Journal Entry: March 14 & 15

March 14Home.
Drove a fun little Fiat home, made an appointment to talk to my neurologist. He can’t see me until June, so I’ll call back and see if his nurse can see me any sooner. I’m also going to make an appointment to see my eye doctor and my podiatrist tomorrow. Mostly spent the afternoon with my dog on my lap and my cat yelling at me from downstairs. Given that the dog is a hundred pounds, I wasn’t going anywhere.
March 15
Got an earlier appointment with the neurologist’s nurse, and got my eye and foot appointments tomorrow. I’m not physically healthy enough to hike the whole AT in one go, I know that. But I’m still looking to get out of my rut, so I’ll talk to a travel agent tomorrow and get some ideas.

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Journal Entry: March 12 Evening, March 13

March 12, later
I started crying thinking about going back to the trail. I want to finish, but it’s physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. I think my MS is flaring up. I can’t do this anymore. I can go home, rest, and come back as a section hiker. I might do that.
I’m going to go home tomorrow, and see all my doctors before I think about coming back.

I really don’t want to quit, but I feel that if I keep pushing forward I’ll do serious damage to myself. And I’m worried about the change in my vision and what that could mean. I do want to hike the whole Appalachian Trail, but not at the expense of my health. 
Thanks to everyone who followed along, and I will update this blog again when I continue my section hikes of the AT, but this portion will end at mile 78.3, Bly Gap, NC.
March 13

2:40 pm
After sleeping on it, and talking to another outfitter about my feet, I’m still going home tomorrow, and I’m going to rest for a week or two, but then I’ll come back and do more. I plan on speaking with my neurologist and my podiatrist while home, too.
Also: I ran into Mama Bear and Little Foot while I was at the outfitter, and Dead Guy Ale made it down from Bly Gap alright. (He was the other hiker who was going down with us, but he still had to take down his tent and whatnot while we were leaving.) And apparently Boots went on ahead, and should be around Winding Stair Gap today. 

Journal Entry: March 12

March 128:12 am
Everything is covered in snow. I’m going to try and see if I can get a pickup at Deep Gap, which is 6 miles ahead, rather than Rock Gap, which is 27.
This sucks.
Noon

Franklin 
So, I found a shuttle driver that would do a pickup at the road near Bly Gap (there was a side trail leading down, and a forest service road after), so me and two others who were camping at the Gap got a ride into town. There was another guy, but he didn’t keep up, so the driver is going back to check on him and take him to Hiawassee.
I’m currently sitting in a Knights Inn out here and I’m going to try to figure things out. I might come back and muse some more here.

  • I only walked about five miles and it hurts to put weight on my feet.
  • I have bruises on my hips and arms from my pack.
  • My vision issue is still there.

Meh. I’m going to take a nap and come back later.

Journal Entry: March 11

March 115:19 pm
Not much happened today, really. I got a shuttle back to Dicks Creek Gap, hiked nine miles to Bly Gap, and am currently freezing my ass off in my hammock. It’s snowing.
I stopped at Plumorchard Gap shelter for lunch. I packed out a sandwich from Subway. I could have stayed there, or kept going another three to the next shelter, but I’m stubborn and wanted to stick to my plan, so now I’m freezing on a ridge.
Also, my feet feel like hamburger meat, and I can feel my plantar fasciitis getting worse with every mile. I’m going to make it to Franklin, then I am going to seriously assess this hike. I’m not really enjoying myself, I’m in pain daily, and I miss my comfort zone. 
Honestly, my plan for Franklin is to zero one day, and do nothing related to the trail. Just sit, read, write, watch tv. And try to decide what I do next. Depending on my finances, I could rent a car and drive myself home (it’s only two and a half hours, did you know?), or I could take the train ride around the country I was planning on. Or hell, I could go to Disney! I just don’t know.
I know everyone says to not quit on a bad day, but I haven’t really had any good days on trail. I mean, I enjoy the scenery, I enjoy the people (mostly), and I am somewhat enjoying myself, but ending every day in pain isn’t fun. I’m going to do a lot of thinking about it between here and Franklin, because I don’t want to make a rash decision about this. And if I do leave, I do want to come back as a section hiker, because, other than the pain, I’m having some fun.
Except for the part where I’m freezing in the snow right now. And my feet are in massive amounts of pain. And I think my MS is affecting my vision a bit.
Anyway. I’ve made it to North Carolina today, and I’ve got about 27.6 miles to go and think about everything.
Did I mention I’m cold? Because I’m cold.

Journal Entry: March 10

March 10
Started early, got my resupply for the next few days, and got a haircut. Cut about eight inches off, so I can still pull it into a ponytail, but it should be more manageable now.
I’m currently sitting in my long underwear doing a load of laundry. I’m in town, so I’ll wash everything. 
It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, so I’ll be hiking cold. 
Other than that, nothing exciting takes place while in town.
3:32
I got moon pies! I got enough that I can have one a day up to Franklin. I set up a smaller food bag per day, to lighten up my food bag. So, every day, I have two bagel thins, a small container of peanut butter (the JIF to go cups), three pouches of honey, a snickers bar, two honey buns, three oatmeal cream pies, a small baggie of trail mix, some wasabi peas, some bacon, and some cheese, as well as a dinner.
I’m probably going to eat the honey buns for breakfast, lunch will be bagels, honey, and peanut butter, and probably the snickers, then bacon and cheese with the dinner, and everything else will be snacks throughout the day.
For those wondering, I’m taking shelf-stable bacon, and I’m not opening the individual packets until I’m going to eat them. I also found some sheep milk cheddar, so I bought a chunk and quartered it so I have some each day.
I’ve also figured out how to pack everything more efficiently, so it’s not as badly balanced and closes more easily.

