From a journal entry written before I left for the first leg of the thru-hike:
So here’s where we are:
It’s Friday, August 3rd.
I have one blog post to finish, and then no deadlines until next Friday, or even next Monday. This is a very rare window of freedom.
I do “have to” be back in civilization by August 11th, 8:30pm, for a Saturday night opera performance of Candide. My Father’s birthday is on August 10th, but I have a card ready to mail, and he would understand if I didn’t call him until I was out of the woods. Also, thanks to my little Garmin text device, I could text him a birthday message via my mother, even from the woods. Also, if pressed, if I had to, if I was willing to get yelled at (again) by my boyfriend, I could conceivably skip Candide. There would be a lot of complaining and blaming and resentment, but I could do it.
My leg seems fine. Like really fine. Like I am in disbelief how fine. I injured it Sunday on the Winsor trail by leaping up off the trail up a slope, hauling my dog to get out of the way of a horse. Hopped and hobbled home accompanied by an extremely kind fellow named Mario from Pojaque. Cried that night, thinking I had possibly put myself out for the season, and this plan was kaput. But felt dramatically better the next day. Definitely not normal, but far better than I would have expected. Saw a physical therapist yesterday who showed me how to walk a bit differently. Riley and I went for a walk around the dog park loop in the afternoon. Felt fine during and after.
Just came back from the Galisteo Basin, after walking up and down small hills, feeling completely fine the whole way. Did feel a tug in my calf at one point during the beginning, but there was no pain, just a tug. Hyperextended the leg several times going up and down the trail. No pain. No problem. I have not tried to give it a genuine, full push, but it can do careful pushes up and off without any problems. Actually, given how much worry and stress I am pouring into this calf, I’m surprised it isn’t hurting. I think even unijured, I am worrying about it enough to make it hurt.
I have a narrow window to do the first half of the trek before opera. If we leave Monday morning…
Monday night (night 1), Spirit lake
Tuesday night (night 2) Horsethief Meadow
Wed night (night 3) E Pecos Baldy
Thursday night (night 4) Truchas lakes
Friday afternoon (day 5) walk down into Santa Barbara campground. Meet Rob there, get driven home.
Thanks to my new favorite tool, the Gaia GPS app, I know the exact distances for all those things. I also know that they’re fairly short distances.
But here’s the problem(s):
Problem 1: I swore I would do a test overnight.
Problem 2: Just because I can go on a one hour walk on fairly level ground with no weight on my back does NOT mean my calf is good for five days in the back country. It needs a more realistic test.
Problem 3: There is not a lot of time until Monday morning.
I do also need to remember that this is not my only shot at going through. There is a beautiful window after August 11th, all the way through to when I have to leave for DC on Sept 6th. Then when I get back from DC, on Sept 10th, there’s another good window until hunting season starts on Oct 14th. (Oct 14th is for deer and guns. Sept 1 is when archery hunting starts. We’ll still wear colors in the woods, but I feel less likely to get hit by an archer than a rifle-carrying hunter. Of course, that all assumes people follow the rules. And this is New Mexico, in total wild. Where people often don’t follow the rules).
All the hunting worries aside, and while I really want to get through as soon as possible, there’s no big need to freak out. But still… life comes up so fast. I feel like I need to bolt before something gets in my way.
So here’s a possible workaround… we go out tomorrow night, but just to La Vega. That’s a very short hike, but far enough in to test my leg out. It also gets us an overnight in, but not so far in that if something bad happens I’m totally screwed. And if I can go out there, camp, and come back, and my leg is still good… then assuming I’m careful, I should be able to get all the way through to Santa Barbara. We’ll also have a night of rest on Sunday. And I’ll be in town on Monday morning to move some newly-arrived client money from my business checking account to my personal account, which is another thing I have to do.
If I learn that my leg is not up for four nights, I’ll be fairly close in, and we can get out. I’ll have a week to rebuild the calf and try again. Also, if I go out Saturday, and run into any trouble at all, I can just turn around. No worries at all. If the leg speaks up and says no, then it’s a no go. But from recent experience, the leg is utterly fine. The physical therapist said the leg was fine. I think the leg is fine… but I need to be sure.
Another thing… because it’s only a one-night overnight, I won’t be carrying as full a pack as I would have otherwise. So its an ideal test, both because it’s a half-distance, and a half-weight. ‘
And also, if my leg starts bugging me even after we leave on Monday, there are outs. If it’s unhappy even Monday night, we can turn around and go back to the Santa Fe Ski basin. If it’s bad Tuesday night, at Horsethief Meadow, we can walk down to the trailhead near Cowles (the Panchuela trailhead at Panchuela campground) and have Rob pick us up there. If it’s unhappy Wednesday night, we can walk out from East Pecos Baldy to Jack’s Creek. That’s a long way, but it’s a trail I know *very* well.
Really, the only night I can’t get out is at Truchas. Once we’re at Truchas, we’re committed to going all the way through. But even that – going all the way through to Santa Barbara from there, is only… a few miles.
So what that all means is I need to finish my blog post by tomorrow morning. And that, even more importantly, I need to be packing. ASAP. Now.
So I’ll go do that.