Back From The Woods

I went to Maryland for the last few days.  I’ve been meaning to take some time off work to knock a few more miles off the AT and finally got the opportunity.  I was lucky enough to have my friend Katie watch Diesel for me, as well as drop me off and pick me up at the trailheads.  I got on the trail in Bluemont, VA and planned on hiking 78.8 miles to Fayetville, PA over the course of six days.  Part of the plan was also to pass through Harper’s Ferry, WV – home to the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservatory.  The first day got off to a late start, as I realized 30 minutes into the drive to the trailhead I had forgotten my trekking poles.  Considering the mileage I had planned, I decided this was a necessary item and worth the drive back to pick them up.  After that small delay, we had a little challenge finding the trailhead, however in no-time flat, I was out on the AT again, ready to tackle the monstrous trail.

A few hours in, I began to think about all the wonderful people I had met in my first adventure on the AT.  I recounted the events and stories created with my trail friends, and thought about how only two years ago they had walked the same path that I was currently on.  It was a very humbling experience.  I continue to hold them in the highest respect, and envy them for their ability to pursue such a monumental task.

By the second day I made it to Harper’s Ferry and visited the ATC.  I got my photo taken in front of the building to add to the binders, and then spent a good hour or so browsing the photo albums looking for past hikers I knew.  Harper’s Ferry is a wonderful, quaint town and I highly recommend visiting. The people were very friendly.  The shops were adorable, and the food… superb, especially for a hungry hiker.  (If you have a chance, visit the local Pub Inn and ask for Jamie – awesome guy.)

I continued on and knocked out another 12 miles that day, bringing my total up to 30 for the two days.  I was making good time, and covering more ground than expected.  However, at the end of the second day, my knees were hurting.  Granted, my entire body was sore, considering I had not hiked to that extent in two years, but the knee pain was a new pain for me.  Being that I had surgery on one knee in 2005, I decided I should be cautious and took the last couple miles pretty slow.  I got into the shelter at about 7pm and rested my tired self.  A hearty dinner of pasta noodles and cheese warmed my insides, and I laid down to rest for the night.

The next morning I woke up refreshed, yet incredibly stiff.  A new soreness had surfaced and I could feel some weakness in my right knee, the “good one” (as opposed to the one which had already been operated on).  It was weak and wobbly.  I took my time packing my things, and decided I would only venture a nice 12 miles for the day, cutting back from my 15 mile pace, but still keeping my on schedule.  The walk out of the shelter was slow and I realized something wasn’t right.  The knee was killing me and it felt like at any minute it would give.  With the past knee experience, I knew this was not a good sign and decided that twelve additional miles wouldn’t be a good decision.  I hiked to the nearest road, which was still another 8 miles away and called Katie to have her pick me up.

I was sad to leave the trail after only a few days, but I know that it will be there far longer than I will, and I have plenty of time to trek through the hills of Appalachia.  It wasn’t worth pushing myself to the limits.  The beauty was still there, the trail still held its awe, and the pack will always be ready for another adventure.

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