The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Sigh, I’m still not back on trail. Buttermeister (aka Chris) went back on the AT after dropping me off at home and is making great progress, nearing the 700 mile mark (the hiker statistics at the top of this post are for Chris only). Meanwhile I sit at home and wait for definitive news about my knee.

I’ve had an X-ray and MRI that show arthritis. So that means I can go back on the trail asap, right? Nope. My primary care doctor wants me to see an orthopedic and, of course, getting an appointment has been a big hassle.

What does a thru-hiker do while they wait to get back on the trail? Buy new gear, of course! When we arrived home, I weighed my pack (with just one day’s worth of food, snacks, and less than a liter of water) and it registered at just over 29 lbs. Keeping with the 20% of your body weight rule, some serious weight trimming seemed prudent.

Trading out my cold weather clothing helped. My current 15 degree sleeping bag was overkill for late spring & summer so nabbed a much lighter 30 degree bag during REI’s anniversary sale. Got a lighter sleeping pad and am trying out some new shoes while I’m home. Bug nets seem like a good idea as the mosquitos and no-see-ums will become an even bigger problem as summer approaches. And I finally got a hiking skirt after a trail buddy raved about hers and I absolutely love all the pockets.

The Agony of The Feet

Resting at home also allows me time to address my battered feet. For the past 2 months, leukotape has been my best friend. Calluses, a touch of athlete’s foot, two blackened toenails and a few minor blisters due to hammer toes round out the list of foot ailments. Honestly, does any thru-hiker avoid foot problems altogether?

The Upside

Our younger son, Alex, has been housesitting for us and I’m loving being here with him, especially since he cooks. He’s been living in Texas for nearly 3 years so having him here to hug is a great bonus. Catching up with close friends has been terrific — some anticipated major life transitions giving us cause to celebrate! I was even able to attend a memorial service for a friend that died earlier this year just shy of her 100th birthday.

My overgrown mop was trimmed and I’m enjoying my summer-hiker cut. I was able to get a last-minute appointment with Wigglebutt’s groomer so he is much cooler (and cuter) now.

How Can It Be Thirty Years?

On Memorial Day weekend, I picked Chris up at a road crossing so we could spend our 30th wedding anniversary together. It was a wonderful weekend — just chilling, eating good food, and spending time together. The hard part was dropping him back off on the trail and driving home alone.

After not hiking for over 2 weeks now, my knee swelling has subsided and the pain diminished so much that I’m tempted to just buy a brace and get back on the trail ASAP. My hiker-fitness diminishes every day and I’m sure that I’ll slow Chris down — the question is, how much?


What would you do?

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Comments 1

  • Dottie Rust : Jun 2nd

    I had to have total knee replacement 4/2021. Worked very hard in PT, began small hikes & by August was strong enough to carry backpack & hike. Continue to stretch, strength-train, swim & bike to this day to keep my new knee working.

    I’m 66, excellent health, athletic. Arthritis sucks, the bone-on- one pain was horrible. New knee much better.

    Good luck with your decision,
    Dottie “.com” Rust


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