Hike Derailed by Knee Pain

ECT Day 191&192

IAT Day 22&23

Day 191: 6 miles

This morning we slept in until 5:30am and then began to get up and ready. Even walking down the road to the porta potty had by knee bothering me. I knew right away that I would be hiking to Amqui and spending at least the night there. I’m sure even the 6 miles to town are going to take a toll on my knee.

The sunrise over the lake by our IAT shelter.

We wound up taking our time and didn’t start walking until 8am. I was a bit sore but was able to keep the serious pain away. Every now and then I would step weird and get a shooting pain through my knee. This thing is killing me. It hurts so bad. And it’s driving me nuts that stretching and taping really isn’t helping. I think it’s just too far gone at this point. I need to “put the fire out”. Meaning I need to let the inflamed and irritated area actually get back to normal. The only way to do that is to rest. But I don’t want to do that! I just linked up with two other hikers, and now I’m seriously going to fall behind? I haven’t had to take a rest day for injury this entire journey.

The 6 miles to Amqui were a bit slow going. I fell behind but not too much. I wasn’t in pain per say, but my body is so damn sore. Other parts of my leg, hip, and knee are starting to feel tender. I know that what my body needs is rest.

Sparkle and Trucker walking the road into Amqui.

When we got into Amqui we went to a restaurant and motel first. But the restaurant isn’t serving breakfast anymore. So we just sat outside for a while instead. We wound up getting lattes there and spending an hour or so at the outdoor patio. I got wifi and did some writing. I’ve done a great job the last few days keeping up with my writing in the evenings. The routine feels good.

A latte from the motel/restaurant that we sat outside of for a while.

Around noon we left the patio and walked down the street to a gear shop. I didn’t need anything but decided to browse. In the end I wound up getting a new pair of spandex. I like to carry a pair and wear a pair. Recently I had to mend some holes in my current shorts so I figured I’d take the opportunity to presumptively buy a new pair. I can’t always find what I’m looking for when I really need it.

After leaving the gear shop we wound up getting lunch at subway. All of us housed our own foot long so quick. It was incredible. Then we walked a ways down the road to a grocery store to resupply.

The hotel that we’re staying at is a mile in the opposite direction. So we wanted to resupply first to save ourselves from having to do a mile there and a mile back. Although I am currently uncertain about whether I will be hiking tomorrow I still resupplied. Whenever I do hike out it’s going to be a 6 day food carry regardless. We are about to enter the Matane reserve. Once we do the next resupply won’t be for over 100 miles.

It was hard picking out food for such a long stretch. I had to try to pick things that excited, but also very calorically dense items. Which meant I wound up with a bunch of muffins, breads, pastries, and cookies. So much sugar. But personally that’s just the densest and lightest food that I would enjoy eating. I also got some spreadable cheese, crackers, chips and a few odds and ends.

Once I finished up inside I headed outside and packed everything away. I bought ziplocks so i repackaged all my breads and muffins. Then I managed to fit it all in my pack! It’s a hefty 6 days resupply for sure. But with my sore knee I’d rather be on the heavy side for food. If I’m doing shorter days it could take me closer to 7 days to get through the Matane refuge, into Gaspesie, to a point where I can hitch out to resupply.

When we were heading to the grocery store we had stopped at pharmacy first. I got more KT tape and some other goodies. On a whim I decided to buy a knee brace. It can’t hurt, that’s for sure. I put it on at the store and have been wearing it ever since. It’s not the solution to my problem necessarily but it definitely provided some relief. I haven’t been moving in ways which was previously irritating my knee and causing pain. So it’s helped to relax the area a bit.

I sat outside and waited for Sparkle and Trucker to finish up. Then we all walked the mile over to the motel. My knee felt good on the walk. It obviously didn’t feel all better, but I wasn’t getting sharp pains anymore. That was a win in my book. I’ll wear this damn brace for weeks if it actually helps the pain go away.

The IAT passed right through town so we followed the redline to our hotel room.

When we got to the hotel we checked right in. Then everyone showered up. I laid on the ground for a long time. It felt so good to stretch my leg out. My most comfortable position currently is laying down with my back propped against something. When my leg is out stretched it feels much better. I’ve definitely noticed a difference with the brace. That’s something.

Trying out the knee brace. It provided a bit of relief but I knew it wasn’t a real solution.

After I showered and washed my hair I talked on the phone with my dad. He was as worried about me as I am. Injury on trail is the worst case scenario. Even though I realize that the pain I’m feeling is surely only temporary. I know it likely requires taking a bit of time to rest and heal. And to me right now that’s the worst thing I could hear. I want to keep hiking with these awesome ECT hikers!

I know that everything happens for a reason. So now I’m just here wondering what the reason for this is. Everything aligned so well for me to link up with Sparkle and Trucker. Am I really about to be on my own again? It just doesn’t feel right. I guess I’ll just see how it all plays out. I know in the end I’ll understand why this all happened. But right now I’m just upset.

After talking on the phone we did laundry. Then I spent a long time in the room talking to Sparkle. She’s such a cool chick. It’s been so nice hiking with a girl. I only hiked with another girl for a day or two on the entire AT. Though I was blessed having 5 Pounds in my tramily on the Pinhoti. This is the longest time that I’ve hiked with a girl though in a long time.

