The Start and End of the Finger Lakes Trail

All right. Well. I’m just going to say it: this year was not exactly the year that hiking trips worked out for me.  Oh and three! That might actually be a record.

What am I up to now?

I’m writing this post from Burlington, Vermont, sleeping on my sister’s futon or in my car, watching a decent amount of New Girl, writing, reading and going on a few day hikes. It’s not exactly what I had down in the books — OK, not even close — but it has been a bit of a blessing in disguise. Since I already had time off of work, I put my nose to the grindstone and wrote 15,000 words in three weeks. I can’t guarantee they’re good words, but they’re words. Most of them. Some might just be frustrated noises.

Right, right, right, I skipped over some parts, let’s go back and revisit them. I talked about the Finger Lakes Trail a while ago, so what happened there?

I started in Allegheny

And though I planned to leave my house by 4pm that afternoon, my friend and I didn’t get out until 5:30. It wasn’t so much packing as it was cleaning in preparation for being gone for six weeks. I double checked my maps, sent off a couple last minute emails, and I still forgot a dish to eat out of and my spork. Needless to say, the first few days I had a messy time eating those refried beans, until I stayed in a shelter one night and found a plastic fork. I had a great couple meals with it, though within 24 hours it got squashed in my food bag and lost all its prongs. I used it as a tiny spoon and my meals were still delicious, they just took a little longer to eat (and people wonder why we call ourselves ‘hiker trash’).

But having or not having utensils in the grand scheme of things was trivial. The bigger problem was that I got rained on the first four days of the trail. The trail crisscrossed a lot of old logging roads and for a bunch of it, there were unavoidable puddles in high weeds. Then a mile or two later, more unavoidable swampy trail. And again and again. So you can imagine how wet my feet were.


Swampy, muddy, perfect for an infection.

I had a little nick in the side of my toe before I started hiking, and didn’t think anything of it (actually, I had forgotten it was there). Day two it started hurting. Day three it hurt a little more, but not even close to the worst pain I’ve felt on a trail. In other words, nothing I couldn’t manage.

Let’s jump ahead and then fast forward through the next part:

Pus. Opaque white/yellow pus. GROSS. I know, I know, sorry, I’M cringing as I’m writing this and I was the one with this shit oozing out of my foot — OH MY GOSH, there I go again, I’ll stop. At least I didn’t take any pictures. I had a town stop in the middle of this, but they didn’t have any antibiotic ointment. I spent two nights rinsing it with treated water and squeezing hand sanitizer on it. Irrigation, irrigation, irrigation! Not the greatest, but it was all I had.

It took more than some water and hand sanitizer, though, and I called my brother to come pick me up the morning of my sixth full day.

I went to Urgent Care that weekend, where the doctor was reassuringly very unconcerned. I ended up losing a chunk of skin, but I’m a couple weeks out and confidant everything is in good, working order. All toes: present and accounted for.

More than the infection

Unfortunately, other than that issue, my feet were pretty torn up from being that wet and took a while to heal. It was annoying but not detrimental to my foot, and other hikers probably could have holed up in a hotel on the trail for a few days to a week, but there were other factors about the trail didn’t real fire my motivation to get back out on this particular one. I’ll get to that and go through day by day in my next post.

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