Don’t Hate Me!

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Turns out I did tear my rotator cuff last August.  The cortisone injections got me through Maine, but it started to act up in December.  After trying physical therapy for a while, I realized that one particular move was always going to give me problems.  I had an MRI and they found a 100% tear of the supraspinatus muscle.  Surgery was in early March and today I finally got to toss my sling.  Physical therapy continues into June.  My shoulder has been repaired; now I have to make it work again.

This is my second rotator cuff repair.  My thru-hike turned into a section hike when I tore the rotator cuff of my right shoulder falling down the stairs at home after hiking 540 miles in Virginia.  I don’t think I have to tell anyone that no one wants to go through this twice, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad this time.

Don’t Hate Me!

Anybody on the trail is going to fall down.  When I’ve fallen, I’ve always been able to get up, but this injury has me feeling fragile.  Recovery from an injury like this has two parts.  There’s the physical recovery.  The doctor repairs it, the physical therapist makes it work again.  There’s a mental component of it too.  My shoulder failed me.  Can I learn to trust it again?  Can I risk falling without having the faith that I will be able to get up again?  At this point, Claudia (my PT) is making my shoulder work again and as it gets closer to working as it used to, my faith in it is being renewed.

Ice! My favorite part of rehab.

When you’re in Medicare, you have to fill out a questionnaire  when you go to the doctor.  It’s all about falls. Have you ever had a fall that resulted in injury?  Well, now it’s happened twice.  While this remains my only positive response on the survey, is this the beginning of the end? While the thought of facing more AT lumpy bits this summer fills me with dread, I’m not ready to say goodbye to backpacking yet.  Inertia plays a part. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to remain at rest.  At 68, I don’t think I can take a year off and expect to seamlessly go back to the trail.

Looking Forward

I wrote last September that I felt like the trail I loved had turned abusive and I felt I should find a trail that will treat me like I deserve to be treated.  While I’ve walked over 2,000 mile of the Appalachian Trail, there are plenty of slippery rocks left in the 105 miles that remain.  I’ve decided that, for now anyway, I’m not going to finish the Appalachian Trail.  Not saying I’ll never finish it, but right now my head isn’t in the right place.

 

Lumpy bits!

It could very well be that these feelings are a natural part of my recovery.  My shoulder is fixed but it doesn’t work very well yet.  The right shoulder, fixed in 2016, is fine.  I’m sure the left one will be good as new in a couple of months.

Colorado, Here I Come

So toward the end of July, I’ll be heading to Denver to walk the Colorado Trail!  I am curious how I will handle the altitude, but I know I got the databook in the mail today.  I’m not really planning to hike the whole thing, but I like the idea of hiking from Denver to Silverton and taking the narrow gauge railroad to Durango.  The bit of trail on the cover of the databook looks remarkably free of lumpy bits!

Homework for my next adventure.

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Comments 7

  • TBR : May 8th

    Good decision.

    People shouldn’t turn finishing the AT into their bête noire or make it a second shadow that follows them around, everywhere they go.

    It’s a hiking adventure, not a dissertation.

    Reply
  • Dennis Pence : May 9th

    Your decision makes good sense. It is about being out, experiencing nature, not being consumed by a goal to hike a particular trail. I am 69, and can completely relate to all you say. Good luck on your Colorado hike, sounds like a great choice.

    Reply
  • Iron Lady : May 9th

    I fell two years ago when I went to finish the final 270 miles of the PCT, and ended with the exact same injury as you. Since I was determined to finish that trail, I was backpacking 4 months after surgery in preparation for going back to the PCT. Since then, I’ve covered about 1000 miles, including that final 270 miles, the Tahoe Rim Trail, and so far about half of the Arizona Trail. Hang in there, you’ll be good as new before you know it, and good luck on the Colorado Trail, it’s on my schedule for next year!
    BTW, I did find that changing out my shoes (and always hiking with poles of course) cut down my trips/falls considerably.

    Reply
  • Nanook (trail name) : May 9th

    Hi George,
    I wanted to “thank you” for sharing your experiences from the perspective of an older hiker!
    When I informed my employer yesterday that I will be leaving in two weeks to bicycle from St. Louis to Rutland,Vt to continue my SOBO AT hike, their only question was why? I’m 62.
    “Because I can!” was the best, most sincere response I could come up with. Lately, I’ve seem a younger family member come down with a terminal disease, a few co workers having hip and joint replacements and various other ailments.
    Doesn’t matter which trail you are on just as long as it is filling that secret desire that burns inside you. Besides, if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger!🤪
    Hope to meet you some day on ANY trail.
    Be well,
    Nanook

    Reply
  • Robin Rabun TJ69 : May 15th

    Hi George. Saw your Colorado Trail post on the TJ Reunion page. Thought I’d mention that I have lived in Colorado (Colorado Springs) for 44 years, have hiked sections of the trail, never through, but familiar with a lot of the areas. My husband and I are old (and getting older) backpackers and love to support other hikers. We already have a couple of camping trips planned near trail crossings this summer. Once you firm up your plans we would be happy to see if we would be near to offer trail resupply or section shuttles. Yep, the altitude kicks your butt the older you get and I’ve lived at altitude for all these years. Hike it now! I definitely can’t hike the speed I did 5 years ago. And distances covered each day seem to get shorter! Starting in Denver would give you a “little” chance to acclimate. It’s a great trail. I’m staring at my copies of the Databook and Guidebook on our bookshelf and feeling very envious of your upcoming trek.

    Reply
  • boxnovel : Oct 1st

    The share of your winter holidays is quite fascinating. Wish you have a happy winter holiday.
    boxnovel

    Reply
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    Reply

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