Steve had me take a picture of him and his reduced family... Journey (the dog) and Annie (the cat, age 15.) It made Annie mad. (if you look closely, you can see that even the dog & cat want to leave) steve
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Steve had me take a picture of him and his reduced family... Journey (the dog) and Annie (the cat, age 15.) It made Annie mad. (if you look closely, you can see that even the dog & cat want to leave) steve
Monday, March 30, 2009
This will be my last blog post before starting the Appalachian Trail. That way I'll still have a day to read and respond to comments :-)
I'm not scared, but I'm going nutz. I thought I was all set but then I unpacked everything and planned more stuff for Steve to send me and organized that and... now my stuff if all over the camper again, with one more day to go.
I went into the Amicalola Falls State Park office today, where the hiker registration book is. There's a hanging spring-scale outside, and when you register, you give your real name, hometown (what'll I put? I don't live anywhere...) and your pack weight. I browsed the last several days of starters, and most packs were 35-45 pounds. Mine is about 30. One guy listed his as 100 pounds. Could that be real? What's he carrying, firewood? Maybe he just wrote something dumb. The guy before him had listed his pack as 10 pounds. That could be possible; 3 days of food, no tent (sleep in shelters), hi-tech lightweight clothing, no stove (eat cold food)... it could be done but I wouldn't try it myself as a relatively new hiker. I want gear!!
Tomorrow I'll go down and register myself. I can't do it before starting on Wednesday, b/c I plan to start about 7a.m. and the office doesn't open till 8:30.
While I was there I saw a young fellow starting up the approach trail. It was 2p.m. The approach trail is steep, rugged, and 8 miles long. He was going to have to book it to get to the first shelter by dark. Or.... he could just find a flat spot and pitch his tent.
I am not doing the approach trail. Steve is going to drive me to a place where a Forest Service road crosses the trail about a mile into it. We're going to walk back to the trailhead together, then turn around and walk the first mile together. I love that. The fact that my husband is so much in favor of my hike and has done so much to help me get ready and support me, is one more sign to me that God likes this idea.
In addition to wanting to walk the first mile with Steve, I don't want to do the approach trail because I think it's an extremely strenuous first day, 8 miles straight uphill carrying a 30-pound pack. Maybe if I hadn't been fighting tendonitis for so long, but as it is, I'm not going to try it. The Lord has helped me heal and given me all kinds of affirmations, so I'm not going to go stupid on Him and tackle that climb my first day. There have been lots of people who've quit their hiking plans partway up that trail. "If it's going to be like this, I can't make it." I want to give my tendons a fighting chance!
You find all kinds of stuff discarded on the approach trail as people toss stuff trying to lighten their packs. (Maybe the 100# guy's firewood or whatever will be there!) One of the things often found on the ground is Bibles. People get inspired and take a whole full-size Bible with them. It's one of the first "unnecessary" things to go.
I tore the Book of Psalms out of a pocket Bible and am taking that. I'm also taking 50 pages at a time of a Dean Koontz book. Steve will bring me the next 50 pages at each of the 3 places he's meeting me, and mail them to me after that. Except.... darn, I've already mailed myself 3 boxes, and guess what I forgot: my book. I'll have to wait till after the Smokey Mountains to find out what happens next, I guess!
Anyway, I'm off. Wednesday. But I'll try to respond to any comments to this post. Our connections is hopelessly slow here, takes minutes to load anything or change screens or send anything. But I'll try.
Wish me luck. Wish me well. Wish me Godspeed.
As I wish it all to all of you. Old friends and new.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
It's not like this is goodbye for six months. He's going to meet me and bring me food in 4 days, again 3 days later, and one more time before I get out of Georgia. THEN I'm on my own. Till Maryland, when he'll be able to meet me a few more times.
We're here. I'm ready. But I can't go yet.
I've got business to take care of tomorrow: paying the last of my stupid medical bills incurred during the summer: my physical therapy, the oral surgeon, the dentist, the emergency room (that humdinger panic attack.) Running into town for a few last-minute items.
I need to write out the list of post offices where I'll be stopping, and send it to my mother.
I need to wait for my friend Sally, who's doing half this venture with me. She and her son left Winchester, VA today. She's starting her hike with him via the approach trail, which she really wants to do, on Tuesday, spending the night somewhere at the top. And I'm starting from the top on Wednesday. Somewhere Wednesday, we'll catch up to each other.
