Three years ago this week, I made it to Mount Katahdin….sort of. I’d planned to walk all the way there from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Maine along the Appalachian Trail. I only made it 1,405 miles to a road crossing (and convenience store with decent pizza) in New York. My feet had been in pain for more than a month. Every step hurt. I couldn’t make my daily mileage and I certainly had stopped having any fun. Sitting there, eating my pizza, I knew I had to get off the trail. A friend who lived in the area took me to her house and got me to a doctor. Prognosis: The bones in my feet were breaking down. My hike was over, unless I wanted to suffer permanent damage.
As many of you know, I am not able to hike for the remainder of the season. I have a stress fracture in my left foot. I’m disappointed, but I’m a realist. I could probably bind up my foot, take a lot of Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) and force my way to the end, but then I’d probably end up with a much worse injury. The trail will still be there and I need to concern myself with my long term health.
But I am simply not ready to leave the AT yet! Through the help of wonderful friends, I’ve found a place to work that will be near the trail. It is just a temporary position, through mid to late October, but it will allow me to stay close to the AT, meet up with people who I met while hiking, and give me time and a safe place from which to arrange my next steps. Plus, I’ve never been to Maine and I can’t wait to see it.
I will be working at the famed Appalachian Trail Lodge & Café in Millinocket, Maine. It is located near Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT. Don’t get me wrong, this won’t be glamorous. I be spending a LOT of time cleaning, doing laundry, making beds and sweeping. But I’ve helped out at several hostels along the way and am pretty sure I can manage. I will be out of this boot on my foot mid-week. The doctors say I can walk normally as long as I wear a supportive shoe, like my hiking shoes, Go figure. I am not allowed to hike, carry a backpack, walk over rocks, or run. But I can still work. Here is a link to the AT Lodge:
What I wanted was to hike all of the Appalachian Trail this year, but I did manage to complete 1,405 miles, which isn’t too bad. Less than 10% of those who start EVER complete the trail, so I knew the odds were against me when I started. This is not how I hoped the summer would go, but this is the best “Plan B” I think I could have found. It will also give me time to arrange an English teaching job overseas. If possible, I will get a position that will end in May/June and come back to the trail to finish. That may not be easy to arrange, but I’ve lucked out so far.
Thanks so much to all the people who have offered me a place to stay, a kind word and positive thoughts. So far, everything seems to be falling into place, but I may need your help in the future. It means so much that I don’t walk alone.