Around 8pm we all wound up going downstairs for dinner. I got lasagna and Caesar salad which hit the spot. Then we retreated back to the room to relax. I told Sparkle and Trucker that if I woke up tomorrow feeling the same as today that I was going to have to zero. I wish it wasn’t the case. But continuing on in pain is stupid. In the end it will lead me to taking extra days off. I need to nip this in the bud while I can.

We wound up lounging in the room for the rest of the night. I was on the internet trying to research what exactly is causing my pain. And that’s when I came to such a wild realization. Last year before I got on the PCT I had the exact same pain. Somehow I totally forgot that I actually went to a doctor for it because I was getting so close to starting my thru hike. They said it was likely irritation to the medial plica, a portion of the inner knee. Back then all I did to heal it was rest and use a specific KT tape method. So I decided to give the tape a go and see what happened.

My knee is still quite irritated so I wasn’t expecting a miracle. But when I put the new KT tape on I truly did feel almost immediate relief. The sharp pain in my knee subsided and was replaced with a more dull discomfort and soreness. That seemed like a good sign to me! Maybe this is what I needed to do all along? I really hope so.

I stayed up late in the room because I knew that no matter what I was still going to take tomorrow off. Sadly Trucker and Sparkle are still going to hike out. It’s not fair to ask anyone to take time off for your own personal problem. Everyone has to hike their own hike. I just hope this pain goes away quickly and maybe I can catch back up.

Day 192: zero day

This morning I woke up around 6am and laid for a while. My knee felt so much less inflamed and irritated which was great. Standing up to walk to the bathroom I could tell I was feeling a lot better. Not 100%, but better. Today Sparkle and Trucker are going to hike back out and I’m going to spend the day resting. My hope is that taking a whole day to rest my body will make a huge difference.

Eventually I got up and walked over to McDonald’s with Sparkle and Trucker before they began road walking. They’re only doing 17 miles today which sounds so doable. But knowing how I’ve felt the last few days I knew it would be a mistake to try to do the same.

Walking through the drive thru at McDonald’s.

It was sad to say goodbye to them. But there’s still a chance that I could catch up. If I take today off and then am able to get back to regular mileage. Anything’s possible. I feel like I literally just started hiking with them though. And yet here I am, on my own once again.

I headed back to the hotel and renewed the room for tonight. Then I laid in bed for a while. At first I was sad but my mood quickly changed. I just have a really good feeling about what’s to come. Everything is going to work out. Soon enough it will make sense to me why everything played out the way that it did. I can feel that, and it gives me comfort.

I laid in bed in the room for a long time and rested my body. My knee feels way better. But overall my body is really sore. Later on I wound up taking a hot bath which felt good. Then I used a heat pack on my hip which is quite tight. My hips are definitely playing a role in all of this. The pain is very similar to the IT band pain I’ve gotten before. And for me it almost always stems from tightness in my hips.

After my bath I decided to walk down the street to grab some food. I got poutine and ice cream from a local place. It sure never gets easier ordering food here in Quebec. The menus are entirely in French and most people I’ve encountered know very little English. I’m definitely learning a bit but it is slow going.

Back at the room I ate and lounged some more. I also booked a consultation with Blaze, the thru hiking physical therapist who follows along the bubble on the PCT. I’m sure that she’ll have good tips for me as well as helpful exercises. She has saved my body time and time again.

My consultation with her was around 5pm and was so helpful. She narrowed in on the where my pain is and the likely causes. It was heartwarming to know that the tendon pain I was having would likely resolve quickly with rest and stretching. That’s how I fixed my IT band issues last year. She gave me a few exercises to do to help strengthen my hips. I’m happy to have more in my arsenal!  Every day for the last 190+ days I have done strengthening exercises at night and stretching during the day. That’s what I know works for me and my IT band problems personally.

So the idea that I could add a few more stretches and exercises in and hopefully resolve this pain too was comforting! I sure don’t mind taking the time to stretch and strengthen. Especially if it’s going to keep the pain away.

After we finished up the call I was feeling really good. I felt like I finally had the tools to treat this “ailment” while I continued on. Then I wound up calling my dad and talking for a while afterwards. Today I finally caught up with my blog posts and published my Katahdin summit day post. The response that I got from the people reading it filled me with so much joy. The comments were so kind and loving. What an incredible community. I sent some of the comments to my dad because I knew that they would make him happy too.

Then I walked down the street to grab a new water bottle and some other drinks. Tomorrow I’m planning to hopefully leave Amqui! I got back to the room and lounged in bed. Before calling it a night I did a big stretching routine, adding in the new exercises from Blaze. Then I hit the hay.

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Comments 6

  • John v : Sep 17th

    Right with you all the way one foot in front of the other

  • Janet Abbott aka Fancy Free : Sep 17th

    I wad driving through Houlton, Maine last week when I read your journal of that same place. I’ve been following you for some time. It was cool to actually see the SIAT.

  • Flash : Sep 17th

    I’m sending you positive energy for the days ahead. Everything happens for a reason. No matter what you will have hiking in your future. Take care and be safe!

  • Chris : Sep 18th

    Glad you’re taking a day to rest, and have been able to make your knee feel a bit better. Sending positive vibes your way for a speedy recovery!

  • Skirts : Sep 18th

    Making sound decisions. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  • John Sewell : Sep 18th

    Definitely a bummer about your pain Peg Leg. Having communication with the specialist, Blaze, is really awesome. I glad that she offered more tips to strengthen the weaknesses. Maybe you can continue. I do pray so.
    Would you briefly explain what trail you are following and your destination?

    Good luck!


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