It often happens that people who've planned to start and stay together, find they develop different goals as their hikes evolve. It's kind of like in a marathon: you start with a friend, then one gets tired and lags behind, or the other feels full of pep and wants to go faster, or one stops in a porta-pot and doesn't want the other to blow her race by waiting for her, and they end up each running their own race. That's the code of the road: Run your own race.
It often happens this way on the Trail. You hike your own hike. So we may stay together, and we may not. Time will tell. It's like the headlights.... you can only see so far ahead.
I LOVED that sermon. It, like many other experiences in that Southern Gospel Lutheran church, changed me life.
Anyway, so I'm hanging around waiting for the next two days to pass. I sewed a new buckle on my tent. I fixed a broken drawstring in my rain pants. I got inspired and made a pair of fleece mittens from scraps I had lying around... traced around my hands, cut them out, and sewed them together. I examined my sleeping bag to see if it might be better for me a foot shorter. Decided against that. Debated sleeping in my tent tonight to assure myself one more time I can hack it below freezing (it's cold here.) Steve talked me out of it. I think he wants me to sleep with him :-)
I'm as buzzed as a bee. I feel like I've had too much caffeine. I took a pill: I don't want one of those cursed panic attacks, like the one that felt like a heart attack and landed me in the hospital. They're not born of anxiety exactly.... they're adrenaline surges gone awry. And I've got plenty of adrenaline going. I do *not* want a friggin' panic attack. So I took a pill.
Many thanks to Fiberjoy for her beautiful story about me on her blog. What a lovely friend. Thank you, Friend Fiberjoy!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tonight we're at Chewacla State Park near Auburn. It's forested and quiet. Weather tonight is quiet and cool. I've been sitting out at the picnic table playing my (well, Steve's, really) Irish whistle.
Washer and dryer in the bath house are each only a dollar, so I did a load... not sure what our prospects will be between here and Amicalola. It's funny, such a big endeavor ahead of me, and I'm thinking about the laundry and a good price for the machines. They're about 10 times as close to us tonight as they were at the N.O. campground!
I've been going through the last month's worth of email, making sure I have addresses and phone numbers of all the people who have offered to be available if I should need anything coming through their area as I hike. The world is full of beautiful people. It's one of the ways God shows Himself.
Three more days. No more "Eeks!" No more "Yikes!" Just, "Thank you, Lord.... let's get started!"
Friday, March 27, 2009
I've gone through my backpack yet again, with my list, and I think I've got everything. Most of the mess is finally gone from the sofa, table, and bedroom floor. I had to accomplish this before I could start getting the camper ready to go on the road tomorrow.
For those who may not know, we live in an RV, have for the last 5 years, sold our house to our son, waved goodbye and hit the road.
So I'm used to living in a 300sq. ft. space, but I'm NOT used to living out of a 3800cu. in. backpack! This has been far more complex than packing my transition and special-needs bags for the Ironman.It's amazing what I've decided I don't need. And there are those who are amazed at what I've decided I DO need.
Three sets of clothes:
- Basic hiking outfit: running skirt w/ the undershorts cut out (I didn't like them, they rode up my thighs), bright yellow longsleeved tech shirt from Gasparilla Marathon 2005; microfiber underwear (black to match the skirt), SmartWool socks. The skirt, ass opposed to shorts, makes it easier to add and subtract the following:
- Slightly warmer layer: microfiber stirrup tights; short-sleeved blue tech shirt from Vermont City Marathon 2007. (I think it will be more versatile to layer short tee over the long one, whose sleeves I can push up to make it short.)
- Warm layer: Midweight running tights, fleeze half-zip ls top.
Rain jacket and rain pants over some or all of this if needed. Two additional pairs of socks. Knit hat, knit gloves, the 2pr/$1.49 in Wal-Mart kind.
And that's it. No clean changes of anything but sox, which get changed every couple hours in rotation with others that have been airing out pinned to the backpack. You wash your underwear and dry it overnight. You wear your rain clothes in the laundromat while your travel clothes are in the washer.
