Friday, August 1, 2014
Home > Appalachian Trail Bloggers > Red Light, Green Light

Red Light, Green Light

Initially I had planned on an April 1st start date for my hike.  Being that it was April Fool’s Day and so many of my friends and family thought (and probably still think) this is a fool’s errand and my name being April, it just seemed appropriate.  But as time went on and the anticipation was building and the realization of the monumental task ahead coupled with my inexperience and, well, let’s face it…my general lack of physical preparation, I decided to move up my start date to allow myself some more time to accomplish this feat and started my hike on March 8th.

Well, after 3 days on trail, I was exhausted, sore and totally frustrated with the lack of speed and distance I was putting out.  Sassafras (Kick-my-assafras) and Justus Mountains tore me up.  My achilles tendon popped and ached all the way down Justus and I was already mentally preparing an exit article to write.  You know, something noble along the lines of the great Achilles being slain and how I was now sharing in his fate. RED LIGHT!

But I’m no quitter, no siree…so, after some recoup time and lots of encouragement from my fellow hikers and Summit Sisters yet to get out on trail…I picked myself up and got back out there.  This time I still wasn’t making the mileage I wanted, but I wasn’t sore and I resigned myself to just enjoy my hike regardless of the miles.  GREEN LIGHT!

Well, that is a great idea, but there is also the reality of the time constraints on the other end of this trail.  Baxter State Park will close and access to Katahdin will be cut off at the latest Oct 15th, so I still need to be realistic about covering the turf in between Georgia and Maine.  That’s when I took a good look at the numbers and decided that I will just have to continue to do my best and if I haven’t covered as much ground as I need to make the Oct 15th deadline, then I can high-tail my bootie up there and start heading southbound to complete.  Not near as dramatic nor my prefered course of action, but by George, if that’s what I have to do to complete, I’ll do it!

So, happy little me hiking along the hills of Georgia develops another problem…back spasms.  I have 2 bulging discs in the lumbar region of my back and arthritis in the lower back as well.  This is not new news for me, but generally I don’t have too much problem with it aside from the usual morning stiffness.  But….on occassion, I will develop paralyzing and agonizing back spasms that drop me to my knees like my legs have turned to jello.  This is not good nor is it safe to hike since I don’t know when these spasms will hit and I don’t need to risk having a serious fall that could leave me in worse shape or end my hike altogether, so again I leave the trail and this time, I decide to take my butt home to Oklahoma.  RED LIGHT!

It’s been great to see my husband and son, but it’s killing me to be here when I want to be out there.  So, I’ve got some anti-spasm meds in hand and am making a few adjustments to my food drops (carrying too much food) and hopefully within the next week will be back on trail and crossing off my first state.  GREEN LIGHT!

About Loon

A happily married housewife who grew up in the Cumberland Valley of south-central PA surrounded by farmers & factory workers, ya know, good ole fashioned American folks that work hard, love God, country, and their families. I enjoy writing and believe life should be approached with healthy sense of humor. I've served my country (U.S. Navy '83-'88) and have tried to serve my family and my God well. I believe that we are never too old to play and that when we quit playing, we grow old! Spread joy, it's free and does the body good!
  • http://www.melandmikehike.com Melissa “Click!” Goodwin

    Hello Loon!
    I’m a 2011 NOBO alum and friend of Badger. I wanted to send out some words of encouragement because as soon as you said “Sassafras” I was transported right back to Georgia! I have literally felt your pain on that string of mountains we called “Ass Kicker 1, 2 & 3.” I know in the beginning of a thru-hike, you can get really nervous worrying if you’ll make it to Maine in time before Baxter closes. If I can give one piece of advice, I’ll just say, relax. It takes time to get your trail legs (and back, feet, hips…) In a good 4 -6 weeks, you’ll be amazed at your sudden ability to leap small mountains in a single bound — or at least without having to take a breather. You’ll be able to make up your miles when your body is ready. It’ll be a lot easier on your psyche too when the hills get a little flatter. If your back is killing you, my advice would be to look at everything you’re carrying and see where you can comfortably pare down. You don’t need to go bare bones, (I carried a 4 1/2 pound camera with me on my thru-hike), but I guarantee you there’s some stuff in there you can live without for 6 months. Other than that, know that trail towns and resupply options are abundant along the way. You really don’t have to carry a ton of food.
    Best of luck! The trail memories you’re creating are the stuff dreams are made of!
    ~Click!

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