I won’t go into all the details of what I spent my long break from the trail doing, but I will talk about the things I did to try and help my feet heal a little bit and how I felt about being away from the trail.
The first needs I had filled when I left the trail was getting sleep and seeing my family and boyfriend. I didn’t set an alarm when I was home, with the goal of letting my body sleep as much as it needed to. Of course, I still woke up close to the time I get up on trail because I am not usually one to sleep in. I got to see my boyfriend everyday which was very nice and I spent as much time as I could with my parents and dogs. I even got to see my brother, sister in law and nephew one evening which was so nice.
The next thing I focused on while I was home was resting my feet and figuring out what I could do to help them. I think the best thing I did was take a solid eight and a half days off of zero hiking. I did consider walking everyday to get some active rest in, but ultimately I was just too lazy. Miraculously I was able to see a foot and ankle doctor on a same day appointment on Monday. The doctor prescribed me a week of steroids, some special foot cream I have to get mailed to me, a kind of high dose ibuprofen (Duexis), and gave one foot a steroid injection. He told me what I expected, that my feet will never really heal or stop hurting until I’m finished. Even though it’s not ideal nor painless, I plan on walking to Maine regardless. I’m hoping this week will help the inflammation subside enough to continue on the last 1000+ miles. I plan on using the meds when I need them rather than holding off. The first three days of rest my feet were incredibly inflamed, the way they usually are on a zero day. My sandals left marks on my feet from digging into my skin. I used a sort of compression sock when I slept that did make a difference when my feet were swollen so large. After the third day the inflammation seemed to begin to decrease. By the fifth day I almost didn’t recognize my feet because they began to look like they did before I started hiking. Some other things I did on my break was continue my stretching routine, as the doctor recommended (although probably not as much as I should have). I’m less motivated to stretch multiple times per day, if at all, when I’m not hiking all day long. I also started using CBD lotion and massage it as best as I can into the most painful spots on the bottoms of my feet. It does provide some temporary relief for me. The doctor could only give me a shot in one foot due to insurance reasons, so he gave it to me in my left foot on a spot near my heel that hurts the most. The shot was painful despite the numbing. Afterwards, I couldn’t tell if my foot was hurting so bad there from the shot or the pain that was already there. At the moment I can’t say that the steroids helped or didn’t help because I still have to take my last dose tomorrow morning and I have tried not to do any activity. I can however sleep without waking up from pain now, which is a huge step in the right direction. Tomorrow I get back on the trail, and I can say that my feet feel the best they have in a really long time.
I went a whole week without my phone turning back on before I decided I would have to buy a new one. I switched from an iPhone 6 to a Google Pixel 3a, mostly because I’m tired of Apple and the Pixel 3a was the most reasonably priced smart phone I could find. It’s going to take some getting used to. To be honest I still can’t figure out how to do a lot of things on it, but I can call, text, blog, and take pictures which is all I need! I’m excited that my picture quality should be enhanced significantly, but I’m not sure I will always be able to upload them to the same quality.
When my phone broke, I lost over a week’s worth of blog posts that I had saved on my phone in draft form but never uploaded to the internet in any way. I had to go back and rewrite all of them from memory. Luckily I did post a few pictures, so I had almost one from each day. It took me six days to finish everything because I got so tired of writting and trying to remember things. Keeping a journal is something that is really hard for me, and up until now I’ve never written, in detail, the happenings of so many consecutive days. I make sure to stay very disciplined about writting things down the night of on the trail because I hate writting about things the day after so much. Re-writting and reliving the days I had lost was pretty dreadful but it’s done! I will try not to make the mistake of not saving my drafts on the internet, but even that can’t be avoided sometimes due to service.
After being in Ohio for five days, I headed back to the general area of the trail with my boyfriend. This was so we could hang out as originally planned, and help me get my mind off staying at home in Ohio, to get me ready to go back into hiking mode. We had a great time just hanging out, making a visit to Hershey Park, and celebrating his birthday by going white water tubing on the Potomac River.
While on my break I missed seeing the mountains and being outside a lot. Ohio is significantly flat compared to the elevation changes I’ve been spending my time in lately. It reminded me of the shock I felt of losing the mountains when I moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio years ago. I tried not to think too much about miles I was missing or the fact that there is no way I will ever catch up to my sister who is over halfway through Pennsylvania by now. I was happy to find out that some good trail friends of mine are passing through Harper’s Ferry the day that I will be getting back on, so I am hoping to catch back up and spend some time hiking with them. The last time I saw them was in Daleville, VA. They always remind me that the last one to Katahdin wins, and that taking things easy is good too. They will probably be a good group of people for me to be around while I am testing out the limits on my feet for the last half of the trail, because they take it easy and rest adequately.
Honestly, I’m kind of nervous and very excited about being back on trail tomorrow.