I’m off trail again. I woke up this morning, packed up my gear, was in some discomfort, but started hiking anyway. The pain amplified when I put on my pack. It was like a constant charley horse in my calf. Everything, all the muscles, tendons, ligaments, were so tight I was sure that they were going to snap. Stretching didn’t help. Every few steps I stopped and bent forward to relieve the pressure on my leg. I only made it a quarter of a mile before I stopped and turned around. I walked back to the campground where Pepa and the Ref were just getting up. In tears, I told Pepa I couldn’t hike. It was probably about as hard for him to hear that as it was for me to say it.
I made some calls and arranged a ride to the Free State Hiker Hostel in Smithsburg, MD. The Ref carried my pack up to the road for me where I waited for Mary to pick me up. At the hostel I called my folks and weighed the options. I’m 98% sure I have piriformis syndrome. The piriformis muscle sits deep in the butt cheek. Mine is super tight and is spasming which is putting pressure on my sciatic nerve which causes pain in my butt, all the way down my leg. I don’t have the pain in my thigh much anymore. It is concentrated in my calf now and in my butt. I also have some loss of feeling in my toes. The pain ranges from uncomfortable to excruciating. I have the most trouble sitting and walking with a pack.
I’ve already spent a week off trail dealing with this. I’ve seen a traditional doctor who gave me a cortisone shot and prescription medications. I don’t believe that helped much. I saw a physical therapist three times who taught me some stretching exercises. That helped a lot, but I stopped going, because I was able to do that work at home. The physical therapy allowed me to walk again with much less pain, for which I am incredibly grateful. What I want is to be able to walk with a pack with less pain. Tomorrow I am going to see a chiropractor in Hagerstown, MD. I really hope he can help me. If he can, then I can get back on trail and life will be good. If he can’t, I may have to go home to recover. If I recover within a reasonable amount of time, I can come back to the trail and finish this year. If I don’t recover within a reasonable amount of time, I can come back to the trail next year and finish. I could spend more time off the trail out here too, but that would get expensive fast.
I am hopeful. My condition has been improving and my flexibility is increasing. Only time will tell now. It would absolutely break my heart to leave the trail, but I’m not going to make that decision until I’ve exhausted all other options.
In other news, this hostel is pretty nice. Very comfortable. It is run by a former thru hiker and his family. It’s basically the second floor of their house. There are custom built bunk beds, a full tub and laundry is included. Plus there is a computer which makes writing this long blog post easier. Oh, and I’ve got the entire place to myself, which is kinda nice. Thanks for all your warm wishes and concern about my health, readers. Still trying to beat this thing. It’s curable, it’s just that treatment could take a while. Dreaming of better, pain free days and good hiking…