As some of you know, our planned 2020 PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) thru hike was derailed before it began. We (Bruce and I) went out to California in March last year so we could try out some new equipment, get used to the time and climate change–it was still winter in New Hampshire when we left for CA– do some PCT section hikes to get a feel for things, only to have the PCT closed along with all the State and Federal parks and forests in the country due to worsening Covid a few days before our 4/4/2020 start date .
It was a tremendous disappointment, not the least of which was that we were left with about 300 portions of granola I had made, 500+ meal bars, enough high calorie snacks and freeze-dried dinners to last the 2 of us for 5 months on the trail, and more toilet paper 5-square strips than you could count! Much of the food would expire and needed to be used up. We’re still trying to finish the granola and lots of the snacks and bars 10 months later. The silver lining? We were some of the lucky few who didn’t need to worry about running out of TP during the Covid run on the stores.
To summarize our past 10 or so months, I stayed in California for 3 months to help care for my 3 grandchildren who were quarantined at home. It was a WONDERFUL extended time with them, and one of the few silver linings in the Covid cloud. Bruce returned to New Hampshire, and hiked in our White Mountains many days a week.
When I returned to New Hampshire in mid June, I felt the true crushing disappointment of our cancelled hike (really, it was always more than just a hike for me.) As a way to make myself get out of bed in the morning, I started hiking a New Hampshire “grid list,” trying to check off as many of the 48 four-thousand foot mountains as I could hike each month on my grid list, and helping out with my quarantined New Jersey grandkids for some time each month. Both helped tremendously to dull the pain. I felt so lucky to see my grandsons (their entire family was quarantined at home as were Bruce and I so we had a little safe “bubble” there until my daughter-in-law was called back into work.) I also feel tremendously lucky that my family has continued to be healthy and thrive during this difficult time.
Fast forward to November 2020–I had what turned out to be a serious “trip-up” on a hiking trail which I thought was a bad sprained ankle. After 2 months of resting, cooking too much food, jumping into the new national baking past-time, and waiting in vain for the ankle to get better, I saw an Orthopedic foot specialist. An MRI showed several torn tendons and torn ligaments. Some of the damage appeared to be old, which went along with my long history of frequent ankle sprains. Bottom line, it probably wasn’t going to get better.
I had the option of surgery (a LONG recovery process, much of it off that foot and no guarantee I would be able to get back to hiking,) or trying a cortisone injection to bring down the swelling/inflammation to the point I could again walk on the ankle with a stiff brace on it. It was an easy, if temporary choice for me. I had the injection, am slowly re-habing the ankle, and did my first mountain–Mt. Moosilauke–a few days ago. There’s still pain, but it’s tolerable right now. The surgery will come later, as the ankle needs to be fixed.
The PCT still calls me, and I was lucky to get a permit for 2021! Bruce decided the trail is not for him this year. He’ll be along eventually to do some hiking with me I hope, but he’s waiting for his new man-toy, a van he’s having converted into an RV, and prefers the comfort of the RV over our saran-wrap thin tent, along with the rain/snow/hail we experienced on the trail last March. He’ll be part of my support team.
Will my ankle hold up over 2,650 miles? I don’t know. Will I be able to hike up and down the 489,000 feet of the PCT? I’m trying not to think about that, and will take it a day at a time. And then there is the desert, the heavy snow in the Sierra and Cascade mountains, the icy cold stream crossings, the aloneness–I don’t know about those things either. I just know that at 70 years old, I won’t have many more chances to try this, and I would rather try and not be able to do it all, than never try and forever wish I had.