I had run into several people early in the day that I queried about the trail in that one infamous location. They all had difficulties finding the trail as well. One guy told me he just gave up and walked through the swampy area out to the road and found where the trail continued from there; the advantage of hiking during daylight hours. While that may have been the case, I have no one to blame but myself. I have always liked being in charge of my own destiny. There are no excuses. I didn’t make the right decisions to get me to where I needed to go. It is that simple. While people can claim they have learned from their mistakes, I really had the opportunity to let it sink in throughout the entire next day. I went over various scenarios in my head and bounced around some other ideas to hopefully safeguard myself from this happening again, on the Appalachian Trail or otherwise.
The pain in my leg had become very sharp and continued throughout the day. While I don’t necessarily mind pain (I have had dental work done without anesthetics of any sort), pain is the body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong. As I get older I am more in tune with the types of pain I can push through and that which may leave me with permanent damage in some way or another. I was starting to think that if I would continue hiking for the next month, my leg would fall into the latter category. Each time I set out on an adventure I have to ask myself: What is my goal and what am I willing to sacrifice to achieve that goal? As one of my biggest motivators in life is fear of failure, the answer the second part of that question is: a lot. With that, I have every intention to continue hiking, but I also think it would be prudent to seek medical attention. I made the decision to take a break and find out what was going on with my leg.
I still had to finish my day and get to a place where I could catch a train to New York City. The latter part of the day took me right through Bear Mountain State Park…on July 4th. The park was packed to the brim with people up from the City. I felt just a little out of place walking through the middle of the park with my backpack and hiking poles. I doubt that more than a handful of the thousands of people in the park had any idea what the Appalachian Trail was, much less that it was routed right through the park. To them I probably looked just as odd as someone going to the supermarket in a space suit.
I came to a road crossing in Peekskill, NY where I was able to catch a ride to the train station. My timing is somewhat less than ideal that I am looking to see a doctor on the July 4th weekend. Wish me luck…