Taking Paths Less Traveled

Joyful Hiker. Mother. Teacher. Adventurer.

Olancha Pass

I’ve been recovering from Plantar Fasciitis… Oh, yes, you’ve heard of it?! I hadn’t heard about it until I finally dragged myself into the doctor, exhausted, crooked from limping, and desperate. Now I’ve joined the PFF club! It seems that everybody who is anybody in the hiking community has had an experience with such fun as PFF.

I struggled with the PFF with 6 weeks before going to the doctor. As he injected the cortisone cocktail into my heel, I asked hopefully, “Will I be able to hike in 3 weeks?” I don’t know if it was how bravely I was receiving the injection (not very) or how pathetic and hopeful I was (very), but he told me that I most certainly could hike IF the cortisone worked. Just to be sure he understood, I told him, “It’s a backpacking trip, that I’ve been planning for ages, but it will be about 20 miles!” He insisted that I would be able to do anything I wanted to do.

Walking out of his doctor’s office, pain free for the first time in 6 weeks, gave me hope.

Fast forward 3 weeks later, his confident words were still in my head as we prepared to hike 3500′ gain in 2.5 miles up to Olancha Pass at 9215′. I held on to the fact that he had been right so far. I had been pain free and had even begun to test it out with doing more strenuous Yoga exercises. But, I hadn’t been hiking, I am embarrassed to say. 

Luckily, I wasn’t the only person recovering from an injury and about to embark on a strenuous hike. Two of my trail buddies’ were also recovering. How can someone say nicely, “I’m super glad you were injured too!” ???

Heading up Olancha Pass was very difficulty. My cardio/conditioning had suffered drastically from taking it easy on my heel for so long. The increase in altitude didn’t help at all! My ears were literally popping as we continued our ascent. The views were incredible though as we looked back over the desert of Owen’s Valley.  img_1521

The entire way I kept waiting for my heel to hurt, for my doctor to be wrong. Other things were hurting for sure! My shoulder was grumpy with me for carrying a 30 lb pack and my lungs were pissed that I was forcing them to work so hard after such a long hiatus. But, my heel just kept right on not hurting! 

I feel like I did really good too. At first I was lagging behind, grateful that the sweep was one of my injured friends. He doggedly kept on coming and I would wait for him. After we ate lunch I got a second wind and was staying with the entire group. Overall, the trip up the pass was arduous.

We reached the top of the pass after about 7 hours… Let me repeat… 7 hours to hike just under 3 miles. Now that I think of it, I cannot believe I survived what was to come on the rest of the trip.

(To be continued…. )

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