8:42pm

So, current plan is to get a shuttle to Dicks Creek Gap and hike to Bly Gap tomorrow,which is nine miles even. Then, hike 9.2 to Standing Indian Mountain summit on Sunday, then 9.8 to Betty Creek Gap on Monday, and finally the 8.5 to Rock Gap where I can grab a shuttle into Franklin, NC. The distances are doable, but the issue is the weather.
The website I’m using says it’s going to be a high of 47 tomorrow, and it will probably snow tomorrow night, and rain and snow on Sunday, and a mix of rain and snow on Monday and Tuesday. This is not going to be fun, at all.
I’m going to make sure my rain jacket is accessible, and that my bag liners are in good shape before bed.

Journal Entry: March 9

March 9

7:24am
I’m going back into town today. I need more real food than I have, and I want to soak some more. Going to finish packing up then hike to Dicks Creek Gap.
5:31

Hiawassee 
Got into Dicks Creek Gap, and had some trail magic around 3 or so. Lovely guy called Greeter, and Bigfoot’s wife were dishing out hotdogs, a lovely pasta dish, and cold sodas and chips. I had a little of everything, then my ride got in and I’m back in Hiawassee. Took a shower, gonna wash my clothes tomorrow, and probably get a haircut while I’m here. I like my hair long, but it’s becoming a hassle on the trail, so I’ll consider it. Or at least get one of the stylists to teach me how to French braid my hair.
Anyway, I’m going to go get dinner, and will keep you updated on the hair situation.

Journal Entry: March 8

March 8 7:10

I’m going to run over to Rite Aid in a sec and get the two things I want but keep forgetting about (Mylar emergency blankets and a sleep mask), then I’m going to call Gilenya and see if they’ll send a week of meds to the Top of Georgia hostel. I’m fairly sure I have enough to coast to Franklin, NC, but I’ll be down to one or two at that point. And after that, I’m off to Unicoi Gap again!
8:04

So, Gilenya can’t help me, but I did get most of what I needed at Rite Aid. Anyway, I’m going to pack up the last of my stuff and head out.
4:27pm

Steel Trap Gap
So, I had been planning on stopping at the Cheese Factory site, but decided to push on. I’m currently camped at Steel Trap Gap, mile 59.9. It’s a nice little area just off the trail. I have some good views, and a decent spot to hang my hammock and my food. Anyway, I started a little fire and will make dinner shortly.
5:30pm

I was just joined by two other hikers, Cricket and Grasshopper. They’re a couple from Norfolk, VA.
And I have actually eaten! I had a double pack of Cup O Soup and a Moonpie, and have been finishing off a pack of beef jerky.
7:27pm

 Laying in my hammock, I’ve been planning out the next week. I’m going to Dicks Creek Gap tomorrow, then back into town for another zero day. I want to rest my back and legs a bit more. Then I’ll make Bly Gap, and my first night in North Carolina. From there, Beech Gap , Albert Mountain , and Rock Gap. From Rock Gap, can catch a ride into Franklin, where I can resupply and pick up my meds. And then I will plan some more.

Journal Entry: March 7

 March 7 7:56 am
The advantage that staying in a hotel has over hiking is easy access to large amounts of hot water. I am so incredibly stiff and sore this morning. A lot of it is spending a week doing nothing, and a lot is pushing myself too hard, too soon after an injury. But I could barely move my legs this morning, which is a pointed reminder that I really do need to stretch every day, ideally at lunch, when I set up camp, and before I set out in the mornings.
So I will start adding stretches to my routine, and in the meantime, I will soak in the tub some more.

11:35
Got a cold pack on my back right now, and I just learned that I’ve lost ten pounds so far. Still overweight, which is bad, and losing that much in that short a time is bad, but hey, I lost ten pounds. And my blood pressure went down, which is also good.
8:17
Laying in bed and planning the next few days. My plan tomorrow is to grab a sandwich from Subway and get a ride back to Unicoi Gap and make a nero to a place called “Cheese Factory Site” on my maps. It was apparently the site of a nineteenth century cheese factory, but nothing’s left of that. It’s only four miles from Unicoi, but on the other side of Rocky Mountain, which isn’t small. The following day, I plan on making Addis Gap, which is 7.5 miles further on. From there, I’ll hit Dicks Creek Gap and a short hike further on to the Top of Georgia hostel, where I will resupply again, and move on to North Carolina!

Journal Entry: March 6

6:41am
Had a mild panic attack last night with all the people in the shelter, and the person who was practically climbing on top of me last night, but it was a “freeze and breathe heavily” type, so I didn’t wake anyone up. I’m going to stay here until I’ve called everyone I need to, then hike onward. And this will be my last night in a shelter for a long while, because I’m in the leading edge of the bubble, and it’s just going to get busier after this. And if I stop at Unicoi, I can hitch a ride into Helen and stay at a hotel tonight and tomorrow, which will make it more likely I can get my meds sooner, but the bulk of the bubble will catch up faster.
Grr. I really don’t want to deal with people out here. I know I said that, but I’m very introverted, and people are draining to be around.
7:30am

People are packing up, and the person who slept next to me has spent all morning with her crap spread right in front of the only exit to the shelter. I really hate people. 
4:00pm

Hiawassee
Ok, maybe people have their good points.
Someone paid for two nights at a motel, and decided to go home instead. He gave me the reservation (already been paid), so I’m going to rest and recover a bit here today and tomorrow (my back is saying I came back too soon).
Anyway, to settle a point of contention: there is, in fact, a Taco Bell in Hiawassee, and I’m going over there for dinner. I haven’t really eaten anything since Saturday breakfast, so I’m going to fill up on food tonight and tomorrow, and I’m going to go through my food bag and try to get that a lot lighter (I don’t need 16 pounds of food for one person over three days).