Tuesday, May 3, 2016

An Unexpected Birthday Surprise

Saturday morning was quite sad, as Dad dropped us off at the trailhead one last time. Saying goodbye to him and Stacey was really rough. Not only because we had so much fun with them that first week, but also because it meant that "true" trail life was beginning. No more slack packing or sleeping at the condo.

We hunkered down this weekend and decided to increase our daily mileage a bit. We did thirteen miles on Saturday, sixteen miles on Sunday, and did a little over 17 yesterday. We really lucked out with the weather this weekend. Every day was calling for rain, but somehow we managed to make it to the shelters before it started raining each day. From what I was told, it rained pretty heavily most nights, but with my ear plugs and a few Benadryl, I wasn't awake enough to notice. The high mileage felt good until Sunday when my right IT Band (on the outside of my thigh) started rubbing against my knee and creating lots of pain. What's amazing is I can almost run uphill with no pain, but my first (and subsequent) step on the downhills is excruciating. I somehow managed to push through the pain (with a few ibuprofen) and make it to camp. This does, however, lead us to the Birthday surprise.

After a particularly hard downhill yesterday, I met up with our group to find out that they had a plan that would get us into town last night (a day before our planned resupply) and would allow for us to take a "zero" today. A zero is a day with no hiking miles. I was ecstatic! I knew that the only way my knee was going to get any better was with rest. The only caveat was that we had to hike one mile further than where we were supposed to tent last night. I didn't care, I was game. I was already nervous about losing the group by taking a zero on my own, so when the group proposed this idea, I was super excited. This way I could rest my knee and the group could stay together. I know, realistically, that it's unlikely we all finish the trail together... But it's nice to have a little trail family at this point.

So after trudging through 17+ miles yesterday, we get picked up on an old forest service road by the sweetest woman named Beverly! She was a hoot and had us laughing all the way to our hotel. Once in town we naturally had to shower. I've never seen the water in the bottom of the tub so dirty. Once we were somewhat clean again, we made our way to a Mexican joint where I devoured the largest burrito I've ever seen. This was after multiple rounds of chips, salsa, and queso. All of which was washed down with a large beer. There is a term for the insatiable hunger that us hikers start to acquire as time on the trail passes and it is simply called: Hiker Hunger. I experienced this after a few weeks on the Long Trail and I think it's finally starting to set in here as well. Bring on the all you can eat buffets! All in all it was a great Birthday, and I'm glad I was able to spend it with my new friends.

Today will be spent doing laundry, shopping for the week's food, icing and resting my knee, and probably eating a lot. Hoping a day of rest, ice, and good stretching will be enough to get my knee back. If not, I'll just do shorter miles for a few days. We'll see how it goes. Love and miss you all!

Also, I cannot thank enough everyone who took the time to send me a text, email, or Facebook message for my Birthday. It really helped me push through the pain yesterday. I'm so fortunate to have all the love and support behind me from my friends and family!


  1. Sending good energy for those knees!

  2. Happy belated birthday, Daniel! You are a good writer.

  3. So proud of you! I know we have talked IT issues in the past but I feel your pain and know how mentally strong you have to be to push through it! You rule!

  4. LU Daniel. You can deal with your IT band when you're dead! Total faith in you however it unfolds!

  5. Sending positive energy for that knee!!