Anyone who has ever had a hiking partner knows how special they can be. Hiking partners are people you can stand to spend “23.5 hours a day” with. They’re the ones who are able to lift you up when you’ve fallen, physically or emotionally. They’re the ones with whom you share backcountry culinary advice (such as the wonders of cold Idahoan potatoes) and Dr. Bonner’s soap (when it’s days before the resupply box containing shampoo arrives) and something magical called Badger Balm. They’re the people who are there to hear you gasp at beautiful scenery and who enjoy retelling stories from the “Type II” fun you experienced. I generally hike solo, but the time I’ve spent with my hiking partners, such as Quiver, is time that I treasure.
From Mount Laguna to Warner Springs, I was treated to the company of another 2012 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, SunRoof. I met SunRoof when he came out of the woods and into the Burnt Rancheria Campground at Mount Laguna. After I’d identified myself as Rainbow Dash, he hurried to give me a hug from Gluten Puff.
Six miles into my hike the next day, I stopped to rest and was caught by SunRoof. We spent the next three days hiking and camping together.
For most of that time, I felt great. SunRoof and I put in three days of 19-21 miles, and I enjoyed every moment of them. Time and Doxycycline were working their magic, and I no longer felt ill.
I was having a blast contour-walking in the high desert, weaving in and out of shaded cirques. I was loving the array of colors the desert bloom brought to the desert and chaparral. I was enjoying the cool nights, the breezy mornings, the mid-day siestas, and the invigorating evening air. I’d met all of the hikers in our bubble and was appreciating the community formation. I’d figured out how to drink an appropriate quantity of water and rehydrate my food without a stove. I was hitting my stride.
However, I started to notice a nagging pain in my left heel. I doctored it by cutting some of the padding off the top of my shoe–and then by adding a moleskin heel lift inside my shoe. Thirty miles later, I needed to do the same with my right foot.
Maybe I was walking unusually in order to compensate for the knee pain I’d written about in Mount Laguna. Or, maybe, thanks to Lyme hijacking my spring marathon plans, I was not conditioned enough to be hauling large quantities of water up, down, and around mountains.
In any case, when I took off my shoe at the Warner Springs Resource Center it was obvious that something was very wrong: Where the profile of my leg should have been concave above my heel, it was convex. I had Achilles tendonitis.
So, currently, I’m RICEing in Warner Springs and trying to figure out what lies ahead. Is this just a little road bump that I’ll recover from in a few days, or will healing be more complicated than that? Here’s hoping it’s the former!
If anyone has any advice or words of encouragement, they’re more than welcome! I feel frustrated, but I also know that it’s still early in the game; there’s plenty of time to get to Canada.