[at-l] Well, that didn't work out,
Jim and_or Ginny Owen
spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 19 08:01:05 CDT 2010
so what’s Plan B?
That’s been our mode of operation for the last four summers. To recap – in 2006, we walked from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide Trail; in 2007, some of our hiking plans got derailed, so we used the time to find and photograph dozens of rock art (petroglyph and pictograph) sites in Arizona and Utah before heading for the Canadian Rockies to hike the Great Divide Trail; in 2008, a couple of broken ribs short-circuited the long hike we had planned, so we found more rock art sites and then drove to Alaska; in 2009, we spent a month on the PCT before a torn meniscus sent us home for surgery – after which we spent the rest of the summer touring New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
And then we got to 2010. Our lease ran out at the end of February and we’d committed to being part of the wedding party for a very good friend. So what to do for 7 weeks? Since we hadn’t been on the AT in the South since 1992, with a little help from a friend (Thank you, Pilgrim) we went to Georgia and started hiking north from Springer Mountain on March 1st – in 6-10 inches of snow. After 10 days of slogging through snow, ice, rain and fog we decided this wasn’t the “fun” hike we’d planned. So we left the AT, picked up the truck and headed to Florida. And, with the help of a couple friends (Thanks Joan and Jon) we hiked a section of the Florida Trail through the Ocala Forest before heading for the Everglades and southern Florida – lots of birds, alligators, flowers, sunshine and warm breezes. Then we visited a couple more friends (Hi Jean – Hi Sandy) and made our way north via the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive to Beau and Ninon’s wedding in New York. After which we raced back to Maryland to stuff the packs and send the mail drops for what was supposed to have been a continuation of our 2009 PCT hike. That worked – for about 3 weeks. Until Jim’s bionic knee started doing strange things, which then required a visit to an orthopedic surgeon who drained a LOT of fluid (~70 cc) from the knee and advised Jim that he was too old and feeble and that long distance hiking was not a good thing to be doing on his new knee/at his advanced age. Ri-i-ight!!!
So we took 2 weeks off, visited Ginny’s brothers in Arizona, spent a few days driving through California, and then took the train to Dunsmuir, CA (northern California) to start hiking south on the Pacific Crest Trail again. Wrong. On June 1 there was still a LOT of snow in northern California – and the first 20 miles of trail south of Dunsmuir was clogged with the second worst mess of on-trail blowdowns that we’ve ever encountered. (#1 is still the David Thompson Trail in Canada). By noon of the second day the bionic knee was again barely functional, so that was the end of our 2010 PCT hike – and the second time in two years that we flew East to consult Jim’s ortho surgeon, who drained another 40 cc of fluid. Unfortunately, he had (has) no clue as to why a titanium knee is acting like it has advanced arthritis. We’re still working on that.
We’re also working on Jim’s feet, which is an even greater problem than the knee. But that’s another story for another day.
Since we can’t hike now, and don’t know whether another long hike will ever become possible in the future, we’ve spent the past two months looking for a new home in southern Pennsylvania, living in the back of the truck, mostly at the local state parks, with a side trip to visit Beau & Ninon and their seven beautiful dogs. Just HAD to see the puppy.
We finally found a house about 3 miles west of Chambersburg. Not “perfect” but it’s what we think we need right now. While waiting for the house to become available (September 1 it becomes ours), we decided to do another adlib road trip – this time down the Blue Ridge to the Smokies and then back to Pennsylvania via the back roads in West Virginia. It’s a short jaunt – but summer in the mountains is nice however you do it. Even without a backpack, we can look for wildlife (four black bears in the Smokies and lots of deer along the Blue Ridge), and spend lots of quiet time camping and enjoying the lush green forests, wild berries and late summer flowers.
After we get settled (which may take a while considering the chaos in our storage unit), Ginny intends to look for work and plan changes to the garden, while Jim will likely spend some time adding to our rock art pages on the website.
As to what comes next – we have no idea. The past four years have been exercises in improvisation. Every trip was made up as we went, with many unexpected gifts along the way, and surprisingly few real problems. Before we hiked the CDT the first time, Fiddlehead told us, “In order to succeed on this trail, you have to be flexible.” We learned that lesson well. It hasn’t just applied to our long hikes – but to every aspect of our unusual lifestyle. So, come what may, there will be another plan C or D…. or Z. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy a little comfort in our own home, work on repairing the knee and feet, and return some of the hospitality that has been offered to us the past few years.
Y'all have a good day,
Jim & Ginny
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