Two Eagles walking

November 7, 2012

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, so said Steinbeck in “Of Mice and Men.” I concur.

I had the plan laid out, I was on target, I had done my research, I had recruited the best and the brightest, and everything was looking good.

To recognize my 55th birthday, I was going to backpack all of the Appalachian Trial in Georgia (a hike of about 76 miles, which I was turning into a close to 90 mile hike by doubling back on both ends to reach accessible roads for drop-off and pickup).

Then the blisters hit.

Day one, a hike of about 9 miles, I felt a couple of hot spots on both feet, but true to my typical form, I employed the “ignore it and it will go away; spit on it, rub some dirt in it, and keep playing” philosophy that I often do when faced with difficulty, pain, or injury. No pain, no gain.

Day two, in the morning, I admitted that I did in fact have blisters. I lanced them, slapped moleskin on them, and started hiking. By noon, I was readdressing my bandaging.

Day three, they only got worse. And by day three, my hiking partner was lagging well behind me.  For the record, he and I received our Eagle Awards from Boy Scouts together. We grew up literally around the corner from one another.

Day four, we hit the resupply point, picked up some much needed food and gear, and motored on. And I tried to ignore the fact that my feet were hurting like dog doo (an orthopedic surgeon once told me that IS a medical term.) That afternoon, I waited an hour and a half for my friend to catch up, so we could rehydrate and locate a decent camp site.

Day five, a challenging day, the feet were killing me. By the time we stopped at the end of the day, I was walking like Walter Brennan with arthritis (yes, I just dated myself by referencing Walter Brennan.) When “Holiday” (the trial name I’d given my partner and that he had accepted) and I talked, he said matter-of-factly, “Your blisters are not going to get any better.”

I looked at him and realized that he spoke the truth. My frustration was that my “motor was running great, but I had two flat tires!” As much as it killed me to pull the plug, we hiked about two miles out the next morning to a state highway, and his wife picked us up. I spent the weekend with my feet propped up, airing out.

Which has me on the hunt for a new, better pair of boots, the best blister protection plan in history, and strategies to knock off the rest of these 26 miles before I hit my 56th birthday.

In fact, by the time I post again—or by Thanksgiving—I just may have around 16 of those miles in the can.

Stay tuned!