A week ago today I tripped on a tree root and sprained an ankle.
“When do you get your trail-runners back?” Enterprise asked me as we hiked down from Mather Pass in mid-June.
“Promise me you’ll be more careful then, those ankles will be unprotected.”
I’d just tripped on the steep rocky downhill and scraped up my knee, so my friend’s caution and concern were entirely justified. I’ve never been great at the whole sustained attention thing, so even at the best of times I’m a bit of a klutz. Out here I’ve tripped so many times that I suppose I’m lucky it took 947.5 miles before one of the times I went down resulted in an actual injury.
Lucky for me, I have an amazing friend named Enterprise who hiked 11 miles he didn’t have to hike just to make sure me and my pack made it safely back to Tuolumne Meadows.
As Saturday, June 30 began, I found that the most remarkable part of the day was merely the number of hikers we ran into who weren’t thru-hikers. We were in Yosemite after all, and it was essentially a holiday weekend, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to run into so many people with “normal” lives, but it was weird not running into any PCT hikers aside from Enterprise.
We got to Tuolumne Meadows in the late morning and, hungry hikers that we were, made a beeline for the food in the General Store, gorging ourselves on bagel, avocado, cheese, and bologna sandwiches (cheaper than the burgers next door). Then once our hiker hunger had been momentarily sated it was safe to shop for the resupply. Between this all-important food business and some socializing with other thru-hikers, it was afternoon by the time we hit the trail again. We planned to hike a little over 8 miles to put us at 15 total for that day. There were some rocky bits, but overall the terrain was the flattest, easiest, and safest we’ve walked in hundreds of miles.
I’d promised to be more careful, but with such easy terrain, it was easy to let my attention wander a bit. I took a step, and then next thing I knew I was down, having felt a crack and sharp sudden pain as I fell.
“No! It can’t end right here, right now, like this!” I was terrified.
Luckily Enterprise was right there, and he helped me off the trail and out of my pack. My ankle hurt, and it hurt bad. I was crying because of the pain and because of the fear, but luckily when we checked we found that nothing was broken. I was in too much pain to hike any further, so Enterprise found the closest possible campsite and then came back to walk me to it, even giving me a piggy-back ride up the hill from the trail to the spot he’d chosen and then going back for my pack.
I felt so useless as I watched him set up camp for both of us, but I was in too much pain to try and do anything but watch. That night it was bad enough Enterprise wondered aloud if he’d have to carry me the 5.5 miles back to Tuolumne Meadows.
Luckily with the help of some ibuprofen, I was able to hike out the following morning. It was slow going at first, even with Enterprise carrying my pack for me, but by the time we got back to the road I was hiking faster than some of the non-thru-hiking backpackers. I hiked 5.5 miles in 6 hours, which is one of my slowest days yet, but I suppose it’s not too bad considering the circumstances.
Oh and don’t worry, I’ve made sure to stay off of the ankle since Sunday. It’s healing, and I hope to be back on trail sometime in the coming week.