Agony of the Feet
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I think my downfall with my feet came right before Damascus. I challenged myself to go from Watauga Lake Shelter into Damascus in two days, and did it. Two approximately 20 mile days were more than my feet could take. I even did some jogging (big mistake.) I was in so much pain when I arrived that I remember saying no to a picture of myself under the arch. I just wanted to get to the hostel and put my feet up.
The blisters you just deal with, they come and go. I wish I had a picture of the big one on my heel that filled with tiny river stones as we waded in a river one hot day in Tennessee. I had to cut the top layer of skin off of most of my heel to get them all out.
The one thing I never really figured out was the electric shock that I got when bending over. It originated in my right ankle and went up my leg to my knee every time I leaned forward. It didn't hurt, it was just very annoying. Healer adjusted me in Damascus and helped my sprained ankle tremendously, but the "electric shock" didn't go away for weeks. I changed to trail runners in Damascus which was a big mistake. I suffered with them for 3 weeks and went back to my boots.
I wear custom orthodics and had a pair of Expedition ones made before I left. In hindsight, I should have had 2-3 pairs made. I think that was my big downfall. When my custom ones died, I spent the rest of the trail trying to find the right combination of boot, insole, and medications to keep me comfortable. I wasn't willing to take the 3 weeks off to have another pair made.
My feet have yet to return to normal. I attended a conference in Harrisburg the beginning of the week and walked the half mile from the hotel to Temple University and back every day. Only one mile a day and my feet are killing me. I'm concerned that they'll never be right, but yet I don't regret doing the hike.
LeapYear and I are doing the 15 miles before Waynesboro after Trail Days. It will be my first hike since returning from the AT and I'm really looking forward to it.
Our thanks to Journey, 2003 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, for submitting this article about her experiences on the Trail.