Sunday, June 8, 2014

What's Up Doc - (6/7)

750.9 to Cottonwood Trailhead
3.5 miles 

Last night after I finished writing the blog post Mandie and I were talking about thoughts and concerns about the upcoming sections; we have Forrester Pass to do in the next couple of days, the highest pass on the PCT at over 13,000 feet. 

She was worried about the elevation and the extreme hike up to the top. We were both having problems hiking at 11,000 feet, how are we going to do 2,000 feet above that. I feel like we will be fine with the trail but the elevation might be a bit of a challenge. My concerns were with my body and the pains I was having. 

I was still having foot pains, pain at the base of my big toe that would come and go as I hiked. It seems to hurt worse at night and I can't bend my big toe. There was also some other pain in an area that I was more conceded about. Around 6 months before we left for our trip I had Inguinal Hernia surgery and I was experiencing pain or feelings in that area. Feelings that reminded me of the feelings I had just before the surgery. 

We have some pretty gnarly hiking coming up with few options to bail out and get into a town if something were to happen. So, we decided that in the morning we would hike back a half mile to the Cottonwood Pass trail and take it to trailhead where we could get a ride into Lone Pine. From Lone Pine we would have to figure out how to get to Bishop, a bigger town, where I was hoping I could see a doctor. 

Now that we had a plan it was time to go to bed and execute said plan tomorrow morning. Easier said than done. I spent the majority of the night thinking about what the doctor would say. I knew for sure that there was something wrong with my hernia and I would have to have surgery again and my trip would be over. This wasn't how or when I wanted the trip to be over. I wasn't ready for it to be over. We had just gotten to the most beautiful part, the part that I had dreamt about for so long before the trip. All these thoughts were swirling around my head making it impossible to fall asleep. It didn't help that the wind had picked up making the tent rattle and shake. 

I eventually did fall asleep, sort of, and morning came as it always does. We got things packed up and headed down the trail. The hike down Cottonwood Pass trail had a somber feel to it. I felt like I was doing the walk of shame or something like that. Like this was the beginning of the end. I tried to make the most of it and absorb as much of the beauty that I could. There were meadows covered in soft green grass, rivers with little fish swimming in them, and bunches of Corn Lilly glowing from the morning sun.

Just before we reached the trailhead we saw a few day hikers coming our way. As they got closer we realized that those day hikers were Rosel, Walter and Home Girl. We havn't seen Home Girl in a while so it was nice to catch up with her. Before saying goodbye I snapped a couple pictures of Rosel and Walter. 

A few minutes after getting to the trailhead a truck rolled up and out jumped Pesky, who we hiked out of Kennedy Meadows with. I went over to him to say hello and to maybe get a ride back down the mountain with his ride. We lucked out and we were able to get a ride down from Dance Party. The ride down the mountain was spectacular and we were amazed at how high up we actually were. 

Dance Party dropped us off at the local outdoor store, called altitude, which was perfect since we needed a few things. After that it was time to get something to eat and then figure out how to gt to Bishop. The buses were not running on the weekend so our only option was to hitch. 

We stood on the curb holding our 'Hiker To Town' sign and our homemade 'Hikers To Bishop' sign for quite a while. Lots of traffic but nobody wanted to stop. A local elderly man walking down the street stopped and started chatting us up. He had lots to say.  I asked him if there was a doctor in town. He said that there was a hospital a couple of blocks away with an on-call doctor. Perfect! We put our signs away and headed towards the hospital with emergency care. 

After a couple of back and forths with the hospital and my insurance I was eventually seen. The prognosis... 

I have tendinitis in my foot, common with people who do a lot of walking. I need to stretch it out a lot, take more breaks while hiking, and take a bunch of Advil to deal with the inflammation. 

My hernia... is still in tact and what I am feeling is probaby the mesh, muscle, internal stitches, and scar tissue stretching. There isn't much I can do about that and the risk of reinjuring it is low but still a possibility. I'll just be careful. 

So, I pretty much have a clean bill of health and can continue hiking! That made both of us very happy. 

All the good news made us hungry. So before going to the motel we stopped for another bite to eat, Subway. We plan on zeroing here tomorrow to rest and get our heads wrapped around the difficult hike we have ahead of us. 

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Pain, pain, go away
I have lots to see and do
Advil helps a lot