Thirteen months ago today I was working on getting everything together for my departure on the Appalachian Trail from Harpers Ferry on April 29. Yesterday I spent a day feeling sorry for myself for making the right decision.
Today we start working on next steps.
Have an opportunity over the next thirteen months (likely actually seventeen months since hiking south in the summer makes no sense to my Canadian blood stream) to improve everything about my hike.
Now I am certain if you asked a few of my hiking companions, they would say I carry too much and I walk too slow. And you know that is worthy of looking at.
I hiked the speed I needed and I am not certain if an aim to go faster is really important for me. I got a chance to see and enjoy a number of small moments that might have been missed. But you know if I wanted to make it to Georgia in 2017 the weekend before American Thanksgiving covering more miles in days with less sunlight would be a good aim.
Other point is my gear. I have never carried more than 1/5 of my weight. Thing is I weigh over 230lbs and started my hike last year at 270lbs. So my pack has always seemed incredibly heavy to the folk who were half my weight who would pick it up on occasion. BUT heck I need to remember, when I started it seemed incredibly heavy to me as well. (I would choose not to take it off during rest stops since putting it back on took way more energy than I felt I had.) Doing training hikes with 25lbs had become second nature to me before I left, nearly doubling that weight to start likely wasn't the smartest move. So building up to training hikes with more approximate weight closer to departure date makes sense as does bringing down the weight. Working out an idea of what is essential, what would be nice and what could stay behind will also be part of this blog as I continue it.
'We' could dissect my gear. I don't have unlimited funds for different choices and I do rather like a number of them otherwise they would never have made it home from the Trail. But looking at them with a critical eye wouldn't be a bad choice. One of the points to keep in mind if you are going to make recommendations is that I am a plus sized hiker. There are more limited gear choices available for any plus sized hiker/sports minded folk and even less so when she is female.
So I have a few more adventures on the horizon, after the healing, which I am also planning on cataloguing here if you stick around.
This post has been a long time coming as I have mulled over coming to terms with the decision for the last ten days.
Wow, even sitting down to write is making me strangely sad.
A wise friend as we were driving off on an adventure wondered at the wisdom of sticking with the date of August 25th, 2016 to head back on the Trail. You see, the leg that I had injured back in August in Maine on the Trail is still not healed. It is now under much more active treatment after seven cycles of infections and antibiotics. I get to see a very kind community care nurse every three days or so at the hospital as she changes the bandage and rewraps it in a full lower leg bandage. I am allowed some walking but no real hiking and definitely no over night camping until I finally heal that wound. The hoped for date is sometime in May
I had been stressing about how I could heal and then crunch the six months of training I have missed into the remaining three. I had already worked out the imaginary schedule for the 1060 mile hike, where mail drops should be and had started wondering about putting together the boxes. I was in a tizzy as I was reaching a point of making commitments to others who wanted to join for sections and not knowing if my body would measure up.
So much of long distance hiking is mental. Once you figure out the “step, breathe, repeat” part of it and your body gains the strength needed it is the head that will keep you going day to day. And for once my head though certain that miles could be covered wasn’t certain of the sense of going ahead.
A decision has been made.
I want to be healthy for the rest of the Trail. I want to recover that strong capable body (even if I go at my slow steady pace). I know I can do it. So my family and friends get to deal with my rather nomadic lifestyle for another year as I put off completing the Trail until 2017.
I will heal.
I will do a few week long hikes this Fall hopefully with friends and look forward to completing a few miles on the Appalachian Trail.
I am hoping I haven’t disappointed anyone too much. Much like the hard decision last Fall to get off the Trail due to the growing infection, this is the right choice for me right now.
This is not the end. There are more blazes ahead. Finding them will just take a little longer.