Tuesday, June 16, 2009
110, 73... Eh, what's the difference?
Just got back from my 4 day Appalachian Trail trip a day early. More details, pictures & even video to follow. Briefly, here's what happened...
Day 1: Got dropped off 1 mile below Springer Mountain, ran up & when I got back to the parking lot, I tripped (Maintaining balance is hard with the pack- even if it was just 14 pounds. A normal trip that you can recover from leaves you on the ground with the pack on.) and fell right on my chest. CRACKED RIB. 2 miles into my 110 mile trip! I felt it- even heard it crunch. I could've called Jennifer then & told her to come pick me up, but I kept going. With side trips to get water & going back to find something that fell out of my pack, I ran/hiked about 29.5 miles the first day. Camped just below Blood Mountain where there has been frequent bear activity lately. Only got about 90 minutes of sleep because of rib pain. Scared a bear off in the night.
Day 2: Started out OK, but every step hurt my rib. Running made it worse & the worst part was that the busted rib is right at the sternum strap of my pack. 6 hours into it, I faded, but ended up taking 6 more hours! 26 miles in 12 hours! Granted 2 hours of that was treating water, hanging out at the Neels Gap store, talking to people, etc., but still. I called my mom at mile 22 and asked her to pick me up a day early. I didn't think I could make it a 4th day. Got to the top of Rocky Mountain after dark and camped by myself. A nice 1,100' climb when it's dark & you're miserable is a great end to a day!
Day 3: Started out feeling great! Rib hurt, but felt energized. Believe it or not, my muscles never hurt. Knees, calves, achilles... everything fine. With getting lost & long trips for water, I ended up with 17.5 miles at Dick's Creek Gap for a total of 73 miles for the trip. Besides the shorter distance, today was the easiest day with significant climbs at Tray Mountain, Kelly Ridge & a few others, but a lot of downhill too. Also some of the only flat I saw the whole trip... albeit for only 500' at a time.
I feel good about it. I could've easily bailed out before I did but I stuck with it, and while slowed down considerably, I hung in there. Saw a lot of wildlife (2 rattlesnakes I nearly stepped on, turkeys, hawks, chipmunks, deer...), saw some great views & tested myself a great deal. I think I could've gone 5 more miles today & 15-20 tomorrow for about 95, but I was happy to be picked up when I was. On day 2, I wasn't entirely sure there'd be a day 3... come to think of it, I wasn't sure about day 2 on day 1.