Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 84: The agony! The pain! The horror!

May 30: The day started warm and humid. For breakfast, I headed across the street to Goodies where I ordered a meal of French toast, regular toast, bacon, scrambled eggs and apple juice. It was good, but I was very annoyed at my waitress who I saw standing in a corner playing with her smartphone instead of filling up my glass of water and brining out my bill when I wanted it. She was also probably very disappointed with the tip I left her too. =)




I walked over to the post office where I mailed my laptop ahead. In less than two weeks, I planned to meet up with Amanda again so rather than ship it to a post office without being entirely sure which post office I’d be near in two weeks, I shipped it directly to Amanda who could just bring it to me when she visited.


Then I sat down on the second-floor patio of the Doyle and waited. I was waiting for Pink Panther and Madcap, a couple of letterboxers who had tried to thru-hike the AT last year. They, unfortunately, didn’t make it and had to get off the trail after Madcap got hit to Lyme disease. I’d kept in contact with them and they were planning to go out to the trail today to do some trail magic already, and since they were in the area, I emailed them late last night asking if they could pick me up from Duncannon. No reason for me to hike the 1.9 miles to the edge of town when I already did it yesterday with Chuckles and Little Red if I didn’t have to!


They arrived and picked me up, saving those couple of miles of walking I’d otherwise have to repeat, and dropped me off again near the railroad tracks at the edge of town. They would also meet up further up the trail as well, so I dropped off some of my gear in order to slackpack the next several miles. Life was good!


At the junction to the Clarks Ferry Shelter, along a perfectly easy grade with few rocks and while slackpacking, I did something very bad because the next thing I knew, I had stumbled and a searing pain shot through my left ankle. I took a few steps on it, and it hurt. Bad. Little sprains seem to happen all of the time and I’d walk it off after a few minutes, but this one I knew would be with me for awhile. I hobbled along, leaning heavily on my trekking pole, the short ways to the shelter where I planned to sit down a rest.


View looking back towards the Susquehanna River and Duncannon.


I sat down, nursing my poor ankle and complaining bitterly about the trail practically ignoring the three people already at the shelter. I was in my selfish mode right now! Poor ankle… Eventually I got my head off my ankle and started talking with the folks at the shelter who I was surprised to learn already knew who I was. They knew me because Heavyweight and Superman had just left the shelter minutes earlier and they had told these hikers about me. I came up in the conversation when Switchback said he had attempted a thru-hike in 2003 but had to get off the trail in Pearisburg after learning he had accidentally gotten his girlfriend pregnant. Oops! That was an excuse I’d never heard before! =)


But that was the same year I had hiked the trail, and Heavyweight and Superman knew this so they asked if he knew me. He didn’t, and I didn’t know him either, but we knew several people in common and we swapped our war stories from the trail.


They suggested I soak my foot in the cold spring at the shelter, but I didn’t do that for two reasons. First, I remembered the spring as being pretty small and relatively stagnant and didn’t want my foot polluting the water source, and second, I sprained it pretty badly. It was going to hurt to get my shoe off and it was going to hurt even more to put it back on again later—assuming, that is, it didn’t swell up so much that I couldn’t get it back on at all. For the time being, I wasn’t going to do anything with my ankle except complain bitterly about how much it hurt.


Switchback started a thru-hike in 2003, but had to get off the trail before he could finish.


I continued onwards, hobbling along slowly. Somehow I caught up with some day hikers and they allowed me to pass, but I declined saying that I really couldn’t hike very fast because of my ankle. And I was almost at the Highway 225 road crossing anyhow, where I’d be stopping again when I picked up the rest of my pack. I wasn’t looking forward to that, but nothing seemed broken so I wasn’t going to get off the trail!


The road crossing was much different than I remembered from my 2003 thru-hike—the bridge spanning the road didn’t exist back then. It was a nice bridge, high above the traffic on the busy road where the road make a sharp hairpin turn that made crossing the road so sketchy back then. The bridge was a nice improvement!


When I arrived and Pink Panther and Madcap saw my hobbling, they jumped into action telling me to sit down and rest. The day hiker I met asked if I’d like an ankle brace that he had in his car. I wasn’t sure if it would help or not, but I figured it didn’t hurt to give it a try. “Do you always keep these in your car?” I asked, a little surprised that anyone would have one readily available.


