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Day 83: Stuck In a Rut

Posted by on July 28, 2015

July 22, 2015 (16th Re-Ration – Burney Falls)
Cassel Fall River Road (1407.5) to Burney Falls State Park (1423.6)
16.1 PCT miles today
1458.0 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 534 ft, – 1,131 ft

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We hiked 16 miles this morning, and wanted so badly to just keep going. Instead it looks like we’re once again going to have to hold back and allow things to heal before moving on. It feels like just when we get settled into things and really on a roll, something forces us to slow down or stop. We’re hoping that this final delay will put things right and allow us to take off for Canada in perfect health and with happy feet.

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This morning we all managed to wake up super early, pack everything up, and get back on the trail exactly where we left off by 6:30am. Mama Bear headed back to the state park to get some work done while Pickles and I settled in for a nice flat and fast 16 miles. The morning hike went by without a hitch. My newest “injury” hurt a bit, but I was able to ignore it and instead focus on the intense nostalgia I felt in such an oak-dense, spiderweb filled, warm environment. I felt exactly like 6-year-old MapQuest running around in Sly Park while camping out with Mama Bear.


Pickles and I were hauling right up until we happened upon Wildbird Cache, the coolest and most impressive on-trail cache we’ve seen all summer. I forgot to take note of the couple’s names who manage it, but they deserve a standing ovation. It’s right on trail and has everything from a solar shower to a solar charging station to a pantry, ice chest, and picnic table with umbrella. The best part is that everything is stocked and fully functional. The pantry held tasty canned goods and delicious snacks, the ice chest had all the fixings for hot dogs, as well as sodas and the much-craved snack of green olives. They even had a camera there so hikers could take pictures of themselves to share with the Angels. The whole setup blew us away and also delayed us by about 30 minutes, as we couldn’t pass up enjoying a few treats with The Optimist whom we just met today.

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Our goal was to hike into Burney Falls right at noon, so when we realized we were going to be about 30 minutes late, we started jogging portions of the last few miles. It feels so good to run on this trail because of the accelerated speed compared to walking and the endorphins that kicks in the second you stop. It actually felt better for my heel too, since I could put more weight in my toes in a running gait. It paid off and we arrived in front of the state park entrance at exactly noon, where we found Mama Bear using the wifi and outlets. After cleaning off in a nearby water spigot, we all hopped in the car and headed for town. The plan was to get lunch, visit a doctor, and then make a decision about what we’d do next.

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Lunch was all-you-can-eat pizza, salad bar, and soda at a local pizza joint called Geppetos, and it was a pretty awesome deal. From there we headed to the Burney Health Clinic and were lucky to find ourselves in the care of a very kind and supportive staff. The receptionist, nurse, and doctor were all helpful and had all the answers we needed. To make a long story short, the doctor stated right away that the problem on my foot was a “staph infection” which she explained is quite common and could have happened anywhere at anytime. She even doubted that there was much connection to the cortisone shot (though it still seems likely to me that the reduced ability to fight infection in my heel would have let it spread). She said mine was a mild case, but since I’ll be hiking on it, she decided to treat it a little more seriously. She suggested 3 to 4 days off it until antibiotics have time to get rid of it, but the most we can give it, without driving ourselves crazy with cabin fever, is a day. She said “some rest is better than no rest”, so we’re going with that. As treatment, the doctor took a small culture (which we’ll get results on next week and will only matter if they find I need a different antibiotic), gave me a shot of antibiotic in the booty to get the ball rolling sooner, prescribed me a 10-day antibiotic, and recommended I stay off it as much as possible and keep it clean and elevated. Also, warm compress for the infection and ice for the swelling. So I guess in the end, it could have been worse, but it’s still a bummer. We really feel like we’ve been off trail almost as much as on over the past couple weeks, and we didn’t plan on taking another zero until Ashland. But we have the time, Mama Bear is going to stay with us one final day, and hopefully this will all be over and done with within the next week.

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We spent the afternoon grabbing some groceries and then relaxing at the state park. This evening, after failing to locate a rumored BBQ put on by some other hikers, we started a little fire, ate chili cheese dogs and s’mores, and are now settling in for a night and day of rest that we’re hoping consists of lots of healing. I’m quickly learning that “staying off my feet” is probably my least favorite directive, as it means I am basically useless and can’t do much of anything, so I guess this time can also teach me a bit about humility and rest. If nothing else, I am positive that we’ll feel more than ready to go when we finally get back on trail day after tomorrow.

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