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We are currently on another long distance hike, and the third leg of our "triple crown", the Continental Divide Trail (the "CDT"). Come along with us if you can - if not in person then by following our grand adventure via our "posts from the trail".  Check out our Flickr Photos, which we'll update periodically, and see it through our eyes!

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"Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Journal Aug 6th – 16,000 Steps of Pain

As we were low on water, we deferred breakfast. Simply got up, patched the heel as best as I possibly could and headed out.

Let’s talk about blisters. The blistered area on the heel hurts. Basically it’s an open wound, raw skin, and no matter the bandaging or padding, any pressure against it is painful. You can limit the rubbing some, but every time your the foot hits the ground there is impact of some kind on the heel, and it hurts. This happened about 16,200 times today.

It sounds like a lot, because it is. But it’s no exaggeration. My hiking stride is a little under 3 feet. So I take about 1,800 steps a mile, about 900 with each leg. We hiked about 18 miles today. 18 x 900 = 16,200. Of course, it felt more like 16,300 or 16,400 steps of pain. But at least we did a “short” day of 18 miles, and at least it was only one heel, othwerise the “fun” could more than double.

The hardest part is to walk “normally”. The heel wants you avoid touching the ground and tries to force you onto your toes. But this is a fool’s temptation. It would result is calf tightness, knee pains, back pains and other problems. So it’s important to force the heel to suffer some now, for the overall good of everthing else. Easier said than done. Fortunately after a mile or so the body starts masking the pain; either dopamine or just plain stupidity but the brain makes it possible to forget what’s going on. Until you stop for a break and start the cycle all over.

Otherwise, it was a nice walk, mostly “trail”, which was more often than not an old jeep road, closed to traffic and shaded by lots of forest canopy. In some place there is “new trail” – mostly just blazes on trees without any trail tread. There were some views with occasional glimpses of the Pintler mountain, looking very imposing. They will be our route after Anaconda. Surprisingly there was more water today too, enough water. We kept a decent pace despite the heel blister and made it to state highway 569, a lonely country road by about 7:30pm.

We could see the road for the last 20 minutes and not a car had gone by in that time. We needed to get a ride into Anaconda to resupply and one of the challenges is that it involves taking highway 569 to state highway 1 and changing directions to a small town 17 miles away. The other challenge is very little traffic. Not wanting to get stuck at a lonely highway junction at night, we figured we’d give it the long shot and try for a half hour to get the right ride, then probably resort to camping by the road and resuming our efforts in the morning.

Well, just a couple minutes later, before we even had the packs off, a small car screetches to a halt in front of us and offers a ride all the way into Anaconda, dropping us off in front of the motel of our choice. By 9pm we were checked in, showered up and feeding on beers and burgers, a whole lot more delighful than the “emergency” Mac-N-Cheese we had been resigned to.

Miles 18, or 32,400 steps, 16,200 pounding down on the left heel….

3 Responses to “Journal Aug 6th – 16,000 Steps of Pain”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    Greetings, my friends! What wonderous photos, and thought provoking trail adventures. Here’s to healing blisters, a bottle (or two) of beer, and a juicy steak in your near future =) Hugs and health to you both – Cynthia

  2. Carol Jenkins Says:

    August 11,
    Hi guys! I just got caught up on your postings, so ready to see you in person tomorrow and hear the latest adventures. Can’t wait. Have a birthday cherry pie (picked this week) for Deb and beer, of course, for Phil. Bringing hugs from Sandpoint,
    Carol

  3. paul leech Says:

    Hey mis amigos. It is nice to kind of live your hike thru the postings. The other night here we had a real wild rain storm and I felt a bit smug in my nice dry bed inside the house and thought about you being out on the trail knowing full well of the upside and downside of ldh. with you in spirit, tw

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