I do have sleep clothes: cotton yoga pants (not good for hiking, cotton is cold and heavy if it gets wet) and a ls silk shirt from the Salvation Army. You're not supposed to wear your grungy hiking clothes for sleep because they yuck up your sleeping bag.
My full backpack without food or water weighs in at 22.5 pounds. Four days' worth of food, with one extra supper in case of a delay, plus a quart of water, bring it to 30 pounds. Some think this is too heavy. Others are astonished it's that light.
The weight will start decreasing within hours as the food and water get used up. Water -- I probably won't need a quart at a time while hiking; creeks are plentiful on the southern AT, and running full this time of year.
Here's how I really look!
I'll be posting a complete list of what's in the pack. Right now, though, I gotta get back to getting this camper ready to make the trip from New Orleans to Dawsonville, GA.
Five more days!!!!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
One of the oddball things I'm taking on the Appalachian Trail is an Irish whistle. It belongs to my husband -- he has a whole set of them in different sizes and keys. I could, if all goes well, be gone 5-6 months, and I have never gone that long in my life without a musical instrument.
It's small, light, tucks between all my gear and the side of my backpack, and is easy to play. Having played music all my life, I've figured it out pretty easily. I'm not saying every tone comes true yet, but I can play it.
I'm not going to regale my campmates with concerts. What I want is to be able to play a soothing melody, usually a hymn, in my tent before settling down to sleep.
The ones I'm doing, which I've worked out as relevant to hikers (especially me):
- This is My Father's World
- Simple Gifts
- Just As I am
- For the Beauty of the Earth
- Oh, Master, Let Me Walk With Thee
- Amazing Grace
- Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart
- Aura Lee (Love Me Tender)
- Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
- All Creatures of Our God and King
The last two, I plan to play just about every evening, one or the other, as a scale warm-up. Then two rounds of just one of the others. Nothing involved or annoying... just a, "Goodnight everyone, goodnight, moon.... goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere."
Sunday, March 22, 2009
So I'm sorry to leave. Today was my last Sunday there.
For a couple of weeks I've been singing a song I haven't heard for awhile, "Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart." I was going to sing/play (guitar) it on that recording my mother and I made at Christmas, but I had no voice for 10 days. I really like that song. I've been singing it around the campground for awhile. I started thinking, I could sing that in church... I could ask the pastor if I can do a musical offering, I could find out if the organist knows it.... naw, that would be too pushy. They don't know me from nobody. I'm that white lady that's been going to church all winter. (I've often been the only white person there.) Should I sing? Should I ask? No.... sure, why not.... no.... But alone I've sung it over and over and just felt so happy, thinking how thankful I have been for this church all winter.
I ended up not asking.
But in the middle of the service.... guess what the sermon hymn was. You don't have to guess, do you??? I kid you not. And it's not in the hymn book. The words were printed in the bulletin.
They sang my song, without my having mentioned it.
People ask all the time whether God ("if there is a God") hears and answers prayer. If you ask me, this was a direct hit.
I was thunderstruck. I got to sing it after all, along with all the people around me. Way better than a show-off solo.
Other songs today that felt like affirmations of my hiking hopes:
The choir did a song with the refrain, "We've come too far by faith to turn back now."
Then the communion hymn was, "Just As I Am."
"Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without...
...... I come."
After church, when I shook hands with the pastor, he told me to go wait for him in the office. Uh-oh, what'd I do? Turns out they had parting gifts for me. A Bible with "Holy Cross Lutheran Church" embossed on the front; on the inside cover, the pastor and each of the elders had written a blessing note, including, "Let His word be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path." "Walk with God.". I had told the pastor a few weeks ago about my plan to hike the Trail, the day I got the ditty bag with the earplugs. Also in the package was a little glass paperweight etched with the words: "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" And a little lapel pin shaped like a nail spike with the word "Forgiven" on it. I'll take that on my hike. There was also a beautiful cross to hang on the wall.
I can't describe how much this church has meant to me. They have been so full of joy and thanksgiving and faith in spite of having had their homes destroyed, their church destroyed, their neighborhoods destroyed.... they have changed my life.
I don't know for sure that I'll finish my hike in Maine. I don't know what's ahead. But that's OK. One of the sermons at this church was about the Light of the World, and the pastor talked about headlights. He said, you can't see everything with your headlights, but you can see what's just ahead, enough to keep on going. It's like that with the Lord, he said. Trust and your way will be lit just far enough for you to take your next step.
