April 25, 2017
Hiking while healing a broken bone is no joke. It takes a great deal of energy to hike in the Appalachian Mountains, and it takes a great deal of energy to heal a bone.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting to hike with a cracked collarbone:
- First, spend two weeks recuperating in a quiet place.
- Second, find a hiking companion who will carry your food and community gear. The term, ‘sherpa’, may or may not come up in the negotiations. If you are lucky, the hiking companion is a much-loved husband (Jay) or wife or sister or brother or friend.
- Third, find an engineer to redesign your pack with only one shoulder strap, preferably across your good shoulder. Jay took the straps on my ArcHaul Zpack and rigged a y-shaped harness holding the pack onto my back.
- Fourth, wear a really good sling. I’m very grateful to my doctor for insisting upon an excellent sling for my arm.
- Fifth, listen to your body. The third week of healing, and simultaneously, the first week back hiking the AT, we only walked about eight miles a day. I knew it was time to stop when the fire and brimstone would start glowing inside my broken bone, usually sometime during the last mile of each day.
- Sixth, walk slowly, stopping often to admire the scenery. Walk slowly, stopping often to talk to your sherpa, um, I mean loved hiking companion. Walk slowly, stopping often to just sit and rest. Walk slowly.
- Finally, try not to gag when people on the trail say, “Oh, you’re so brave to be still out here hiking!” I am not brave. Bravery and courage happen when one takes action even though the action scares one silly. Although there are scary situations on the AT, especially regarding weather, I do not see hiking with a half-healed clavicle as scary. Perhaps I just have an astonishing lack of imagination. So what adjectives describe hiking while healing? Persistent – possibly. Pig-headed – probably. Set upon one course – certainly. Obstinate – obviously. But the adjective I like best was given by a local man walking his dog today. “You are one determined woman!” Yes, determined – definitely!
P.S. At all times, maintain a sense of humor!