Could it be the end? We will have to wait and see.

I have arrived at Paradise Valley Cafe! I’m done..Or am I?

I’ve thought about this next blog and what I’d write in it for this last week that I have been off trail. Do I write some of the personal stuff that happened to my body? Do I want to share EVERYTHING? Well F’yeah…..Of course I do. So I’ll share, and then I’ll let you know what I’m thinking of doing at the end, okay? I am going to try to make this blog shorter than my others and just get to the point, let’s go!

EDIT: It was not shorter, and it was not to the point…I am who I am, smile🦋

The breakdown of the breakdown-My body and what I now know of as my limitations.

Day 4 on the PCT and I hit my first 20 mile day! Or did I? It wasn’t without the help of a Medrol dose pack. You see, I had already started having back problems from day 1 on the PCT. But surely only carrying 19.6 lbs total pack weight (I cannot accommodate a large water carry ) would be fine. I just needed to adjust my pack more, move things around more. Shift and distribute the weight around as to not have the pack sitting on the titanium cages and screws in my lower spine. I had decided that I would take my first Zero on day 3 at home in San Diego. A zero is a no mile day for those that don’t know the lingo.

Now I’ve restarted another beast that is still present 3 weeks later

Getting Back on trail after that zero was exciting for me. I was on my Prednisone and was about to conquer the mountains. This was my 20 mile day. I felt the pain shooting down my spine and left leg even with meds on board but I couldn’t be bothered with all that, just power through like I always have in everything I have ever done in my life.  Pain? What pain? Pain is to be put in little compartments in a room far away that I could deal with at a later time.
I let the load lifter straps all the way out as well as the shoulder straps. I let the waist straps all the way out. I carried my pack so low, I was like a cool teenager in high school with my pack sagging down to the bottom of my butt so as to try to put all of the weight on my shoulders. I did this for miles. I then shifted the weight back up again and fixed all of the straps and cinched the waist straps so tight so that it was right under my rib cage just so it was above my titanium, because I was outsmarting the process you see. I was going to make this work because for sure I wasn’t going to be one of the hikers that quit before hitting 100 miles! 
I hit my 20 for the day then set up my tent for the night. I was washing up my feet and my body and discovered that something was injured, I thought, because something was bleeding.  Sorry for this next part and the TMI but, the next morning I had realized I started my cycle. This wasn’t good, you see, My GYN and I stopped this from happening 3 months before with contraceptive pills. I have anemia and was getting frequent iron infusions so we needed to stop my cycle after a biopsy revealed I had a large hard wall mass on my ovaries and a large fibroid and large cyst. The plan was that when I finished the PCT I would have a robotic total hysterectomy in October this year. My Medrol dose pack restarted my cycle as is a side effect of that drug (I didn’t know it could do that, and my GYN didn’t know that my back doc was going to write me 2 Rx’s for pain management) So here I was with 2 problems I was going to persevere through. Right? 


I came back home, took  3 Zeros this time because I was going to fix myself. I took an Epson salt bath each day, I went to REI and bought some Superfeet insoles that are popular on trail. I thought of everything. Went back out on trail and hit my 100 miles!

It was between there and the next couple days on trail that I had intense cramps and started having really bad diarrhea. I stopped hiking and laid inside of a boulder crevice with my umbrella hitched to protect me from the extreme heat as I tried to drink my electrolyte fluids and eat some chips. I couldn’t eat. The fluid wasn’t enough for me as I hated at that very moment having to squeeze that warm liquid out of my Sawyer filter. I hated that boulder, I hated my pack, I hated my stupid self for not staying home when I knew I should have. I knew I could return to the trail later or modify the miles to my ability but I didn’t know what my actual ability was now. I was new to the challenges of my new back for this long on trail. 
I knew it worked in the Sierras last year 8 months after trying it out. This was different though. My body gave up. It just quit on me. It’s never quit on me like this. It’s gotten tired and it’s gotten weak. It never just stopped and said no more. It always let me keep pushing it just enough. I didn’t understand why it couldn’t just get me through this one last time as it has so many times before. 

Before I called it, I thought about all the different ways I could try to make this work. None were in the best interest of my health. I got a cell signal, called home and said I’d be finishing up at Paradise Valley Cafe. I said from the beginning of my thru hike, that the only way I’d stop would be if there was a physical challenge. There were many now. None that I could work around. I was dehydrated and needed fluids and I needed to get on something for whatever bug I picked up.

That bug was Giardia. I started on Metronidazole the day after getting off trail. I am still on my period and have to see my doc for a follow up and see where we go from here. 

I am resting, taking it easy, taking care of myself. I even bought the book Wild as I never read it before. I had my own reasons I was doing this. I do get inspired by other people, sure, but I don’t make a huge life decision based on someone else’s. I’ve never actually understood why other people do that, either. 

Am I going back on trail? Probably. And I would probably start at the Oregon border if I do. I wanted to start at the Southern Terminus and finish at the Northern Terminus. Now I want to do what my body is physically capable of doing. I have to learn what that is for the next month or 2. I never thought a day would come where my body would so blatantly tell me… “Stop, you’ve endured enough, stop punishing yourself” You are okay as you are. 




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Comments 2

  • Joyce : May 11th

    Oh my. Yes, that is multiple physical issues. On top of other physical issues.
    You made the right choice to pause this for now. Deal with said issues, rebalance your mind, body and soul and then move forward as you feel is right.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you and I hope you feel better soon.
    I love reading your vlog entries.

  • Jackie Cipriani : May 11th


    WOWSA! Too much bad shi*!

    You honestly need all the stars in the universe to be aligned to be able to tackle PCT.

    You definitely have the strong mental capacity to complete this beast; but no way could you ignore your monster health challenges.

    I have zero doubts you’ll be back trekking on PCT and sharing your JOY with your fellow trail friends and trail angels!

    Your time on PCT was Amazing! Awesome Awesomeness!

    Love your blog PCT Joy!! Thanks for sharing
    ( and reminding me I wouldn’t last a day on PCT, even in perfect conditions!)


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