I worked my shoe off, and Madcap filled a plastic bag with ice from their cooler so I could put it on my ankle, and I raised my ankle on a rock. They wouldn’t let me get up for anything! Did I want something to drink? They ran over to get a cold Pepsi for me. Did I need my pack? They ran over to the car and retrieved my pack for me. I wasn’t to do anything for the time being, except rest my ankle. I felt a little spoiled—I usually don’t have people doting on me like this! =)


I couldn’t sit there the whole day, however. Eventually, I needed to keep going. My ankle had swollen dramatically despite the ice, but I strapped on the ankle brace and painfully worked my foot back into its shoe. I thanked Pink Panther and Madcap for their support, and they told me to be sure to call them if I needed to be picked up to rest. We parted ways, though, and I continued onwards.




I arrived at the Peters Mountain Shelter late in the day where I ran into Hawkeye. I had seen him once before, drunk off his ass while hiking the trail near Gathland in Maryland. He didn’t appear to be drunk this time, but he was extraordinarily loud when he talked and he always had an opinion about everything. That, I thought, is a man who likes to hear himself talk. Very, very loudly.


I wasn’t really inclined to stay at the shelter to begin with—my goal for the day had been quite a bit further, but with the sprained ankle, I knew I wouldn’t reach my goal. Even then, however, I figured I could still make it a bit further. Running into Hawkeye already at the shelter, I definitely didn’t want to stay there for the night and I left five minutes after I arrived.


I hadn’t been out of the shelter for a half hour when thunder crashed nearby and the first rain started to fall. The constant pain from my ankle started taking its toll as well, and I sat down on a log with my umbrella above me just feeling absolutely miserable. I hate the rain, I hate the pain in my ankle, and I just wanted to stop. Right there and then. I couldn’t, though. I didn’t have enough water for dinner or breakfast the next morning. I had to, at the very least, reach the next water source a couple of miles further down the trail.


It was among the most difficult couple of miles of the entire hike for me. Without the sprained ankle, it would have been easy, but every step was agony at this point and it wore me down faster than I imagined. A ridgerunner walking in the opposite direction seemed concerned about my well-being, but I assured him that I’d be okay. He was hiking to the Peters Mountain Shelter. I felt a little sorry for him knowing that he’d be sharing it with Hawkeye, but I didn’t tell him that. He’d figure that out on his own.


I pushed onwards, finally reaching a small creek just before Highway 325. The rain had mostly stopped by this point, but I set up my tarp anyhow knowing it could start again at any minute and even if it didn’t, there were still drops falling from the trees. It never felt so good to stop for the day. I filled up my water bottles, then dived under the tarp impatient to remove my shoes. My ankle had continued swelling during my hike and looked uglier than ever, but at least I didn’t have to hike on it anymore. Not today, at least. I was done. I decided to keep the ankle brace on it during the night. I’m not sure if it helped or not, but it wasn’t hurting either. However, even twisting my foot slightly left or right hurt a lot and the ankle brace helped prevent that. I was afraid my ankle would wake me up all night long every time I shifted position in my sleep so I hoped the brace would help prevent the movements that would cause the extraordinary pain that would wake me up during the night. Damn ankle!




This bridge over Highway 225 was new since my 2003 thru-hike.


Putting ice on my foot.


Madcap and Pink Panther babied me at the trailhead. =)


But I couldn’t sit around all day whining about my ankle. Nope, I still had more miles I needed to hike!










My home for the night! Thank goodness the day was over!


Yeah, that ankle doesn’t look good. It’s not normally that huge! Is that an apple embedded under my skin?!


Anonymous said...

Ouch!!!! That does look quite painful. How fortunate you were to have someone offer the brace. And others to look after you. Good people.

Okie Dog said...

Looks very familiar, like what happened to me June of last year. Feel for ya, guy. I still have a slite limp, it broke in two places on my ankle. I did it at a cemetery, right here in the city, ha. Hope it doesn't take as long to heal as mine did with no problems of a limp later on. OD

Andrea Palma said...

Sprains like that suck. I had one a few years ago, and it hurt for about 3 or 4 months...

No one babied me, though!!!! :)

Andrea Palma said...

Sprains like that suck. I had one a few years ago, and it hurt for about 3 or 4 months...

No one babied me, though!!!! :)

Unknown said...

Ouch! Hope it didn't take too long to heal.