Monday, August 11, 2014

Need my knees or why I'm postponing

I did a stupid thing.  Multiple stupid things really.  These are on top of all the other stupid things I've ever done, but especially relevant at this moment.  This one's made me pretty sad, so I haven't been posting much since I find it hard to talk about myself when I'm unhappy.  

Towards the end of June, I went mountain biking at the New England Mountain Bike Association festival with some friends.  I had been training for the presidential traverse attempt the week before and hadn't been biking much.  So after riding for six hours two days in a row after barely riding at all for weeks, my knees were both very unhappy.  No problem I thought, and gave them the week off before trying a 30 mile backpack in the Pemi with a friend.  If I was going solo I probably would have taken the weekend off, but I had canceling on friends and the knees felt ok.  Everything was fine until descending a steep rocky trail to Galehead hut when the right knee really started hurting.  I stretched them both out and we went up a quick jaunt to Galehead, took another break and then part way down thirteen falls to camp early. 

The right knee hurt bad the next day, so we skipped Owls head and headed straight out, still a solid 13 miles on a bum knee.  It hurt for a week, even sitting at the office hurt. I iced, stretched, massaged, rested, everything.  They started to feel better again right before another hike with friends up to Mt. Carrigain, but I re-injured them again on the descent, again not wanting to cancel on friends.  More time off, more ice, more ibuprofen.  Things were looking shaky for my year of through hiking and I decided I wanted to switch the order anyway.  If I do the AZT in March, then do the CDT and finish on the Te Araroa I'll have an open ended schedule to travel in NZ and SE Asia rather than having to plan for the CDT.  Still, I wanted to do the Wonderland Trail and the trail maintenance I signed up for right after, September 4th and the 12th.  

Last weekend they were feeling good again, at least on short hikes in the Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills so I went up to try and bag Owls Head again with my friend Anne.  I needed a test to see if I should buy the plane ticket for the Wonderland trial.  This was only 2,500 or so feet of elevation gain and we did a little last minute research with the help of our White Mountain expert friend Pam on a bushwack going to the north to avoid descending the slide and hurting my knee.  

The hike in went well, we took our time and I swam in three spots in icy gushing water of the Pemigewasset River and Franconia brook.   Pam told us about some camp sites right by the path to the Owl's Head summit, so we stopped there a little before 4 and decided to make camp.  It was a good decision since we spent about two hours bushwacking through thick deciduous trees until hitting and old logging road.  The complain a little, then more on the descent down Franconia Brook trail to our campsite, only getting worse whenever we stopped.  I iced on the way home, then used heat and ice last night along with more ibuprofen.  It still hurts today, stiffening up after sitting at work.  Occasionally I can crack it and it feels better but it's in bad shape.

There's no way I can do the Wonderland Trail - 96 miles with over 20,000 feet of elevation gain/descent is not going to happen in three weeks.  I made a doctors appointment for Wednesday but only a nurse practitioner was available - hopefully she can send me to physical therapy and the recovery process will get started.  I haven't had much luck with physical therapy in the past so I was reluctant to try again but this is getting out of hand.  Hopefully I can still do the trail work, I'd really like to see the PCT again.

So for now the plans are to do the AZT in March and into April, then the CDT from early May through September, then the Te Araroa from early November of next year through winter. 

Keep your fingers crossed.  


  1. I just posted a comment and realized it was under some obscure name I made years ago to be able to post on things. This is Dandy Greens. Rest up and take care!

  2. Ouch! The way those stops and starts can hit is truly regrettable. If they can be avoided, the better. Muscles work like that. They endure pain, but also get hardwired into conditions and will tend to function based on such. If they are suddenly tensed, you'll know it. If they aren't worked out, they lead to atrophy. It is indeed advisable to pace our activities, but it is doubly so to trust in medical solutions to manage their application.

    Agnes Lawson @ MedWell Spine, OsteoArthritis & Neuropathy Center