Why I Went Home and Why I’m Back on Trail

Dear Internet Diary,

I’m on my way back to the AT. Did you know I left? Of course not, I never told you. Anyway, here’s the gist of what’s been going on: Went to Trail Days, then went to the Taylor Swift concert in New Jersey and had amazing seats because I’m God’s favorite. Did a little bit of hiking on the section of the trail up there, and then my friend that I was staying with got diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I had to go registered dietitian mode for a few days. When I got back on trail in the place I was supposed to be, I had a little bit of a crisis because I was still having insane pain in my ankles, the bubble of people I had been hiking with was now way ahead of me, and I had come to realize I had slowly been slipping back into some disordered eating habits that I thought I had dealt with. So my dad came from Cincinnati on Memorial Day and picked me up, and I went home for an about a week to kind of mentally reset. I feel like food-wise, I’m in a better place. I’m really big on intuitive eating, I fully believe that fully embracing it saved my life when it comes to my ED and food issues, and with my hiker hunger not kicking in for two months and even my boyfriend noticed that I was restricting on trail when he came to visit. Then I was trying to eat more than I was hungry for later to make up for it because I knew I needed calories, which was stressful after spending so long working on regaining my hunger and satiety cues after a decade of ignoring them. I want to thru-hike the AT, it’s been a goal of mine for years now, but there’s not much in life I want enough to jeopardize my recovery.

While I was home, I went to the podiatrist. I have PTTD (Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction) in both ankles, probably due to how flat my feet are, and that can lead to some nasty long-term issues, so I’m going to be pretty cautious. I was told to rest for a few weeks, stretch, ice, and take these really strong painkillers. I had been resting for a bit at that point, so I decided to still return to the trail today (6/8/23) as the swelling is completely down and they have felt okay for over a week now. I only have until mid-October for this endeavor, but I’m going to try to be nicer to myself and stop focusing on finishing. I’m just going to try to get as much done as I can, and if I need to finish it another year then that is what I do. There’s no rule that says I have to finish in six months so I don’t know why my brain chooses to take what should be a fun, voluntary experience and making it stressful. When you try to thru-hike a trail with a 70%+ failure rate, you have to be okay with failure, and I am, but I also don’t view it as a failure if I don’t finish. I still learned a lot about myself, made some awesome friends, have had an amazing backpacking trip, and overall had a really good time (even when I’m soaking wet and haven’t showered in a week). It’s starting to sound like I’m quitting, which I’m not. I’m just at peace with going home if it’s what’s best for me. However, I’ve never been to a lot of the northeastern US, so I’d like to get there just to at least explore a bit. Another thing I need to think about is money, and with my injuries I’ve had to stay in towns more than expected so far, so my budget took a hit and I’m going to have to be careful with my money from here on out. As I’m writing this, I’m also getting word that the ATC recommended not hiking north of Shenandoah for the time being due to the air quality from the Canadian fires, so hopefully that won’t be an issue by the time I get there.

I’m going to be jumping ahead on the trail a little bit so that I can be back with the people I enjoyed hiking with and am familiar with, so if I make it to Katahdin, I’ll have to come back down here and finish about 200 miles of southern Virginia. Even if I don’t, I’ll have to come just to go to Grayson Highlands. Before I sign off, just a quick shout out to my parents, Jon & Debbie, for being too supportive and willing to drop what they are doing to come get me and take me back to trail, sending me mail drops, answering my phones calls when I’m crying in the woods and just need to vent about how much it sucks sometimes. When I first came out here I was excited to do something by myself, but now I realize that I’m not doing this by myself. I’d be lost out here without them. I’m not sure how long my ankles will hang in there, and I don’t want to do any permanent damage, so I’m going to play this very cautiously. If I’m being honest, if they get to where they were before I left for Trail Days, there’s no way. I was putting all my weight on my trekking poles to the point where my hands were bruising, it was taking me eight hours to go 11 miles, and it wasn’t fun anymore at all. Worst case scenario, I’m a LASHer, and the trail will be here next year and the year after that and 50 years from now. I’m just stubborn and really want to get it all done now. But hey, in that worst case scenario I get to go back to Yellowstone earlier, so I’m going to try to look at the bright side.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • Grandpa Hodag : Jun 9th

    Good post. Hope you heal well. Godspeed north.

  • thetentman : Jun 9th

    I wish you luck with the resumption of the hike.

    My advice is to think less and hike more. Sounds easy. It is not.

    Good luck.


What Do You Think?