A week of elation and disappointment
Summit day was brutal. It was hard and discouraging and overwhelming but every bit just as beautiful and rewarding. It was foggy all day and we were trying to beat the rain. After summiting and what felt like 6 false summits we headed back down Abol Trail instead of Hunt because we thought the rocks would be safer when the rain started. About a mile down the boulder field it started raining. Well sleeting. I sent Allen a message at the summit joking he should bring pizza, but the man wins husband of the year award because he came back into the park with pizza, snacks, and seat warmers in the car.
Day 2: Tribute to the skeeters.
These mosquitoes are a different breed. They bit me through my gaiters, pants, and socks. Not to mention my hat. There’s no getting away from them.
You know, it’s funny how perception can mislead you. Looking at Katahdin from this bridge it feels so far away. But we were just there 2 days ago climbing it.
Things I’ve learned so far: living in the woods is freeing. Each day we are becoming more and more unapologetically be ourselves. Whatever emotion, bodily function, song in the head, or view that may be. Want to go swimming? Great. The first few days have been full of solitude. We have been leapfrogging with the other SOBOs and catching up at the end of the day. It has also means campsites to ourselves, lake swims with views of Katahdin to ourselves, mountain peaks to our selves, and lots of dinner for the mosquitoes. Day three the aches and pains faded into normal walking with the exception of the morning ouchies, and getting up after long breaks, but overall, it is becoming routine.
I would say I’m adjusting to life in the woods well. I am laughing and breathing. Taking my time and embracing the journey and I’m loving every beautiful, painful, breathtaking moment of it. Except maybe the mosquitos.
Did I ever mention the mosquitos are bad?
When I was out last month with Wildcat he mentioned that a lot of my ministry at the beginning would be pack adjustments and blister care. Man was he right. Mountain Goat’s pack broke slowly over the course of a couple of days and we adjusted to make it wearable each time. Dave, a SOBO and I have been leapfrogging with was really struggling with blisters and thought he’d only make it to the next shelter at our lunch break but about dinner time he passed us trying to crank out another 4 miles saying his feet felt great.
It’s wet. Over 1/2 of the days out here so far it’s rained and we have been tenting because it’s the only way to really get a break from the mosquitoes. After multiple nights of rain in a row all our gear is wet. I don’t know that my shoes have ever fully dried since starting.
Hummingbird has been struggling a bit on this hike. Part of me feels guilty for asking her to come do something that has made her hate the thing she loves, but I also remember how I felt on miserable hikes. A couple days after I got home I was ready to go out again. I hope the same for her.
We swam and soaked our joints as much as we could but after 5 days I’m already ready for a shower.
Mountain Goat got off the trail on Saturday. It was predicted that the high was 38 and raining all day and only getting worse so we shuttled into Monson for the night which ended up being one of the best decisions.
My first day on the trail on my own was hard. I was now behind the bubble I had been a part of, didn’t have my people to talk to, missed Allen and the dogs, and fell a couple of times because the rocks were so slick from all the rain. But I kept going. I kept reminding myself I’m walking home.
It was by far one of the hardest days on trail so far. I would just burst into tears climbing up the mountain with no idea where it came from. I missed hiking with people and talking with people. Being with others made the misery less miserable.
After a late start, I still made it 14 miles over White Cap Mountain but I was exhausted. When I got to camp there was a scout group of some sort already there. They called themselves the monkey gang. They had taken up most of the campsite so I found the closest to flat thing I could and pitched my tent and went to bed without eating dinner. I was so over the day.
The next morning I found out that Mouse and 77 were at the same campsite, They had just already been asleep by the time I rolled into camp. It was much needed to see familiar faces. I hiked with them for most of the day. 77 realized he didn’t have enough medical supplies to make it to Monson so he got off at the last road to Monson and Mouse and I kept going.
We were miserable. But our headspace was getting better. On the way up Chairback Mountain we were able to find some signal to call our husbands. The rest of the day we commiserated, cried, swore to the mountains, together. It was so cathartic to have someone else experiencing the same homesickness and rough days when it felt like everyone else was laughing and having the best time. As much as I was ministering to Mouse by having someone to sit in the discomfort with, I think she was ministering to me just as much.
Coming up the rockslide on Chairback my foot slipped and something popped. I brushed it off as nothing happened. But as I got to the shelter and the next day the pain kept getting worse. Mouse and I were trying to do a 15 that day so we could get into town in two days. What should have been moments of 20-30 minute mile terrain took us sometimes more than an hour to go one mile. That’s when we knew something was really wrong.
We called when we had signal so see about the closest shuttle point because I knew I probably should not push my foot the last 25 miles into town. Got off trail and came into town where Mountain Goat (a paramedic) looked at it and decided it wouldn’t be something I could rest here and would really need to be looked at by my specialist. So I flew home to go see my specialist and determine what the next steps are.
Flying home I felt lots of mixed emotions. I’m heartbroken flying away from the mountains I’ve dreamed of hiking for so long. It didn’t hit me till I was actually on the plane, either. I think while I was at the hostel it wasn’t fully real yet. While I’m so excited to see Allen and the dogs I feel like I’m leaving a piece of myself behind. And I don’t know for how long. My hope is to keep hiking but we will see what the specialist says.
After seeing the specialist we are concerned about a mid foot fracture, so I am awaiting CT results to make a better informed decision.