Walking with Fall

‌I didn’t really want to tear my rotator cuff, but if there is a silver lining in all this, it is that my rebuilt shoulder is a lot more like original equipment then the one that I’ve been walking around with for the last ten years or so. Was it middle school baseball practice? Lifting weights? Who knows?  So my thru hike has morphed into a series of three long ass section hikes. I had always planned to do my hike in three stages… Marion, Virginia to Harpers Ferry, Harpers Ferry to Katahdin, then Marion to Springer.  I’m pretty much walking the SOBO leg as originally scheduled, but the northern half will have to wait for next year.  On any journey as epic as an AT thru hike, there will be unexpected obstacles to deal with.  While this isn’t really the hike I had envisioned, it’s the one I get to hike. The daily grind of life on the trail is tough and when you are in the clutches of “the suck” it is easy to think about quitting, but here, after the trail has been denied me for four months, I know I want be out there again.

I’ve been walking around town to get ready. Since a trail buddy told me that trekking poles may be better for my shoulder than my usual walking stick, I picked up a pair and practiced walking with them. It has been so hot in Greensboro this summer that I’ve had to come to accept that if I don’t leave the house at 6:30 am, I’m not going to do much walking.  With my doctors blessing I started swimming. Greensboro has an incredible aquatic center and geezers swim for $2 between 9:00 and noon!  Swimming laps is a lot more anaerobic then my long walks and it feels like the perfect way to restore the strength and flexibility to my shoulder.

Lap swimming to restore strength and flexibility to my shoulder

Lap swimming to restore strength and flexibility to my shoulder

I’m writing this two days before leaving for Marion.  I’ve packed my pack dozens of times.  My food bag feels like a freakin’ anvil.  I’m twitching with anticipation.  In the spring, I added miles and celebrated every new hundreds digit.  Now I’m counting down the miles to Springer.  The moon will be full on Friday night.  I know that in the coming weeks the leaves will take on their glorious fall colors. I’ll be walking with fall all the way to Georgia!


Today I watched my grandson for last time for at least seven weeks. His brain is just exploding these days.  I put him down for his afternoon nap every afternoon which he takes in something that looks very much like a bag liner. As I carry him upstairs, I’ve always sung a little tune… Let’s put the baby in the bag… Let’s put the baby in the bag… He started to sing along this week!  Will I recognize him when I get back? Will he remember our little song?

He's learned to say beard too!

He’s learned to say beard too!



The sun peeking  through the trees just south of the Mt. Rogers Headquarters

I’m in Damascus after six days on the trail.  I’m experiencing first hand the healing powers of one of Crazy Joe’s burritos.  I took it easy and basically shelter hopped to here.  It wasn’t really surprising that my trail legs are gone, but I know they will come back with time.  I’m back to the beginning… Listening to my body and trying to not do too much.  It feels very strange to be so near where I started in March.  I have to say that I miss the nippy chill of early spring. I’ve been sweating like a pig!  The Grayson Highlands were as beautiful as promised.  I always get excited when the green tunnel gives way to open vistas.  Buzzard Rock might of been my favorite place although the gushing spring just north of there was thrilling to behold.


Selfie with the first white blaze I saw


First pony!

Highland Views

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Is there anything more beautiful than cool spring water gushing from the ground when you are really thirsty?

Is there anything more beautiful than cool spring water gushing from the ground when you are really thirsty?

I will take a zero here.  Damascus is a legendary trail town and I ought to experience all it has to offer (except Trail Days anyway). The trail goes right down Laurel Avenue.

466 miles to Springer!

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Comments 2

  • Jim McLean : Sep 21st


  • Katina : Sep 23rd

    Happy to see you out n the trail again. Good luck!


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