“Success on trail is measured by what you want and how far you are willing to go to achieve that goal.”
“No, real success is when the trail changes what you want.”
“That’s called growth.”
Yonder stole my camera…I found this on it later…
We climbed Kinsman today. We had awesome views the whole way up and spent time taking in the view from the top with Rocket Turtle.
In the evening we tried hitching a ride into Lincoln, and got picked up by none other than the Rocket Turtle gang! Although…we had to help them find Rocket Turtle, who somehow ended up in a different pick up location on the highway.
We spent the night at Chet’s Place and I made some art. We had a great night and some nice conversations. It was a small group of us staying at the bunk house that evening. We mostly hitched back because I wanted to meet Chet, but instead I just chatted with hikers.
Since we took a few days off I wrote a recap of my time since I was injured.
Chet’s Place: White Mountains and the Dissolution of Ego
“I went to the mountains because I wanted to be strong. Instead of finding strength, I found that I do not exist.”
5 months on trail
The emotional ego journey has led me into a new state of being. When I came out here I told everyone that my reason for hiking was to become strong. What I had meant was that I wanted to be independent. As hard as I tried to be independent, I still kept ending up in groups or with a hiking buddy. I wanted to do big miles, so I did. I wanted to be fast, so I was and I wanted to try my hardest. I thought I could be more than I was and carried too much weight. When I injured my leg I was carrying a 40lb pack.
My hike was energetic, tiring and truly challenging. I hit the trail hard and it was raw.
Then I wore down. The weight did not make me stronger, and I broke. The day I was injured my hip belt broke on my pack. Then my hip started hurting. I sprained a groin muscle and severely injured my lower back causing my hip and knees to give out. I then hobbled on stubbornly for two weeks until it became obvious that I could no longer walk. I limped without my pack on. When my mom came to get me in Vermont, I couldn’t walk to the bathroom without crawling a little or grabbing onto walls to stand. It sank in that I was probably going home; my hike was over.
A new hike started.
I got in the car and began to drive to PA. I felt sick, sad, and hopeless. I wished with all my strength that I could change the current circumstances. I was in denial. As I drove south, I could feel the last four months slipping away from me, skipping by and ending.
I wasn’t prepared to cope with the end of trail so soon. I was less troubled by the thought of not finishing than I was by the thought of returning to normal life. When we crossed the Susquehanna River I broke down. I had to stop and take a moment. I wept.
I couldn’t articulate my thoughts, so I leaned over my leg and cried. I decided at this point that I should drive myself away from trail. I knew that no one was going to help me get back to Vermont because everyone thought I should stop. I got in the car and cruised. I had to get away from trail.
I was so happy when I walked out of PA and so disgusted when I saw the welcome sign.
There I was sitting on the steps of my old friend’s house. We hadn’t seen one another in ten years. I was sitting there drinking a hard cider, leg propped up, writing…when my tent fell gently, then suddenly and dramatically collapsed on the ground.
My tent poles snapped in three places at once. This was the lowest moment in my entire hike. My leg was broken, my tent was broken, my heart was broken, my confidence was gone, but I kept pushing…because I’m really stubborn.
As a response I booked a greyhound back to trail. 2o hours on a bus that smelled like urine and 8 hours of waiting in the city. The thick film and grime of the city stuck to my senses and sounds kept me overly alert. I felt as if I were crawling out of the mouth of hell. My leg still pounded with pain and I shamefully limped awkwardly to the bus. People stared. Was I a traveling kid? Was I a traveler? Was I homeless? No one asked. When I arrived in Bennington I dragged myself over to the post office to hopefully pick up my tent.
No vacancy in town.
I walked up to the nearest car a asked for a ride. He didn’t want to leave an “injured woman in the woods.” So I told him I’d walk myself there.
He reluctantly dropped me off at trail.
I walked my first mile on trail up to the first shelter. I have never felt such nauseating pain. I kept telling myself “One foot in front of the other.” I took breaks every ten minutes and was overly aware of every single, slow step.
I met Blackfoot (New Jersey) and Voyager (Virginia) again after 4 months on trail. When I got to the shelter I went for water and met Little Giant (North Carolina) again.
It was encouraging to be back on trail again, but I could still barely walk. I limped around d the shelter and everyone looked concerned.
The next day I walked to the next shelter. I arrived at 11am and spent the day drawing in the log book.
There were only section hikers and weekend warriors there
that night. I answered lots of questions and was regarded mostly as weird.
I would have hiked on to the top of the mountain, but my tent was mostly useless. I was aiming to pick up a new tent in Rutland.
I watched the sun set and then rise from the tower on the mountain. It was a moving experience.
This was a difficult day. I landed at noon in quite a lot of pain. I pitched the Easton for the last time in the woods. I stretched and meditated for hours trying to come to terms with my current state. I tried to feel better, but every time I put weight on my leg, an internal pang of shock would shoot through my hip. I thought I was finished.
The next morning I felt better. As the days passed my swelling went down.
By the time I reached the White Mountains I had very little pain, but I couldn’t hike more than 15 miles in a day. I did this a few times and my leg began to hurt again.