Pre-Trail Injuries Are a Pain, Literally

Date: March 14, 2022
Location: Parents’ pullout air mattress

Suffice it to say I’m not where I want to be right now. I had everything planned and lined up, and I had done everything right. I’d given myself a year to get in shape hiking in the White Mountains, planned my work life to expire in January, and set myself up mentally for the AT in 2022, after over a year of planning and agonizing over gear and researching the trail. I’ve moved out of my apartment, renewed my driver’s license, consulted heavily with a friend who’s hiked the trail previously, deleted Hinge, and bought bright yellow Frog Toggs. I’d set a start date of March 8, 2022. Everything was happening as I had foreseen.

And then, the Monday morning after the Super Bowl, I rolled out of bed kinda wonky. The Tuesday after the Super Bowl, I could really only hobble around on one leg. It HURT. Little known fact – two working legs are typically essential gear for hiking over 2,000 miles. The manuals often don’t mention this. The Wednesday after the Super Bowl, I was in urgent care in Brookline, Massachusetts hoping x-rays didn’t show that I was completely FUCKED.

And this is in my left knee, which is nominally the good one – the right one blew out an ACL playing ultimate on the beach in Wildwood, NJ (of all places) and required surgery five years ago. Needless to say, I don’t love knee injuries. Even less so before attempting to climb up and down mountains for 5-6 months. The thought entered my mind that this could be it – adventure over before it even started. The plan was to move out to Colorado after the trail; does that happen immediately instead? Do I delay the hike for a year? More? All because I rolled out of bed awkwardly?

What Came Next

A trip to the orthopedic knee guy alleviated my fears. He played around with my knee for a hot second, testing to see if anything was loose or out of place, and finally determined that I have a minor meniscus tear, which in the grand scheme of things is no big deal. He shot me up with a steroid injection (goodbye, my chances at the Baseball Hall of Fame), and recommended rest and PT for a few weeks before I set out on the AT.

So here I am. In a holding pattern, icing my knee after PT, watching from my parents’ couch while The Bubble enthusiastically hits the trail. It’s been pretty much impossible to avoid the thoughts of “That should be me out there, what am I missing, I’m so bored right now.” It’s killer to have put so much effort into getting the trip ready and off the ground only to be stuck for another few weeks. At least I avoided that nasty snowstorm that rolled in on nearly the entire trail. Silver linings!

I’ve pushed my start date back to April 4, and lemme tell ya, it’s kind of awkward to have a whole going away night out with a crew of friends and then be like “Psych! Still here for another month!” My knee is feeling better every day (thanks, steroids! And physical therapy!). Anyway, if anyone has a time machine that’s capable of shoving me forward about three weeks, I’m willing to use it and not compensate you for the service (I’m not made of money).

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Comments 2

  • pearwood : Mar 16th

    Oh, joy. Hang in there.
    Blessings on your way,
    Steve / pearwood

  • Wolf of the Wind and Wood : Mar 18th

    You are focused on the trail, good. But you have down time right now. Focus on whats around you. Maybe thats the point. Maybe not. But just because one thing doesnt work out as you planned doesnt mean you should only be focused on what happens as soon as you can move. Good luck.


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