Let’s cut to the chase – my left foot did not heal during my time off the trail. In fact, it hurt worse when I got back on the trail. So, I bailed.
Setting the Scene
Yosemite was fabulous. I did some hiking, I drank some overpriced cocktails, I was enticed by seasonal employment, I sat around a campfire with some wine and swapped deep thoughts. My foot pain did not go away.
The Sacramento airport was great too. Cheapest airport food (and perhaps the best) I’ve had all summer, eaten while chilling in a corner and scrolling through photos of my cousin’s wedding.
The chocolate cakes I made for the dessert portion of the celebration of my Grandma’s life were pretty good too.
I meant to head back to Ashland, where I had gotten off trail, the day after the memorial, but honestly I was exhausted from the non-stop action, was waiting on a replacement sun hoodie to arrive in the mail, and hadn’t quite got my resupply boxes for Crater Lake and Shelter Cove together. I delayed a few more days. During this time, my mom and I worked out a plan for her, my dad, and an Aunt and Uncle to join me in Northern Oregon for my Mom’s annual birthday backpacking trip. I would need to cover lots of miles – averaging close to 25 miles a day for 15 days to meet them.
At this point, the arch pain in my right foot was gone, but the left foot still hurt while walking, but seemed to be over all less painful than when I was limping along behind my friends in Ashland.
Back to Trail
After exploring my options on how best to return to Ashland, I settled on taking the Amtrak to Eugene and transferring there to a greyhound that would take me to Medford.
The morning of departure came, and my parents dropped me off at the trail station, and I was off.
I passed my hours on the train and bus by writing blog posts, watching Heartstopper and Riverdale, and I arranged for a trail angel to get me from Medford to the trail head that evening. Once on the Greyhound, a lanky dude came up to me and asked if I was a PCTer. His name was Sequoia, and he was hoping for a ride from the bus to trail. I happily told him I had a ride arranged, and after checking with her, I told him he was more than welcome to join me.
By the time I got back to the PCT, it was another 12 plus hour travel day. I hiked about 3/4 of a mile to the first water source, set up camp, ate a granola bar for dinner, and went to bed.
My internal clock woke me up early, and I was off to the races. I dug my cathole with my brand new trowel, prepped my oatmeal for my breakfast break and zoomed out of camp. Except, most steps hurt. I put in decent mileage to breakfast, passing Pilot Rock, which was pretty neat, and grabbing a juice out of a box of trail magic someone had left at a dirt road. By the time I hit breakfast, my left foot was in pain at every step.
The oats were unenjoyable.
I plugged in for the next hour or so – I was planning on listening my way through all the Taylor Swift albums and using that as a blogging theme. Let’s just say her first album wasn’t my favorite of her works. I had my course set on the next water source where I would get off my feet again and refill on water, then hike to lunch. On my way, I passed some day hikers, some PCT hikers passed me, and my foot steadily got worse and worse. The pain pulled on the muscles in my shin, and occasionally wrapped around to the ball of my big toe. I tried hard to look around me and appreciate the pretty wildflowers, but quite frankly, I didn’t give a shit. I saw the flowers and the trees and it brought me absolutely no joy. I couldn’t even pretend to believe that no pain meant no gain. How could this be happening – I just took over a week off trail, resting and icing my feet. My right foot had healed, and my brand new shoes felt like clouds on the bottoms of my feet. I’d left behind my stove and cooking gear, my spikes, hat, and gloves, so my pack was lighter too. I knew my left foot hadn’t healed all the way, but this felt so much worse than before.
As I approached the water source, I could hear the day hikers chatting a ways behind me. I realized I had an option – I could ask them if they were headed back to their car at the upcoming trail head, and if so if they would be willing to give me a lift back into Ashland, or wherever they were going. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until they were passing me and I spoke up – “This is really awkward, but…”
And that was it. I had just quit the PCT. It was that simple. They say not to quit on a bad day, and I definitely just had.
I dropped a load of cash on a flight from Medford back to Seattle, and flew home that evening. I made a virtual appointment with Blaze Physio for that weekend, and an in person appointment with a sports medicine doctor in Seattle for the next available appointment, about a week and a half out.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek’s ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.