So I don't know what's ahead in the next 6 months but I'm pretty darn confident that I'm intended to start hiking.
God gave me a "Yes."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Especially interesting to me in that he's a "neighbor" from the New Orleans area. I don't know him, but there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet. Like most of mine :-)
It's good to know they take the ATV's up there. The day last spring when I did my tendons, I never thought of that -- only that I was inaccessible by both ambulance and helicopter and would have to hoof it or be carried on a litter by rescuers also on foot. I never thought of ATV's.... Granny MacGyver here still can't get used to these newfangled ideas.
I'm glad "Sarge" is OK and reassured to hear how smoothly his rescue went!
Friday, March 20, 2009
I'm in a scramble getting things done and ready, that I've procrastinated on for too long.
Last week when we had 2-3 days of rain predicted, I put my tent out. It leaked. Panic! I want walking in the rain wearing my rain gear. It leaked. Panic!
Buy a new tent. Buy new rain gear.
Both pretty much out of the question.
I discovered what was wrong with the tent. Last summer when I put in a new window, I put it away intending to seal the new seams eventually, but I forgot. So I moved the tent under the roof of the campground pavilion till it dried, sealed the new window seams, and put it back out in the rain. It stayed dry! Score one!
I ordered some Granger's 2-In-1 Waterproofing, which came today, and which I will launder into my rain gear tomorrow. Today I just washed everything really well to prepare them. Stay tuned for the results.
My tendons are still tender. But I've been walking, with a little over 20# in my backpack. I'm currently breaking up 5 or so miles into 2-3 separate walks: one in the morning before I start working, one on my lunch break, maybe one in the evening. BunnyGirl's Kinesio Tape is helping amazingly.
Still waffling about what clothing layers to take. I keep logging onto The Weather Channel page for the forecasts in the first few towns on the Trail. Steve, however, will be work-camping in northern Georgia till the middle of May, so for my first 3 weeks or so he'll be able to bring me what I need if my needs change. How very lucky I am..... he is 200% behind me in this. He really wants to see me make it.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I'd made this lentil stuff... lentils, dried carrots, dried onions, granulated garlic, tomato-sauce "leather" with basil. I took a chance and put together a lot of it and bagged it up w/o having tried it first.
So tonight I tried it, hoping it wasn't awful, which would require opening a lot of bags and taking it out.
No worries. It's YUMMY!!! I have it in about half my bags; the other half have split-pea soup (with carrots, instant potatoes, powdered milk, and my ever-present garlic and onions.) I'll tell you, after I ate the WHOLE hiker-appetite-size portion, I wished I had it to look forward to every single week.
The split-pea soup will be good, too, but, oh, my, I don't know if it could be as good as this lentil stuff.
I found that it takes more water and more simmering time than I'd anticipating. That's good to know. I'm glad my JetBoil stove simmers! Also, I'm taking a plastic peanut butter jar for the purpose of pre-soaking my suppers -- put them in the jar with water at lunch time and then cook up the pre-soaked stuff in camp. That will shorten simmering time and save fuel. I didn't completely cook the vegetables I dried; just blanched them enough to stop enzyme action to prevent whatever minimal deterioration might occur in dehydrated food over 6 months. So even when they're rehydrated, they'll need to cook a little.
I LOVE that lentil stuff. I'll make more for here at home before I hike.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Fiberjoy dehydrated 5 pounds of broccoli and sent it to me, along with a bag of beef jerky, and dried cranberries, and PayDay bars. PayDay's.... she remembered they're my favorite for hiking/biking etc.!
BunnyGirl sent me Kinesio tape for my tendons. They improved immediately as soon as I put it on. I'd been struggling with athletic tape that ripped my skin off and didn't allow stretching. What a difference.
Carlene in Canada sent me a JetBoil cookset. Super-compact and super-efficient and a total surprise, last summer when I was going through a bad time.
Clyde, a member of an Appalachian Trail hikers' email group, sent me a beautiful Feathered Friends down sleeping bag that he doesn't use anymore. I'll need this warm bag until June/Virginia and then again by August/New England. I have a lighter summer bag for warmer conditions.
