Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Foot Injury- Update #4

After nearly three weeks off the trail, I haven't been cleared by my physical therapist to hike or backpack, but my foot hasn't been hurting so he says it is OK for me to walk a little.  As long as I'm careful and don't overdo it.

It was such a relatively small thing, and yet, it calmed my restlessness.   A night in my hammock at the Donner Pass trailhead on the PCT, dropping Arizona off after he took another zero day.  It gave me a new appreciation for everything I love about backpacking.
My happy place: my hammock.
Sometimes it is said that there are two types of backpackers- those that prioritize the hiking part of backpacking (and do long miles and carry fewer camp comfort items) and those that really like the camping part (and that roll into camp early and spend a lot of time in camp).  I always thought of myself as the former- I love to move and don't like to sit still much.  But this night made me realize how much I love the camping part of backpacking while I have been on the PCT.

I love the feeling of having everything I need on my back.  Being able to select my own spot for the night.  How the place is ever-changing, but it transforms into my home the moment I set down my pack.  Such freedom.

I delighted in the simplicity of camping.   I have learned an economy of motion in setting up camp from my time on the PCT.  I am quick and the setup is uncluttered.  Everything is where I need it.   Everything in my pack has a purpose. 

Just for the night, I attempted a few changes in my setup to see if I could save weight- including cutting down my foam mat/ leg insulation to 4 segments instead of 6.  I could tell it wouldn't work long-term- my feet stuck over the edge too much (oh darn it long legs!), so if it had been any colder I would have had frozen feet.  But it gave me a satisfying feeling to keep trying new things, to keep trying to optimize.

The last glow of evening light faded on the granite.  The tree branches were silouetted against the darkening sky.   There was a persistant hum of mosquitoes.  They were everywhere, circling and biting.   My heart filled with joy for being on the PCT.  Yes, I'd missed even these pesky blood-sucking beasts.

 I fell soundly asleep moments after zipping up my hammock and tucking my quilt around me.  The comfort and familiar hiker-funk smell of the hammock a huge reassurance, and sense of calm filled me.  I had that clarity that I am on the right path for me, that I will get back to the trail in due time.  That I will not take any part of this experience- the delight in making camp, savoring everything about night on the trail- for granted.
I am NOT backpacking. I am just carrying my pack very slowly a short distance to camp.
The alarm sounded even before first light. I fell into my morning routine, with the added benefit of enjoying it with new appreciation. Breakfast in my hammock. Then packing up in just a few minutes. Arizona's stuff was still all over the place. "What are you doing standing around with your pack on waiting around for me when you aren't even hiking?" It's not even 5 AM. My legs are antzy. My body thinks I am going hiking.  Instead I drove back to town in time for my physical therapy appointment. Arizona set off down the PCT.


  1. I know what you mean, the camping bit is great . I also think the logistics of thru walking is a real art form . Knowing where it all is , having it all packed and organized , knowing how to use it , always trying to cut down weight. Now I don't seem to be able to get the weight cuts down to an art form but will keep trying . You will know when it's time . Steve

    1. It has taken me longer to learn to savor the camping bit. But just being out there in the stillness is so restorative.

      There sure is an elegance and simplicity to the packing/ unpacking that happens over time. Except that the conditions and gear are ever-changing, there can be wind and rain and I often end up setting up on slopes or tangles of branches, then it's awkwardness all over again, and it feels like being a beginner all over again. Gotta love that about the trail.

  2. What a beautiful write up. I felt like I was there enjoying "The last glow of evening light faded on the granite". I'm very sorry to hear about your foot trouble. If I was to offer you some advice, it would be to let it heal before you hit the trail again.
    Good luck and keep writing.

    1. So glad I could transport you to the beautiful Sierra!

      Thanks for the advice- this has been so important for me to hear. At first, it was so tempting to just keep hiking, but you are so right it definitely needs to heal completely before getting back out there.

      Thanks again for your support! Hope you are enjoying some time on the Foothills this summer!

  3. You look so cozy in your cocoon. And in the morning....out emerges the beautiful butterfly.

    1. Longer pupation time but I'm still hoping and aiming to fly.