Most everyone who reads this probably knows this story, but I’ll tell it again just for background on the “take 2” of this post.
One year ago today, my friend Jamie and I set out to hike McAfee Knob together (a first for both of us). We met up around 7 and hit the trail, we were having a great time until about 1.7 miles in. On this trail there are several large rocks that you have to step across… on one of these large rocks I had my left foot firmly planted in a groove worn by other hikers steps and as I went to step around the rock with my right foot I hit some loose pebbles and rolled that foot… as I began to fall my left foot was apparently stuck in the groove on the rock and this caused my ankle to break as I fell. Of course I wanted to believe that maybe it wasn’t so bad, maybe it was just sprained, maybe I could gently hobble back down the trail to my car… as I dug my heels into the ground to scoot myself back up on the trail I quickly realized that it WAS bad, it WAS broken, and no way in hell was I going to be able to get myself off this trail. So Jamie was on the phone with 911 trying to tell them exactly where we were located on a trail we’d never been on while I laid there thinking “oh shit, tomorrow is my holiday to work.” And “oh my god this is going to keep me off my feet for a while… I’m going to gain back all the weight I’ve lost” Luckily these EMTs have to rescue people on this trail quite often so they got to me pretty quickly, splinted my ankle, loaded me into a basket, loaded me with pain meds and then carried me about 1/2 mile to the fire road where the put me on an ATV to drive me off the trail to get me into an ambulance and head to the hospital.
At the hospital I learned that on my right foot the bone leading to my pinky to was broken and my left ankle was broken in THREE places.
So this trimalleolar fracture required a pretty major surgery placing two plates and 12 screws in my ankle. Followed by 8 weeks of bed rest and then another 6 weeks learning to walk again.
Obviously I’ve had some anxiety regarding hiking and specifically this trail, but a few weeks ago I asked Sunshine and Kim what they had planned the Sunday before Labor Day because I thought maybe I was ready to try this trail again. And maybe I liked the irony of doing it exactly one year after my first attempt and injury. They are both lovers of bad decisions and thought this would be a perfect recovery hike after their Iron Mountain race… so, ok. Kim, unfortunately, ended up scheduling other plans for today. I was secretly hoping Sunshine might be too tired or too sore from her race yesterday and cancel on me last minute, but I woke up to a message from her that she was headed back towards Roanoke and would be at my house around 11am so we could head to McAfee together.
I don’t know how many of you have been on this trail, but let me tell you it is not an easy peasy walk in the woods. I don’t know how many times I wanted to fake an injury just so I could be carried off again, is the view really worth this?! At one point the trail leveled off and was fairly rock free and I said “oh. Does it get worse again? because this isn’t too bad..” The trail heard me and immediately threw some rocks and incline back at me. I believe I’ve read Sunshine describe the last mile as “straight the fuck up” and she ain’t kidding. I had to stop about every 15 steps during this part of the trail. Is the view really worth this?! Yes, I’m here to tell you the view is 100% worth the torture it takes to get there.
Now, I’m not saying I want to go up there for this view frequently but I am glad I made it up there this time and also made it back down. Sunshine gave me a pass take the fire road back down, but honestly I’m not sure it’s much better than the trail. At least not when you have to walk it instead of riding on the back of an emergency ATV.
But y’all the most important thing about this is that I have a tribe of people encouraging me to do hard things and supporting me at every obstacle. Though Sunshine was the only person brave enough to take me back to McAfee, I have such a support system from my family, my cat lady BFF, my drinking BFFs, and my PlayFitStayFit family. When I was on bed rest for 8 weeks, these people jumped in to help me in such a way that I never would’ve expected. Find your people, take care of them when they need it. Help them when they don’t want to ask for help. Love your people.