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.
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