Posted: Mon Jun. 18, 2012 2:52 pm
As the Stetson posting said, I had to take two weeks off to recover from a spider bite on my achilles tendon. It feels great now, and I have finally made it to Pearisburg which was a destination that I would have made it to a long time ago. It was nice to retreive my mail drop that had been waiting all this time at the PO. The Postmaster had to do a little searching, but eventually found it.
Though the spider bite incident happened in TN, it wasn't until I had hiked through Damascus VA, over Whitetop Mtn, and along Grayson Highlands that I was forced off of the trail. It would have obviously been better to take care of it sooner, but I happened to be in Damascus on Memorial Day which influenced my decision to keep hiking and avoid another zero day. Oh well. The highlands were great and very scenic at that point in the season with the blooming rhodedendrons, "feral" ponies, and nice rock outcroppings. I was enjoying the scenery, but also looking at my map in an effort to figure out what road would best get me off the trail due to my swelling ankle. Troutdale worked out best since the book said it had a medical clinic, though no store. So, I hiked out on VA 603 and went straight away to get some antibiotics. That day I met the Riggins family, who run the hiker bunkhouse in town, and got a ride with Ken and Gary up to the clinic. Ken and Mary helped me out everyday after that and made my recovery a reality. Though my main purpose of being in Troutdale was to heal, I also got to spend time with quite a few members of the community. I stayed at the bunkhouse, but got frequent visits from the Riggins, Charlie, Pete, and other hikers. Sometimes there would be invites to dinner, lunch, the community supper at the fire house, or a supper at the Riggin's where I could play their piano, make phone calls or paint with water color. Eventually, my Staph. Aureus infection started to subside after getting the swelling lanced and several days under antibiotic. I got the green light to hit the trail, but to limit hiking to half days. I never would have had the self control to hike half days, but luckily Ken advised that I should do a series of day hikes while staying in Troutdale. They dropped me off where I left off and would pick me up after the short section was completed. I think that that gradual break in period was crucial to my full recovery. It was great to get back on the trail for real and it is now 5 days into my return. I seem to be covering a lot of ground and the adjustments to my gear have reduced my pack weight significantly. In fact, my pack felt so light yesterday, that when Barry and Jody offered me a whole pumpkin pie to bring on the trail, I didn't hesitate and stuffed it in. I switched to a HMG pack that is smaller and lighter than my old Osprey by several pounds. I'm using a tarp style tent that utilizes my trekking poles for support (it does have a bug net). And finally, I'm now using an alchohol stove.
Well I'm just in town for a couple hours and need to think about getting back to the trail before it is too late to hike some more miles. It's always a steep climb it seems to get out of town, but the temperature is always significantly cooler once elevation is attained.
Until the next update,