Saturday, June 28, 2014

Foot injury- Update #2

When we dropped Arizona back off on the trail after his zero day, I took a 45 minute stroll (no pack) on the PCT from Carson Pass.  No foot pain at all and it lifted my spirits.  Flowers were everywhere, snow lingered in patches at higher elevations.  I breathed in the fresh mountain air, and said hello to the gnarled mossy trees.  I relished the feeling of coming home (if only for a short time!) after exactly two weeks off the trail.  Oh how I've missed the PCT!
See, I'm staying off my injured foot.  Really...
Levels of optimism reached new heights as I strolled on the PCT.  Maybe I will be able to make it to Canada after all!  Arizona told me how he has noticed that other hikers out there are beginning to struggle with the monotony of the trail at this point. The excitement of the Sierra is over and energy reserves are dwindling.  When I get back on the trail (hopefully next week- fingers crossed!) this sure won't be a problem for me-- I've got all this stored up excitement and exuberance. I'll be carrying with me an even deeper appreciation for the trail.
Yay for trees!
Yay for flowers!
But I know I will have other mental struggles due to coming off this injury.  How can I trust my body not to break again?  Will I be less inclined to push myself physically?  I constantly think about how I can maximize the health of my foot- limiting my miles as frustrating as that may be.  What will everyone think (and what will I think of myself!) if I only do 15 miles a day when everyone else is doing 30's!?!  What if everyone is always passing me? I wonder about my shoes, but after going to five different outfitters and running shoe stores, I can't find any alternatives.  I also antagonize about how I can reduce my pack weight further so as not to create undo strain on my foot.  Should I buy cuben rain pants to save 4 oz?   Or send home my down jacket?  Or cut down my sit pad/ leg insulation from 6 panels to 4 panels (unless my feet freeze at night- since I already sent home my down booties already- oh my!)  The real way to save weight would be to ditch my hammock and sleep on the ground (especially if I just carry my tarp).  Oh my that would be horrible now that I am finally into areas where the hanging is so very good.  I love my hammock too much.  I love being able to sleep so soundly.  What if I just bring less food?

Where the PCT crosses 50, we ran into Coppertone making up root beer floats for Acorn and another PCT hiker. He recognized me from when I saw him back at mile 315.   It felt awesome to be recognized as a PCT hiker- I realize I have become so attached to that identity.  So happy to be called 'Hemlock'!  I haven't seen Acorn since the beginning of the trail- he was off a week for shin splints.  Acorn and I commiserated about how slowly time goes when we are off the trail.  

Back at Carson Pass, there just happened to be a geology talk going on right after I got done with my stroll.  I've been hoping to run into someone to explain the geology of the area since I started the PCT.  It was fascinating to learn about the plate tectonics that shaped the region and why the Sierras are so unique geologically.  
At Carson Pass.
My favorite part was learning about the glaciers that carved out the U-shaped valleys and left lateral moraines that help form lakes.  I hadn't understood the geological process that explained the landscapes I had been seeing on my hike before, so this made me really appreciate the Sierra in a way I hadn't before.  He also recommended a few excellent youtube videos by Wendy VanNorden that talk about Sierra geology (be sure to check out "The Geologic History of Southern California" and "Glacial erosion").  Way cool!!!
On the geology walk.


  1. If you can do 15s and stay on the trail, why not? Who cares about the people who are rushing through? I've noticed that more than ever this year, like it's an endurance quest just to get through so you can have bragging rights. It's such a great opportunity to be out there at all. You are still super early in the season. I say go for it and do what your body tells you.

    1. Oh that's so right! There are so many people rushing like crazy this year, and it's hard not to get caught up in that. Especially now that I'm off trail and have time to read blogs of other PCT hikers.

      I know you are right though, that when I get back out there, that I will hike my own hike and do what I need to do to stay hiking.

  2. Mary is right. This is not a's to enjoy. And some of your wishes are coming true as you are off trail. This is your bliss.

  3. And don't ditch what you need for warmth and comfort Hemlock. Take your time, I agree with Mary and grannie!

  4. It's the journey, not the mileage. I don't plan to rush it when I do the PCT. It will likely never happen again so relish the experience and enjoy every day!

  5. One good thing that comes with age is wisdom and the confidence to not succumb to peer pressure. As they say HYOH. There are others such as Tumbleweed who are ever so happy to just be out there, enjoying every experience and every mile. It's a gift to yourself to make it YOUR hike. Be good to yourself :)