Day 96

I slackpacked today.

I’ve been benched for a week with a low back/SI injury.

Today was my first attempt to cover any miles in a week.

Thru-hiking is strange. Sitting around a comfy hostel all day drives me crazy. All I can focus on is the miles I’m missing.

So I was over-the-moon excited to successfully hike twelve miles today.

I got up early and helped myself to the freshly brewed, home-roasted coffee on the front porch and watched what remained of the sunrise from the rocking chair.

Some other guests, Phoenix Rising and Humpty-Dumpty were already there, and we enjoyed a quick chat before Neville came out and rang the breakfast triangle.

After participating in our daily gratitude circle, I polished off two heaping helpings of farm fresh eggs, salad straight from the ground, homemade bread, fresh fruit, and homemade yogurt, and I picked up my little bag and filled my water bottles.

Anxious about the back pain I knew I was in for, I procrastinated setting out but needed to know if my body could handle the hiking with a lighter pack.

Taking a deep breath, I finally pulled on the light pack, grabbed my sticks, and committed to a twelve mile, mostly downhill hike, telling myself it was just pain. My back is going to hurt whether I’m lying in a hammock or hiking the trail, so I might as well knock out some miles.

Off I went.

Almost immediately, I ran into Someday and Neon, folks I hadn’t seen since the NOC.

It’s indescribable, the feeling you get when you run into someone on the trail after so long. They both looked healthy and happy and were just plugging right along; immediately I felt a dissipation of the loneliness and isolation I hadn’t realize was weighing on me.

At this point—the beginning of July—all of us down here south of Harper’s Ferry are facing the very real possibility of flip-flopping, but we chatted brightly about each of our plans going forward, and caught each other up on what’s been happening since we last were together.

And then on I walked.

Once again, the trail provided.

From this magical hostel, I had a perfect 12 mile downhill walk to test out my back.

The day flew by. “Euphoric” is the best way I can describe my mood about halfway through the day. Yes, my lower back burned and sharp pains made me stop and stretch several times, but I was managing it.

And this means I won’t lose a full ten days of miles. So long as I can find ways to slackpack, I can hike while I wait for my steroid injections. And I can live with that because it means I’m not done yet—I still have a shot at finishing.

Tree Hugger is still in this.

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Comments 1

  • Jim Gradine : Jul 11th

    Tree Hugger, I’ve been following you since I met you on my Section Hike from Clingmans Dome to Hot Springs. You Go Girl!! You’ve got this.


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