The short story: I broke my foot and left the Pacific Crest Trail near White Pass (mile 2298) on Labor Day, about two weeks shy of the Canadian border….
The long story: What a summer…. I have been back in Oakland for forty-two days now and not one of those days has passed without prolonged reflection. I still have more questions than answers and continue to be baffled/amused/depressed by my run of bad luck.
To be exact, I broke the second metatarsal in my left foot when I stumbled on a root coming into the Columbia Wilderness, south of Cascade Locks. Not realizing the severity of the injury I continued walking, for another five days and 120 miles. By the time I got to the desolate forest service road (5603) north of Mt Adams Wilderness my body, no longer able to ignore the pain, insisted that I seek medical attention. Fortunately it was Labor Day and with relative ease I was able to find a ride to Packwood, the nearest town.
The next morning I caught another ride down to the hospital in Morton. I was obviously concerned and really did not know what to expect but remained optimistic, figuring that the doctor would tell me to take three or four days off before resuming my hike.
My foot was swollen like a balloon and hurt like hell. The doctor was initially shocked and then impressed not only by the size of my foot but with the fact that I had hiked on it for so long.
The x-ray technician exclaimed from an adjoining room, “You did it!”.
“Did what?”, I asked suspiciously.
“You broke it good”.
The following morning, with a fancy Air Cast snug around my leg, I was on an airplane bound for Oakland. Upon return I went immediately to the hospital to meet with an orthopedic specialist and get a second opinion. The doctor in Morton had cautioned me that if the bone was not properly set it might require corrective surgery. The specialist determined that surgery would not be necessary, fit me with another cast, and told me to come back in 8 weeks. They don’t even make crutches to fit someone my size – who would have guessed?
So the journey is over for now. By the time my foot heals winter will have taken firm hold of the mountains, rendering the trail impassable through much of Washington.
The transition for me has been difficult. It is hard to return under normal circumstances from an extended wilderness experience. No doubt the injury has further compounded the process – I have gone from walking 30+ miles everyday to having to rely on someone else to shop for my food.
In closing I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported Nick’s Long Walk. While we did not meet our ambitious financial goals we did raise some money and perhaps more importantly we raised awareness about the need to make the wilderness more accessible.
It has been a privilege to meet and work with all the good folks associated with Bay Area Wilderness Training. I want to offer special thanks to Kyle Macdonald, executive director of BAWT, for all the time and energy he has put into making this fundraiser a success.
All told, it was an awesome summer…. and I plan to return to Washington next summer.
** Kyle and I will be hosting a final event / slide show in San Francisco or Berkeley in early December. Details will be posted as soon as they are available. Upon completion of the event we will make a final tally of dollars raised. Additional contributions are welcome. Thanks again for all your support.