One month ago, the husband (next Step) and wife (Which Way) team from The Washington, DC area, had a difficult decision to make. Which Way (Alicia) was experiencing a great deal of back pain from an injury suffered prior to their Appalachian Trail thru-hike attempt. It was decided that Next Step (Darrell) would continue on without his wife, while Alicia sought medical help in correcting her physical discomfort. Part of their posting on May 29th reads:
5/29/18 – Distance today: 17.1 miles
“Plot twist. Which Way is getting a ride into Charlestown to the Urgent Care from our trail Angels, Count and Lavender. She reaggravated an old back injury a couple of weeks ago and it’s just keeps getting worse. Hoping she can get some pain relief, but more importantly, some advice on fixing the problem. I suffered through a couple of years of back pain, so I know it’s no fun, especially carrying a backpack up and down mountains! Praying for good results today!”
Next Step has been moving northward at an outstanding pace since beginning his solo hike. He has averaged 17.75 miles per day for the 28 days of their separation. He has hiked through the four miles of West Virginia, the state of Maryland, the rocks of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and 15 miles into Massachusetts. The couple still has 470 miles to reach Mt Katahdin in Maine and most of the miles are difficult, challenging miles that will test the hiking skills they have accumulated along the way.
Next Step is thrilled to be reunited with his wife and looks forward to enjoying the trail with Alicia as they move north. Which Way had been spending time “healing” at her parent’s home in Kentucky. Her two-day drive to Massachusetts was filled with excitement to see her husband and some major fog that added some adversity on the roadways. Their reunion in Great Barrington, MA was sweet and they began to hike again on June 30th. They began their trek north with a rather slow, conservative pace, but a portion of their journal on July 2nd raised some concern from my perspective:
7/2/18 – Distance today: 12 miles
“When we started hiking at 0700 the temperature was still bearable. It would heat up significantly as the day wore on. Which Way was hiking without a pack today. I carried enough water for both of us. Unfortunately, it didn’t help her situation much. As soon as we started climbing, her back started hurting. It is very frustrating for her.
The trail crossed a gravel road deep in the forest about 9 miles into the hike. We decided it was best for WW to wait there while I finished the last 3 miles…..Which Way will rest tomorrow while I knock out some more miles. How many miles will depend on when I get started and how I hold up with the heat index well over 100 again.”
Which Way is one determined lady and she has hiked with physical pain, but the terrain ahead in New Hampshire and Maine will demand great effort and will cause a good deal of stress on her back. I hope that her injury will be strengthened each day and will be ready to face the White Mountains and the challenges of Maine. I will be anxious to see what the next few days will bring for this couple on their way north.