How to stand on your feet. Literally.
I was laying on the couch in mid-January and was afraid of even thinking about thru-hiking CDT. That thought could force me to face the fact that despite all the preparation I may not be able to walk the first 84 miles to Lordsburg, not to mention from Mexico to Canada.
I was laying down on the same couch for nearly 3 months, barely moving further than the bathroom. For the first time in my life, I was unable to do sports, mountaineering, climbing, and biking. Part of me was taken away by another biker who carelessly hit me while overtaking me. I went under surgery, and doctors put many metal parts inside my leg. And I was about to start a challenging thru-hike in just 3 months.
I didn’t want to tell anybody how I felt, how much I am afraid that forced bailing of the CDT will be another cost of the accident. It was almost impossible at that point to imagine thru-hiking in such a near future.
When “no pain no gain” hit the new level
My first physiotherapist couldn’t even get the scale of walking 3200 miles. After just a few meetings, when I still wasn’t capable of standing, he decided that it is enough to have meetings every second week for just 30mins. And at that moment I knew that this will only make me walk to the nearest grocery store, not to Canada.
Arthur was recommended to me by my friend who is a professional athlete and who runs Iron Man. When I crawled into Arthur’s office and told him I’m going to cross the Rocky Mountains on foot in just 4 months he kept a poker face. And the hard work began.
Every single day I spent between one and three hours of exercise. Saying that they were boring is saying nothing. Hundreds, thousands of repeats of the very same small moves. Being used to having very active training with high blood pressure, simply bending my ankle was frustrating. Then I was trying to stand on both feet with no crutches. Leveling up on toes. More bending of the ankle. Thousands of times.
Every time I was bored or lazy there was only one thought that kept me motivated. I knew I will be way more sorry to be forced to bail the trail because of my foot than I’m frustrated to repeat the same exercise. And that motivation worked.
Parallely I had painful manual physiotherapy, working on my flexibility. The problem was that I have hypermobility in my joints. So one thing was getting back to regular mobility and bending but it was a completely different story to achieve what my body was previously able to do. And after weeks of what seemed to be very slow progress, Arthur took me to his gym and I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I will put my feet next to Crazy Cook Monument.
Keep it sane
It was hard to keep my mind sane. To achieve that from time to time we took a cab just for a few yards to our favorite cafe. Or I walk on crutches to the Christmas market that was just half a mile from our home (it took me an hour one way). And I lure almost all my friends to come and visit me.
I precisely remember when I was able to go alone for my first walk. 5 miles in the city forest. Man, that was an adventure! Even though I was almost crying from the pain and my ankle still wasn’t bending as it was supposed to, I was in the woods! No crutches! And wearing my old Altra Lone Peaks, coz no other shoes fit my swollen ankle.
Three days before the plane to Phoenix I told Arthur that if he would tell me that I’m not ready, I’m not going to listen to him. He had no doubts, though. He told me that hard (and boring) work definitely paid off. I got the green light from my surgeon as well.
Back on feet
Half a year after the surgery I started my thru-hike on CDT. Slowly at the beginning to give my foot time to adjust. Right now I’m 130 miles in and feeling as great as on my highest moments on PCT.
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Good luck on your CDT hike. Will be looking forward to reading your journal. David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77
What an inspiring story! I admire your optimism, determination and perseverance. Good luck on your journey on the CDT. I hope you are able to make it all the way to Canada.
Good luck! Maybe it would be a good idea to take your time,and dont go to many miles each day.looking forward to reading your storys about your adventure.
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