ShirleyPerly has offered to transcribe my journals to my blog.
Carlene has been my dear friend for a long time. I met Shirley at IMFL, and got to see her again, and meet her sister JadeLady, in Austin. The others..... we've never even met. And yet all these people have done these astonishing things for me.
Thanks to my friends, I'm not so "MacGyver'ed" anymore. Maybe I should change my Trail Name to "Grateful."
With friends like this, how can I fail?
Sunday, March 08, 2009
But then things happen. Like a couple Sundays ago when, in church, I got a nice ditty bag and EARPLUGS.
Today something came from church, too. Nothing material. Just a reminder that I have the right to realize my hopes and dreams.
The church is Lutheran, with a strong Southern Gospel flavor. It's the most amazing hybrid and I love it!! Hand-clapping, dancing, arm-raising, hallelujah, then WHOOSH.... we're back through some kind of demographic warp to the Lutheran liturgy again. I am the only white person in the congregation unless there are guests. No one seems to notice.
Anyway, in the Lutheran Communion service there's a prayer sung after collection of the offering, that goes like this:
"Let the vineyards be fruitful, Lord,
And fill to the brim our cup of blessing.
Gather a harvest from the seeds that were sown
That we may be fed with the Bread of Life.
Gather the hopes and the dreams of all,
Unite them with the prayers we offer now.
Grace our table with Your presence,
And give us a foretaste of the feast to come."
It was the collection plate held up in offering with the words, "Gather the hopes and the dreams of all, unite them with the prayers we offer now," that struck me today. This Trail hike has been a hope and dream of mine for 42 years. I feel it was included in the "hopes and dreams of all" that were offered and united with the prayers we offered.
This is not our home. We are visitors to this Earth, we're here for but a short while. While here, there are things we want to do, things we want to see. When someone is visiting with us, or when we're visiting with someone, we want to help them do and see what they hope to, while they're with us. I think it may be the same way with God, the Host of our visit to earth. He wants us to experience the pleasures of the trip and to be able to do the things that are of interest to us. He's a good Host.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
We leave for GEORGIA three weeks from tomorrow.
We leave for Georgia three weeks from tomorrow.
Can it be?????
I've got all my food done; now I just have to line up 24 bags and drop one of everything in. Oh, and add the broccoli to my Turkey Tetrazzini, after Fiberjoy finishes it up for me :-) Honest, she read my blog post about being able to find lots of okra but not much broccoli, and she bought me 5 pounds and is dehydrating it. And we've never met!!
Another friend I've never met is sending me a down sleeping bag. Mailed it yesterday.
People are talking to me as if I'm going to walk to Maine.
Am I actually going to walk to Maine? Of the 2,000 or so hopefuls who start each year with that intent, only about one in ten make it. There's a 20% dropout rate in the first 30 miles (mostly people who start with a 60-pound backpack expecting a smooth, groomed path.)
There are things you do without, in order to keep your backpack to 1/4 of your weight (that is, 1/4 of your ideal, not necessarily current, weight.) Like changes of clothes. You have some but it's for changing weather conditions, not to have clean clothes. You don't get clean clothes until you wash your hiking clothes in a laundromat in town while wearing your rain jacket and pants.
I saw a guy on the trail last spring wearing a shirt that said, "Same shirt. Different day."
I'm wearing my Keystone Vermont City Marathon shirt. It'll remind me to hang in there. That was probably my worst-ever marathon in terms of sticking with it. But I got a nice shirt :-)
Going to bed now. Resting my darn tendons. If I have to hike with tape on my tendons, I will hike with tape on my tendons. I will not let my AT keep me off the AT.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Honest, I'm still making preparations to start hiking the Appalachian Trail, April 1, 4 weeks from yesterday.
I'm up to my ears in bags of dehdrated food. Organization is a challenge, considering we live in a 300 sq-foot RV with nowhere to spread stuff out except the table, sofa and bed.
