This blog was first posted on The Trek here.
Hello! It’s been a long-time my friends!
I’d like to preface this blog by apologizing for being MIA for so long.
There are a few reasons for that, the first being I've realized it’s very difficult to keep things updated and feel creative while being exhausted from hiking and still trying to live in the moment during my thru hike.
Secondly. As most of you all know, I’ve was off trail for 32 days due to injury. And of course, because of that fact I really didn’t have much to say while off trail as I wasn’t 100% sure I would be continuing my PCT journey, and frankly I was depressed and didn't want to write anything.
However, I am very excited to announce that I am back on the trail and I have been for about 2 weeks. (Hallelujah!)
So, without further ado here is my next blog which will talk about why I had to get off trail, getting back on it, and all the hardships that came within this 32-day journey...
Getting off the trail:
One morning I woke up and couldn’t place weight bearing pressure on my right foot without excruciating pain. I knew I couldn’t continue hiking that day. And sadly, I was in a terrible part of trail somewhere 26 miles from the next town where I could rest. Thankfully, someone was around that was able to drive me to Idyllwild. Once I got there I was able to catch up to my friends who I haven’t seen since Mount Laguna which was a great reunion. (See my double zero on the PCT blog). My plan was to take a few rest days and get back on trail within a few days. I got an X-ray to rule out fractures and breaks. (Thank god)
Let's attempt to hike again:
One day I was feeling a bit better so off to hike I went… I was only able to get 1.5 miles in before I had to turn back around and go back to Idyllwild. My foot still wasn’t better. I was heartbroken. Thoughts like “what if this is the end of my hike?” or “How much longer will this take to heal?” etc all started to run through my head.
My new reality:
I was bed ridden with my foot pain for about 20 days trail angel hopping in Idyllwild. (Big thank you to everyone who helped me. I wouldn’t be back on trail if it weren’t for all your generosity)
In that time I saw and spoke to multiple RMT’s, PT’s, Chiropractor, ED doctor’s, etc.
Mentally being off trail almost broke me for a bit. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to fail myself or others who were supporting me or looking to me for support in their own healing. This was my dream. I needed to get back out there. I became pretty depressed over those 32 days because it was a waiting game. I hated not knowing what the future would hold for me and my hike.
My new plan:
Eventually, I chose to go home for my birthday to see my pup in hopes to bring my morale up. It definitely worked. (Side note: I taught her 2 new tricks because she is such a smart wonderful girl) I also saw two foot specialists. (Fun fact. I left my gear with a trail angel in Idyllwild to ensure I would come back, even though I knew in that moment I would come back, I knew that seeing my dog, I might try to justify staying home.)
Long story short to speed things up here, basically a SHIT ton of imbalances within my feet aided to the problem of my foot pain, so I got orthotics, new shoes, and orchestrated a plan of how to get back to trail.
Coming back to trail:
Cue the tears flowing. Oh and that anxiety came rushing right back.
Crying is constant between my laughing and crying of happiness and relief. (Anxiety brain at the same time telling me not to get too excited incase I injure myself again.... shut up brain, let me enjoy this moment)
I’m here. I made it. We are doing this again. I’m home. All my worries and fears are still right there with me because of my injury and the not knowing of if it will hold up or if I will re-injure myself again, but I pushed those worries aside and started back on the trail. (From the I-10. Which means I had to skip the 58 miles from PVC to Cabazon. I was extremely sad about this at first because I started out this hike as a “purist” but soon realized I’d rather do it another time and finish my hike then hurt myself again pushing to do San Jacinto. Also, I decided I will do it later this year or next.)
The fears/sadness of being back to trail: Thanks, Anxiety
Welp. Now because of this injury and time off I am now going to be hiking through the hottest part of the desert during the hottest time of the pct. I fear the heat I will have to battle now, the longer water carries ahead of me, sunburns, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration etc.
I am also sad that everyone that I hiked with before are all near or past Kennedy Meadows, which means I won’t get to see them again. (I hope for their sake I don’t see them again, if I did that would mean that they got injured themselves… and I wouldn’t wish this mental game on anyone) I wish everyone success and I hope they all stay injury free so I can get my sneak peaks of the Sierra Nevada via their photos haha.
I’m worried I’ll take too long to get through the trail and will be taken off trail in some areas due to wildfires now that I’ll be hiking closer to North Cal during wildfire season.
I’m worried that because I‘ll be entering Washington later as well that I might be traversing through winter and have to deal with some treacherous trail near the end of my hike
Nevertheless, I am ecstatic to be back hiking the PCT and as I always say, that’s all future Alyssa’s problem.
Final thoughts of getting back on trail:
All of my perseverance, determination, resilience, and pure grit made this happen.
Never give up on your dream. If you want it bad enough it will happen. I'm proof of that. Resilience, tenacity, determination, perseverance all got me back on this trail to finish what I started.
32 days later.
When speaking to hikers on trail and telling them what happened to me (after they found out my start date was March.26th so I had to explain) most people said that they probably wouldn't have had it in them to come back. I said back to them that if they wanted it bad enough they would fight for it. Just like I did.
So for anyone who is dealing with injury on the trail. Keep your head up. Have faith in your body and heart that you will come back. Whether its a couple days (which at the beginning of the trail in Mount Laguna I thought it was the end of the world..) or 5 weeks. You can get back on. It won't be easy. You might be over budget now. You might need to go slower then you want to to avoid re-injury. I'm starting at 10 miles average coming back and increasing by 10% every week. This means I will take longer to get through the desert. And that's okay. Because I will finish. Funny enough I'm writing this on a 10 day zero because I am sick and healing from that in Wrightwood.
It certainly feels like everything is against me to finish this trail. However, I will NOT give up. Because... to me, if I give up when it gets too hard some days, then I never deserved to hike the PCT to begin with.
I started with 2 days hiking with my mom when I arrived back to trail. Then 7 days on my own. Most of those days I camped alone as well. This gave my lots of time to reflect on the trail and why I'm here. It really strengthened my why tenfold. I wanted to give up probably 3 times a day during those solo days. The climb out of Misson Creek was brutal. I got lost. Shit my pants (yes you read that right), ran out of water, re-injured myself etc.
I will not give up. I have too much of myself to uncover and still discover. I have too much beauty of the PCT to still see. Coming off trail before I'm ready isn't an option for me because it's where I feel the most like myself, the most free.
And the adversities I face make me stronger each and every day. I'm never giving up on my dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.