Florida Trail Update

If you've been following my blog, you may be wondering why I’m not back on the trail yet. I can assure you I’m desperate to get back. I have all my Florida Trail maps and I’m officially a card-carrying member of the Florida Trail Association, but I have to let my sore left leg heal before I can think about hiking again.

Many people have asked me how I injured it. It’s not due to a single accident, so I usually just say, “Well, I’m thirty-three and I just hiked 2,200 miles.” I’m hoping it’s just a torn muscle that will heal soon, since hiking 15-25 miles a day is the only plan I had for the next couple years. Meanwhile, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and it’s not improving, so I worry it may be something worse than a torn muscle.

I’ve been a bit lazy lately, sitting on a couch with ice on my leg and popping anti-inflammatories, but since my mind is still very much occupied by my AT hike, and since I still can’t have a conversation with someone for more than two minutes without talking about it, I decided I’ll use this downtime to post more photos, thoughts, and stories about the trail. 

Like I said, I’m desperate to get back. My sister can attest to this by our recent trip to a Dollar General store. While she was shopping, I walked over to the food section. Not to buy food, but to be reminded of the Appalachian Trail. These stores were common in the south and I did a lot of my resupply there. I did so many resupplies in Dollar General Stores that I got tired of eating the same foods. Now I see those familiar packages with a feeling not unlike homesickness.

“Hello, apple pies with real fruit filling,” I thought. “How do you do, generic peanut butter and jelly in the same jar? And you, I could never forget you,” I picked up an oversized honey bun buried in a thick layer of chocolate icing, seven-hundred glorious calories for a mere fifty cents. “Greetings, old friend. It’s wonderful to see you again.”

Not that it has been proven clinically or anything, but I can assure you, I’m not crazy. I just miss the trail. How sad is it that I stared sentimentally at a god damn honey bun. I actually stopped to imagine I was just in some small unfamiliar Virginia town doing another resupply. I’d walk through those doors and rather than see the town I was so eager to leave months ago, there would be mountains forming the horizon. I’d walk down the road toward an AT trailhead with a backpack full of junk food and my thumb out, hoping for a hitch.

I’m writing this from our local McDonald’s. Sadly, my appetite is as ferocious as it was on the trail, but sitting on a couch with ice on my leg burns far fewer calories than hiking up mountains all day. I can already tell I’m gaining back some weight. 

I just stopped typing for a minute and caught myself daydreaming while staring through a little paper cup of ketchup. My mind inhabited by a fond McDonald’s memory. 

It’s August and I’m in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Thumper and Sixgun took a few days off to visit their parents. I waited for them to catch up in Lincoln. When they got to town, I was in a McDonald’s chatting with a woman who was traveling around the country in an RV. They burst through the doors. 

“Cam!” they yelled. Cam being the trail name given to me by Red on the second day of the hike, the day I met the girls. We crashed into a group hug in the crowded restaurant. Those few seconds, and the two days we spent in Lincoln afterwards, are some of my happiest trail memories.

It seems I can't go anywhere without something reminding me of the trail. I’m having another Dollar General moment and imagining this is a McDonald’s in a random Appalachian Mountain town. The girls would walk over with their tray of food anytime now. Soon they would have playing cards fanned out in front of them to continue our two-month-long game of Rummy. Unfortunately, the reality is that I’m sitting by myself in a McDonald’s. I have a sore leg I can’t hike on. I’m just staring blankly through a little paper cup of ketchup while rain distorts the view of an all too familiar town out the window.

While I’ve been back, inactive and waiting, the blues continue to accumulate as quickly as the pounds. I'm not a fan of sitting around and doing nothing. I'm not a fan of carbon-copy days. I need this leg to heal. I need to get to Florida.