Tomorrow I’m off for another adventure; maybe third time’s a charm? My last two attempts to successfully complete a long-distance hike failed miserably. I’ve been plagued with injuries and the most miserable weather.
What was supposed to be an Appalachian Trail thru-hike ended before I even got out of Georgia; thanks to a fall, an ill-fated stumble, and ultimately a broken heel. It snowed, to the likes of which Georgia hardly ever sees. There was ice, which created quite a challenging bit of trail negotiation. Then there was the rain. As if there weren’t enough unfortunate elements, it rained and then it warmed up to create a trail full of mucky, shoe-sucking mud. It was that mud, that lead to my demise; and forced me to hike 10 miles, injured and miserable, to the nearest road for a quick exit.
I returned home, defeated, to recover whilst sitting on my couch; packing on pounds and turning to a lump of mush.
Then refusing to give in to defeat, I returned to the trail; although my goal of completing a thru-hike was thrown into oblivion. I’ve now started to scheme to achieve something substantial, although not nearly as big as an AT thru-hike. This second attempt was to be a relatively decent section hike to try to strengthen up my foot and body to prepare for a ‘next best thing’ adventure. My friend and I were to hike a 120 mile section of the Appalachian Trail through Virginia. This too, turned into a wretched endeavor. It did nothing but rain and we experienced some unseasonably cold weather; seeming that the AT had other plans for me than to actually have a gratifying experience. In addition to this, my feet also had their own fit of rebellion. I experienced excruciating pain in both of my feet after only about a week and 60 miles.
I returned home again; thwarted. I sought the expertise of a trusted New Jersey podiatrist to determine what was causing me such torment, only to find out some terrible truths: I had another broken bone in my foot that healed badly and now is arthritic; I have a heel spur, most likely induced by my thru-hike attempt injury; and I also have Morton’s Neuroma in both feet, which is the source of the unendurable pain that I was having in the balls of my feet.
I’ve spent the past three weeks receiving intense treatment and also have had a set of custom orthopedic inserts made to wear in my hiking shoes. After long contemplation (and encouraging words from my doctor), I’ve decided to go ahead with my next trip; a 200 mile hike of sections of both the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and John Muir Trail (JMT). I started planning this trip after my return from my first AT hike and before my Virginia hike. I’m hoping that this too, won’t be a gloomy failure, especially since I’ll be thrown into a vast wilderness, none like what the AT has to offer.
Although, I’m somewhat apprehensive about my foot issues and the potential for high-altitude sickness, I’m getting on that airplane tomorrow, trying to have a positive attitude. I’ll see some of the most magnificent vistas that can be seen nowhere else and chances are, since we’ll be in southern/central California, rain will be unlikely. I have sunshine, mountains, fresh air, and freedom to look forward to.
If I don’t at least attempt to do this, I will regret it and will question my resolve for probably all eternity. Even if I do have to cut the trip short…again…at least I’ll know for sure that I probably will have to retire from my extremely short occupation of long-distance hiking and stick to day hiking.
One thing is for sure…it will be an adventure, so here goes nothing.