was doing down there until he decided to lay down and wait for me. I tried to use my legs to climb up but there was too much pain. I had either sprained my right ankle badly or broken it. I knew deep down which one it was. So with great effort, I literally crawled up on my belly, slowly at first, that is until the branch I was holding onto started breaking then much faster. I flopped back on the trail and laid there for a few minutes. I then proceeded to get up and started walking. I stubbornly thought maybe I could walk a couple of miles to a road crossing and call for a shuttle. I managed to hobble maybe 100 yards and realized I would not be able to walk far. I sat down underneath a tree so I could be sheltered somewhat from the rain and called 911.

I was lucky I had changed my cell service to Verizon because I got through. They took the details down and told me a deputy would call me to try to locate me. I did have a Spot with me but I did not feel this was a life threatening emergency so I did not push the emergency button. It took 2 hours for the rescuers to finally first find me then get to me. There was an old logging road maybe 1/4 mi south that intersected with the AT. They brought an ATV down to the junction and I managed to hobble with their help to it. We then proceeded to another dirt road with me in the back of the ATV and Yankee following where police cars and an ambulance were parked. The ambulance had 4 wheel drive but not stretcher (don’t ask my why, I had no idea), so they put me in a deputy’s car. He would not take Yankee so he rode in the ambulance. Both of us were driven to the main road where another ambulance was waiting and we were taken to the hospital where Yankee was allowed to accompany me.

Unfortunately my suspicions were confirmed by x-ray. I had broken my ankle and my hike was over. I was devastated. It is one thing to leave the trail because you wanted to quit vs leaving due to something out of your control.

I was lucky to have a friend who came to pick me up and brought me home. I had surgery on June the 1st and am not allowed to bear weight on my right leg for 6 weeks. It has been very challenging going from walking 15 miles a day to sitting for 15 hours a day. It has been even harder on Yankee since he is not being walked very much and he does not understand why.

Will I return next year? Will I do section hikes? I am leaving my options open. For now I am catching up on reading and watching a lot of TV until I can start physiotherapy and start walking then hiking again.

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.

Comments 6

  • Backfire : Jul 4th

    Sorry to hear but glad you made it out with help. My wife broke her ankle badly and had surgery(with a plate and many screws) 20 years ago. She recovered and has been active ever since. Running, walking and hiking the southern half of the AT at 68 years old. Good luck with your healing.

  • Kate Stillwell : Jul 4th

    My heart goes out to you Nadine. Being injured on the trail is devastating especially when it feels as if everything you’ve dreamt about and hoped for comes crashing down. You’ve already accomplished more than most and I hope the memories of the trail and those you met along the way, and especially those who aided in your evacuation, have enriched your life beyond words. Heal well so you and Yankee can get back to walking and perhaps hiking again.

  • Scott : Jul 4th

    You inspire me!

  • James : Jul 4th

    Here’s to a speedy recovery! I broke my right foot over Memorial Day Weekend and cannot put weight on my foot as well so I can relate. Though, I wasn’t on the AT like yourself so you definitely had a sped recovery.

    If your starving for conversation feel free to drop me an email as I have nothing but time on my hands or is it foot? As well.

    All the best


  • Christopher Klemetson : Jul 5th

    I find myself in a similiar predicament as I currently lay here in a VA hospital in
    Salem,Va for kidney stones. Way back in March I was having problems breathing and I spent 3 nights in the hospital for fluid around my lungs in Hiawassee,Ga. The Drs wanted me to go home,but I was stubborn and hiked to the NOC on the river with a fever so I was shuttled to a hospital in Bryson City and was diagnosed with bacterial bronchitis. I ended up zeroing for a week at NOC to recuperate. Jump foward to a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with bronchitis again in Pearisburg,Va for which I zeroed out about 12 days to recover.I was able to hike on to Daleville to get resupplied and rest a few days,but I was forced to have a shuttle driver bring me here to the VA hospital suffering with kidney stone pain. I have been here since last Thursday. They initially placed a renal stent and I am having a procedure done tomorrow to remove at least one stone. Now, after they remove the stone (s) I will have another stent placed for swelling which I will have to endure for another 10 -14 days of which during that time I will not be able to hike. I also have sle lupus and sjogrens syndrome to add to my complications. Your article has helped me to be more accepting of the fact I will not be able to finish the thru hike this year and my 728 miles is more than what a lot of other hikers have done. I look forward to reading more of your articles and finishing the AT in the near future.aka Inspector Gadget

  • Jill Knox (Straps) : Jul 7th

    Since getting off the trail in Roan, TN after an injury myself, I’ve been living vicariously through my husband (who is still on trail) and many others including on-line bloggers like yourself. I am always saddened to hear when someone has to get off the trail because I know the heartache attached to it.
    I have returned to work and DO plan to return next May.
    I wish you a speedy recovery and hope to meet you next year on the trail! 🙂


What Do You Think?