24 servings (one a week) each of:
Chili (with dried ground beef, beans, dried tomatoes and tomato sauce, seasonings)
Turkey Rice Tetrazzini (dried ground turkey, instant brown rice, broccoli that Fiberjoy is drying for me, isn't she unbelievable?, seasonings)
Corn chowder (instant mashed potatoes, dried corn, powdered milk, dried onions, seasonings)
Ham/Potato Casserole (Packaged scalloped potatoes, individual-serving-packs Spam, green beans)
Lentil Soup (Lentils, dehydrated carrots, dried onions, dried tomato sauce, seasonings)
Red Beans and Rice (as implied, plus ham soup base and seasonings)
Split Pea Soup (Split peas, packaged instant mashed potatoes, dehydrated carrots, seasonings)
That's 6 suppers per week. The 7th day (or whenever I hit town) I'll eat Real Food in town. Probably from the McDonald's $1 menu but it won't be dehydrated. A bonanza will be an AYCE buffet.... AYCE meaning "All You Can Eat" like Shoney's, which happens here and there on the Trail.
Lunches: tricky, since I don't eat much wheat to save digging cat holes. I figure on trail mix, beef jerky, peanut butter out of the jar, dried fruit, PayDay candy bars. Snickers bars are traditional on the Trail, but PayDay has more protein, isn't as sick-sweet, and doesn't melt.
Breakfasts: Oatmeal is the standard. I like granola, but often it contains wheat. I could also cook exra rice with dinner and save it for breakfast, add powdered milk and sugar and a handful of raisins, maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon, and have something resembling rice pudding.
I've spent the evening with various combinations of clothing and 2 sleeping bags determining the warmest arrangement. I have a 20*F synthetic youth-size mummy bag, given to me by someone who no longer needed it. Yes, the youth bag is plenty large enough for this little old lady. If I encounter a cold snap in April in the mountains, I'll start adding layers of clothes:
Running tights + fleece top
Sweater-knit tights + acrylic cardigan
Rain pants + rain jacket
+ Sleeping bag with nylon liner
Even if it's cold enough that I'm not toasty warm with that arrangement, at least I won't freeze to death. I slept out in this bag in Winchester, VA to 24*. I won't say I was cozy but again I wasn't in danger of freezing. And I didn't have all those clothes on.
I've got a Therma-Rest Women's Pro-Lite 3 sleeping pad.
And a square of closed-cell foam from Wal-Mart to give additional cushioning under my hips.
I've got a little bag with emergency fix-its: first aid and gear-mending.
I've got another little bag (that I got in church) for toiletries and bedtime needs (including the earplugs that came in the bag when I got it in church.)
I've got a JetBoil stove given to me as a surprise by my good friend Carlene from Ontario. It boils a pint of water in 2 minutes (faster than a microwave) and/or simmers until the Betty Crocker scalloped potatoes are done.
I've got mid-weight and warm-weight clothing (as described above) mostly scored from Goodwill and the Salvation Army but also including my Road Runner Sports running tights and a nice fleece top from my friend Sally, who's hiking with me to the halfway point (assuming either of us old ladies makes it that far.)
I've got 3 pairs of SmartWool hiking socks and a pair of NorthFace gaiters to keep stickers and gravel out of my shoes. These were all sold to me for less than the retail of 2 pairs of the socks by a member of the Women Hikers Yahoogroup.
I've got Marmot Precip rainwear.
I've got a one-person Eureka! tent that Steve got for a bicycle trip about 7 years ago. Still good.
I've got my Go-Lite Women's Quest backpack.... trying to fit everything into it.
I've got my Achilles tendons taped. Yes.... they're bothering me again. They seemed good, I'd hiked as much as 11 miles carrying 20 pounds, then one day about 10 days ago I decided to jog a smooth easy mile (jogging was OK'd by my physical therapist, up to 5 miles/week in addition to hiking) and they've been sore since then. I alternate between panicking and shrugging. Shucks, I've had Achilles tendonitis for years. At worst I've taken a week or two off and then continued marathon or Ironman training. Crap on it. I've got 'em taped to limit motion. I'm taking ibuprofen to decrease inflammation. I'm stretching my calves (not the tendons.) I'm icing. I'm continuing to plan. I've got a month. I've been here before.... a month out from whatever and my tendons ailing. Crap on it. I'll hike with a lift in my shoes and tape on my legs if I have to. I'll hike till I can't walk. I'm going. This is a setback. This is a scare. This is a test. Everything is ready to go. I'm going. People hike the Trail with knee braces; I'll hike it with Achilles support. That's why God made hiking poles, to take the weight off. I'm going.