Saturday, August 25, 2012

First week back after PF

Saturday, August 25 - in Waynesboro, Va - at mile marker 856 on the AT.

After about two months of rehab and recovery from my bout with Plantar Fasciitis, I returned to the trail last Friday where I dropped off - Glasgow, Va.  Kevin drove me to the trailhead and dropped me off where the James River footbridge met US 501.  Thanks to Kevin, Crystal, and the kids Robert and Jez for putting up with me while I nursed my foot.

After almost two months layoff, I found out quickly just how out of trail shape I had become in that short period of time.  The first 3 miles were a pretty steep steady climb that had my thighs burning and my lungs panting for air.  After the first climb, there were two more peaks to get over before reaching the next shelter at mile marker 789 - Punchbowl Shelter.  I had seen several day-hikers during the day, but I spent the night alone as there were no other hikers staying there.  Needless to say, I was pretty much spent and slept soundly the night through.

The next day was another 10 miler, but mostly ridge-running ups and downs to the next shelter, Brown Mountain Creek Shelter, at mile 799.  Somewhere along the way, I past the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest for the 7th time on the AT.

Just these two 10 mile days seemed to wipe me out and I had little energy the next morning.  So, for the first time during my trip, I simply stayed put at a shelter and spent the day doing gear adjustments, resting, and reading a book that was left there by a previous hiker.

Now fully rested, I did a big day on Monday, - a full 16 miles on to Seeley-Woodworth Shelter.  Blisters!  Blisters on both heels.  BUT, there's still no sign of a return of the Plantar Fasciitis.  So, I can deal with the blisters.

On Tuesday, I did another big day, 15 miles, and climbed one of the steeper peaks on the trail - over the "Priest Mtn" up to 4000 feet.  It's a good thing I was going north, because the southbound trail over the Priest was even steeper.  Water was scarce along the way and I got a little dehydrated, nursing my water bottles till I got to the Paul Wolfe Shelter.

This was one of the best shelters and campsites I have seen - enough for dozens of campers, boy scouts/discovery groups and such.  I met three girls from UVA who were out for a weekend hike - and a retired aerospace engineer who proceeded to clean everyone's stove burners.  He liked to fix things.

Finally it was a short day into the wonderful little town of Waynesboro, Va where I have spent the past two days.  It's a great town that I want to return someday for sure.

As I type this, I am waiting for my new hiking companion, Castaway, to wake up after a night of partying with the two Belgian boys that came in yesterday.  We are headed back to the trail to get through the Shenandoahs.  I am looking forward to the next 120 miles.  Maybe I can get some good pictures of some bears along the way.

So, back on the trail - all is well.  My blisters still hurt, but I can deal with that.  Thanks for keeping up with my adventure - more later when I get to another computer at a town up the trail.

Happy Trails!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On the trail again....tomorrow.

Well, yesterday and today have been devoted to packing up the clothes and stuff that I have been using for the past two months.  I will finish this afternoon, taking stuff back to the storage unit where I have all my household goods.  Spare hiking gear and other essentials will stay with Susan in case I need them shipped to me. 

I have taken care of a lot of little things - car inspection, registration renewal, driver's license renewal, voter registration change of address, etc.  It's all gone pretty smoothly, but it does take time.

Early in the morning, Kevin (my son) and I will head for Glasgow to drop me off at the trail crossing and then off I go.

It's been a strange two months -

  • being forced off the trail by injury was depressing - I missed the trail very much in those first couple of weeks.  It's eased off, but I still remember how much fun I had out there and am looking forward to returning.
  • The Plantar Fasciitis was a new medical term for me.  Just something else to learn about.  I did aggressively treat the injury - more so than others might have been able to - stretching, icing, massage.  Then there was the cortizone shot and the prescription NSAIDS, the therapeutic massage, followed by the SAIDs.  It seems to have worked, causing me to recover faster than others with the same injury.
  • I appreciate the support of family and friends during my stay - Kevin and Crystal, Robert and Jez have been wonderful to let me stay with them.  Others have been so encouraging while I push through this setback.  I am grateful for all.
  • I was saddened to hear of the loss of a couple of friends while I was here - Van and Jack, both long-time Red Cross volunteers.  And a good radio friend lost his wife quite suddenly.  All reminders that there is life, love, and loss everyday even while I am isolated away on the trail (mentally and physically).
And now it's time to get back out there and try again.  I've explained the plan already, so there's no reason to repeat myself - again.

It will be a week or more before I can update this blog, but when I do a lot of questions will be answered.  I will be in touch as soon as I can.

Happy trails,

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the trail again......Thursday - no, Friday

Here we go again - I am headed for the trail on Thursday to give it another try.

I have accomplished what might be considered a minor miracle - in two months of aggressive treatment, my plantar fasciitis is pretty much gone or under control.  After the horror stories I heard about it taking others 6 months or 2 years to recover from a bout of PF, to take only 8 weeks is pretty fantastic.  That's not to say it won't come back, but I won't know till I get out there.

Here's the plan:  I will travel to Glasgow, Va. on Thursday, August 16th, and get back on the trail at mile marker 779.  From there I will hike north to Harper's Ferry.  That's a distance of 238 miles.  Assuming I don't have a relapse of the PF, then I will travel north to Maine, climb Mt Katahdin and hike southbound back to Harper's Ferry.

It's doable - there's still time for decent weather all the way - so let's give it a go.  If this works, I can still accomplish my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail in one season.

Now to repack and get ready.

Thanks for all the good wishes and positive thoughts - keep them coming.

Happy trails!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Better day

Went hiking again today - at the Eno River State Park north of Durham. Did a little more than 4 miles - feet felt a lot better today, it's the rest of me that is sore from yesterday - a good sore. I am going to keep working the kinks out and see how it goes - I AM NOT DONE YET!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The word for the day is......&#$%

Second day - the word for today is frustrating .....or pissed-off ....or unsure .....or OUCH  - okay so that's several words of the day.

After yesterday's easy hike without too much discomfort, I kicked it up a big notch by going to Hanging Rock State Park.  There's a 4.2 mile loop trail that goes to the top of the ridge and an old fire tower.  The trail starts off easy for the first mile or so, then starts up the mountain to the ridge line.  There's lots of rocks, gravel, and tree roots.  Once the climb starts the elevation change is probably 800 feet over the last 1.5 miles.  At some sections it's fairly steep climbing. 

I wasn't really surprised that I had lost my hiking trim so quickly after coasting for the past 6 weeks.  The legs were sore and the knees got to aching, but what I was there for was to test the feet.  Ouch!  It took only an hour for the pain in my left foot (heel) to start up.  That was the Plantar Fasciitis resurfacing.  Then the right foot started acting up - that was the Morton's Neuroma starting to burn.  I made it through to the end, but all I can think is if it starts to hurt like this after only a couple of miles, what would it be like after a 15 mile day?  Or several days? 

I iced it down when I got back to the house and will stretch and massage it again before bed, but in the vernacular - WTH???

I am going to give it one more day, a long one, and see for sure.  If it starts hurting to where I start to limp, I will have to consider myself done for the season. 

So there it is, straight up.  I'm going to go have some MM-46 the same way.