Friday, July 25, 2008

Wipeout!

The nice thing about pushing further north is that there seem to be far more lakes and rivers in which I can swim. After a full day hiking in 90 degree weather, or even in the middle of the day, it is a great way to cool and wash off. The terrain is getting much steeper in places, a far cry from the rocky, level ground in Pennsylvania. There are a growing number of places along the trail where I have to use my hands to climb up or down a section of the trail.

Not only is the elevation getting steeper, but it is slowly working its way up in elevation as well. A large portion of New York and New Jersey have been in triple digit elevations, but in Connecticut the elevation creeps over 2,000 feet. While the change in elevation isn’t really much, nights are significantly cooler than they had been in New York and New Jersey. Initially I was going to wait until Vermont to start carrying a sleeping bag again, but I decided to take it with me during my last hiatus and I'm glad I did. I certainly wouldn’t have frozen to death without it, but I would be slightly under gunned with my silk sleeping bag liner and garbage bag blanket.

It took 1,600 miles, but had my first wipe out of the trip. As I can do nothing half-assed, I made sure it was a spill in grand style. As I was crossing a downed log lying across a fairly steep section of the trail, I planted my hiking pole behind the tree before crossing. When I stepped on the tree itself to cross over it though, my left leg slipped out smashing my knee on the trunk of the tree and sending me tumbling over the top. In quite spectacular fashion I scattered some gear along the trail that had fallen from the outer pockets of my backpack, looking like a forest yard sale. I also managed to wrap my hiking pole around the downed tree, giving it an interesting, but relatively useless crescent moon shape.

While I found my ineptitude marginally amusing and a fall quite overdue, it had its consequences. I was somewhat bloodied and worse for the wear, but the bigger problem was that my knee began swelling quite significantly. I stopped at the very next river crossing to get some cold water on my knee to reduce the swelling. The cold water helped to a point, but the damage was done.

I continued hiking throughout the day with varying degrees of pain in my knee. Towards the end of the day though, it felt as if with every footfall someone was jabbing a dagger in the side of my knee. I had grave doubts as to whether I could continue hiking. I ended the day in a town where I could have gotten off the trail, but I told myself that I wasn’t going interrupt my hike at that point. I didn’t have very high hopes, but there was at least a chance that I could continue on, so I wanted to push it for at least another day before making a decision.

1 comment:

Roy Mauritsen said...

Hope things work out for ya buddy! Take care of that knee, and the foot... oh, and the back, while were at it!
Best of luck!