Except I’ve driven here, not walked. I’ve had to stop my Appalachian Trail hike earlier than hoped. I had a foot injury in the rocks of Pennsylvania. Naturally. I limped along through New Jersey and finally at mile marker 1,405 in New York the pain was too much. My dear, dear friends Julia and Kathy (yes, you ARE Trail Angels!) rescued me and took me to Albany. I hoped that I could rest a week and get back to hiking, but after few days it became clear that the injury was more serious and required a doctors attention. Initially I was diagnosed with a stress fracture. The bottom line was this: my hike was over.
For the rest of that day I cried and ate ice cream. I also drank some wine. OK, a LOT of wine. But the next morning I put on my Big Girl Panties and started on a new plan–Plan C. With the help of some fabulous AT friends (thanks Crazy Larry and AWOL) I was hired to help out at the AT Lodge in Milinocket, ME for the remainder of the hiker season. It’s very close to the end of the trail, Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin.
It was a fast turnaround, too. Thursday of last week the doctor in Albany, NY released me so that I didn’t have to wear a boot on my foot. The injury is probably not a stress fracture, but micro tearing in the muscle and or connective tissue. It would take an MRI to confirm exactly, but the treatment is the same. The foot is strong enough to walk on, though I have to wear with sturdy shoes all the time. It is not strong enough to walk on rocks while wearing a backpack.
Friday I flew to Atlanta, collected my few belongings and car. Saturday morning I began the drive to Maine, 1,400 miles. Even with some car troubles, I was able to arrive in Millinocket Monday morning about 10a. And I was put to work immediately.
I’ve been working almost nonstop since then. The AT Lodge has private rooms and a huge bunkhouse. It’s a very busy place with shuttles, food drops and a gear store in addition to lodging. I’ve learned a lot, but so far I’m mostly doing laundry, making beds, cleaning, taking simple reservations and sales. It allows me to stay close to the trail for awhile longer and I’ve run into several hikers I met down south: Thin Mint, Bean Dip, Diesel, F1, Reroute and Happy.
I’m rooming with Tie Dye in a small apartment and hope to get to know the town soon. I eat at the AT Cafe daily, about 2 blocks away.
In the meantime, I’m arranging a job to teach English overseas. I have some leads, but nothing in stone just yet. It’s all in progress. It’s all an adventure.
But don’t forget that the trail is still there. With a little luck I can come back and finish next year. Only 780 miles to go!