Day 28: Hard-won victory

Silers Bald Shelter [mile 194.3]

Another majestic morning. I slept warm. The sardine next to me decided he wanted half my sleeping pad. On the other hand, I was snoring so loudly that I kept waking myself up. The poor guy was probably subconsciously trying to smother me into silence. 🙂

The first big hill led to a whole new kind of pretty—a sea of grasses and sparse trees on a big bald, with mountains all around. Their folds of earth and shadow made them look like an alien landscape. Gorgeous.

That first six miles was as hard as it was cracked up to be. I never could have climbed those hills yesterday. But it led to a dilemma. At 1 o’clock in the afternoon, after only 6 miles, I already had hamburger feet. Nobody else seems to be having this issue—believe me, I’m asking. I’m actually thinking that 15 years of stomping barefoot on tatami and concrete wore away the padding on the soles of my feet.

I can manage 11 or 12 miles, but the last two involve a lot of tears and baby stepping. Have you ever baby stepped for 2 miles uphill? I’m going to pick up some gel insoles in Hot Springs, but I have to get there first, and this shelter rule is killing me. I hate the Smokies with a white hot passion. . Very ironic, since it was in the Smokies that I first heard of the AT. Which I keep meaning to write about, then forgetting.

So anyway, I already had the hamburger feet at Derrick Knob Shelter. I pulled out the guide and realized it was going to take me 11 days to get through the park. Most hikers do it in 5 or 6, and the permit’s only good for 8.

I was sitting here gnashing my teeth and looking for a sign from the heavens about what to do, when who should appear hiking southbound but Preacher! Remember him? Knee injury. It ended his hike back around Deep Gap. But he got out and saw his doctor buddy. Turned out to be his IT band. The doc told him to stay off it for 3 months (and said he knew he wouldn’t). And there Preacher was, hiking.

How could I whine about foot pain when Preacher was hiking? So I decided to try for the next shelter.

I made it. It was fiercely difficult. Tears, hamburger, yada yada. But 12.8 miles.

Also? I blew my nose on a rhododendron. Not proud.

Sparky and his daughter and I are the only ones here. I’m still looking at probably 10 days to do the park. We’ll see.

I’m grateful to have a warm place to sleep. So tired of being cold!

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Day 28: Hard-won victory

  1. You are just flat out amazing.

  2. writer77

    Hamburger feet are a typical ailment for A.T. hikers. I suffered from that condition at the outset, but it eased up some – until Pennsylvania! As your feet toughen you just get used to it and after awhile it’s more like background discomfort than nagging pain. I’ve heard some hikers have had success with various insoles, but I’ve not investigated them. Sail on!

    • That’s the best news I’ve heard all day! And I live right in the rocky part of PA, so I know whereof you speak. 😉

  3. Sock liners seem to work for me. Changing socks a couple of times per day also may make a difference. When I was in the Army, we changed our socks every two to four hours depending on long hikes.

    • I did add a second pair of socks, and that seems to be helping a bit!

      • The sock liners are a special thin sock that fits tightly under a regular hiking sock. Any outfitter should have them. I’d be happy to mail you some if need be since I am surrounded by REI stores here in the DC area.

      • That’s so kind of you! Thank you! It’s not necessary, though. I’m actually wearing Injinji toe socks as my primary sock (and haven’t had a single blister), so I can’t wear liners underneath. I’m currently wearing a Smartwool over top for some extra cushioning. Might be too hot in the sumer, though. Still experimenting!

      • Good luck!

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