I’ve been flying (I wish) solo for a few days now. Over the weekend, for the first time in his life, Dan stopped doing a thing before it hurt him. During our approach to Harper’s Ferry, he had planar fasciitis flare up in both feet. We knew starting out that his feet might cause him some pain, but he decided during our stay in Frederick that the pain was so intense, and so likely to get worse, that the smart thing to do would be to withdraw. So good for him for making the smart choice, but it’s a major bummer considering all the build up involved.
Shortly after Dan made his decision, Travis got on a plane to Texas. Mmmyep.
And that’s the story of how I came to be by myself at a backpacker hostel in southern Pennsylvania.
Well, not the whole story. The first order of business, once everyone realized that we weren’t getting back on the trail right away, was to continue the gluttony through the weekend. Frederick was having an art festival of some sort, but I didn’t see much of it. I was busy cramming as much pizza and ice cream into my face as I could manage.
Eventually Monday happened, and I spent the day re-equipping myself for a solo hike. Dan dropped me back at the trail on Tuesday, where I spent the afternoon ensuring that my new stove wouldn’t blow off my eyebrows, and that my hammock wouldn’t dump me, ass first, onto a pile of pointy rocks. How thoughtful I was, how careful and prepared. I didn’t realize until I started walking the next morning, that I hadn’t planned how much food I would need. Instead, I had just repeated our first shopping attempt, and was walking toward Pennsylvania with enough food to feed three grown men for a week on my back. Not my finest moment.
Twenty three miles later, I stumbled into camp and damn near collapsed. It turns out that twenty three miles was a bit too far for my sixth day walking, especially as overburdened as I was. I had the double dumb.
My legs hurt so much I could barely sleep, and I had managed to give myself some prize-winning blisters. One of my Achilles tendons had started to complain as well. Not bad for my first day back.
Since then I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve been going between ten and fifteen miles per day, and taking my time about it. I take breaks for snacks or naps whenever I want, and still get to the shelters with daylight to spare.
There was that one time thunder woke me up out of a nap and I had to run for a mile and a half to get off the ridge. That wasn’t much fun, but the storm didn’t last long and the sun (praise it) came back to dry everything off.
According to the more experienced hikers, things stop hurting so much after two hundred miles or so. My muscles are fine and the blisters almost healed, and I’ll thrilled when all the rigging in my joints is used to what’s going on. At this point the hardest part is getting the little voice in my head going “Faster! Faster! Faster! ” to shut up and chill out. I’ve gone 112 miles so far, so I’m about halfway through the suck, and halfway to being able to really start moving.