When the “Q” word rears its ugly head…


For me personally, the “Q” word is more of a fantasy than an option. Probably at least once a day, depending on the day, I, and other thruhikers I’ve talked to, have the thought drift through our minds: “I could just go home.”

Not that we would. Like I said, it is more of a I-say-this-but-wouldn’t-do-it type thing.

For me, there was only one time I seriously thought about quitting. Believe it or not, it wasn’t on Mt Washington when I was scared for my life; it wasn’t even on that miserable day in Vermont when I thought I was going to die of hypothermia. It was the second week of my hike when I was suffering through foot pain and questioning if I could live with the pain and keep hiking. Maybe my feet just aren’t cut out for a thruhike. It would have been a reasonable excuse. But I took a zero day, bought insoles for my boots, and got back on the Trail.

So I finished the northern half of the Trail. My feet never stopped hurting, but I learned to hike through it. Everyone else’s feet hurt, too, so it basically became a nonissue.

I spent about 10 days at home, my version of hitting the reset button before starting the southern half of the Trail. Yes, I needed it. Yes, I knew it was dangerous.

I hit the trail again and this entire week has been tough emotionally. I had gotten used to the comforts of home again. Now I am back to worrying about my elderly dogs everyday, hoping the next water source isn’t dry, going to the bathroom in the woods, and waking up to mice trying to crawl over me in the night.

Then my leg started to bother me, so I took a day to rest it, then hiked the next day. Only to have my leg complain again. This is when the “Q” word rears its ugly head: when a part of my body decides it doesn’t want to hike anymore and consequently I am in perpetual pain.

I hiked about 3 miles today to a point where I had cell phone service so that I could call my parents. It is good to know that even though I am 25, I can still call home crying because I don’t know what to do. I will go to a clinic tonight to hopefully get some help and will spend the next couple of days resting. Hence you get another blog post!

This morning, though, as I was hiking up a mountain to get phone service, the view opened up. It was gorgeous weather: sunny, breezy and 70 degrees. The rolling green peaks and the valleys were bathed half in sun and half in shade. The dramatic clouds left over from last night’s storm were still lined up on the horizon. And in that moment, I knew I couldn’t quit. There is still so much beauty to see in the four states I have left: Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. In that moment, I knew I wanted to see more.

So please keep the prayers and good thoughts coming as I try to figure out my rebellious leg!

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Comments 4

  • Jill Knox (Straps) : Aug 7th

    I got off at Roan Mt., not quite 400 miles, due to a fall on the rocks and an injured knee. But – I COULD have gone back.. but I didn’t. I was already behind schedule due to bad weather in the Smokies, etc. I quit.
    I have NEVER been more depressed in my life! LOL The only thing that has me going is my husband and other friends still on trail. I am living vicariously through them (and YOU) and plan to get back on trail next May where I dropped out this year.
    If your injury is severe and you can’t finish – don’t. Join ME next year – – lol.
    But if you can continue this year – do. I know the emotional trauma of getting off trail and staying off trail. 🙁

  • Ruth morley : Aug 7th

    I’m so sorry your leg hurts. But I feel you will get through this. I will be thinking of you and look forward to your next post.

  • Michael Sweet : Aug 10th

    Good words, Mary. I’m laying on a motel bed in Dubois, WY right now nursing an ankle and wondering if going home after 1000 SOBO miles on the CDT would just be the best thing. I DONT THINK SO!

    • Mary Meixner : Aug 12th

      Hope your ankle heals quickly so you can get back out there! Thanks for reading!


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