Oh, I hope I learned something from the pain I experienced today. Like be
more careful on wet rocks . . .
Guess who slipped off a rock and fell into a swampy creek??
My butt landed on soft, mushy black stuff. That didn't hurt anything more
than my pride. What hurt was my right arm, which slammed into a rock.
It's the same arm I usually land on when I take a trail dive. It's a wonder I
haven't broken it yet.
I took a photo of the golf-ball sized knot that immediately arose on the
outside of the arm below my elbow and almost posted it here, but I was afraid
I'd gross out too many journal readers so I haven't included it. The good news
is that most of the swelling is down tonight. My arm hurts (bloody from wrist to
elbow) and will turn lovely shades of blue and purple in a day or two - but it's
So I'll be back out on the Trail tomorrow. I was hoping to finish New York
today, but I'm still about six miles from Connecticut.
"YOU DID WHAT??"
I fell two hours after starting today's run/hike. Another hour after that, I
came up on the Over-Forty Club (Red Wolf, Pokey, and Gumby), three of my
favorite thru-hikers, who were taking a break on a wooden bridge over a creek.
When Red Wolf saw my bloody arm and got the details about how fast it swelled
up, he immediately warned me I should see a doctor ASAP because of infection and
the risk of a blood clot.
He's a nurse. The mere mention of "blood clot" got my attention.
I've had what I thought were hematomas before but never knew they could be so
dangerous, so I called my sister-in-law, an M.D., to ask her opinion. She agreed
that I should get to a doctor today. When I was able to reach Jim, he was in
transit from our last campground in NY to our new one in CT. I told him I'd call
when I got to the Hwy. 22 road crossing, the next place with good access to the
When Jim was setting up the camper he got into a conversation with a woman
across the "road" who lives here long-term. Linda is a nurse and knew of a
walk-in clinic in nearby Torrington, CT. She called them to see how long they
were open and told them I'd be coming in. She even drew us a map. How helpful!
At the clinic I saw an amiable D.O., Tracey Wiles, who cleaned up my arm
properly and bandaged it lightly to keep dirt out of the wounds. Most of the
swelling was down by this time (late afternoon) and she could tell by my arm
movements that nothing was broken. She gave me a prescription for antibiotics in
case one of the wounds gets infected, so I don't have to stop at another clinic
up the road.
Since I couldn't remember when my last tetanus shot was I got one for
safety's sake. That's something obvious that I should have thought about
before the trek, considering how clumsy I am. Lesson learned. The doc gave
me a card with the information on it so I'll know next time.
I also asked her about Lyme disease, since there were numerous signs on the
Trail today about it and some of the hikers have gotten it. Dr. Wiles said her
clinic saw five clear cases of the disease on Monday alone (the classic
bull's-eye rash). I showed her the bump on my neck where I pulled a tick out a
month ago but she said it doesn't look like Lyme disease. She told me what
symptoms to watch for, however, in case I'm one of the quarter of the folks who
have the disease that don't have the usual initial symptoms.
Warning to others in the Northeast where Lyme disease is rampant:
Dr. Wiles said you don't even need to be out in the woods or garden to have a
tick bite you. One woman who hardly ever leaves her house was one of the victims
Monday. So everyone in affected areas should check themselves for ticks
on a regular basis.
INTERESTING FEATURES TODAY
Today's almost 15-mile section was varied and mostly pretty. I can recommend
it for either a hike or run. There were more runnable miles than I've had in
weeks, plus some rock scrambles into and out of ravines. There were only a
couple steep climbs and descents, and they weren't long.
The woods were pretty again, mostly hardwoods with some nice hemlocks near
the end on Corbin Hill. I passed two huge oak trees on the Trail today. The
white oak on County Road 20 (West Dover Rd.) is probably the largest tree on the
entire AT. It is called the Dover Oak and has a girth of twenty feet. Wow.
The Trail is very pretty for about half a mile around Nuclear Lake, a
beautiful lake sorely in need of a nicer name! A nuclear fuel-processing
research facility operated near here until 1972. Then the National Park Service
acquired the land for the Trail corridor. Reportedly the site has been cleaned
up such that it is suitable for unrestricted use.
The Trail wandered into and out of several swampy areas, including the wet
spot where I fell early on. The largest wetland area was near the end of the
section right before Hwy. 22, and is shown in the photo above. The flowers were
very pretty here, but the last part of the "trail" was very overgrown with
plants taller than me and the puncheon were rotted out so badly I got pretty wet
feet going through. That's the single worst-maintained section of Trail I've
seen this whole trek. Fortunately, what needs repairing is only about 200 feet
I was treated to the sight below when I got out of the muck near the highway
- the cute little Appalachian Trail train station. Metro-North Railroad operates
passenger train service on these tracks, but stops at the AT "station" only on
weekends and holidays.
I walked down the road a few hundred yards to a parking area to wait for Jim
to come get me. I found a large shade tree to sit under and watched the traffic
go by. I laughed out loud when I saw a flatbed truck carrying four huge boulders
chained down, bound for some residential or commercial property somewhere. To
think that people pay good money to buy huge rocks, when I've been clamoring
over thousands of them in the last nine states!
While I was waiting I watched the bee-hive of activity across the road in
the other parking area. A vendor with a trailer had set up a hot dog stand and
was doing a brisk lunch-time business with not only hikers but also truckers
and other drivers who stopped. I'm guessing the vendor is there on a regular
basis. Jim decided to get a couple chili dogs when he got there. (I don't
do hot dogs unless I'm starving.)
Red Wolf stopped and got some lunch there and met Jim, but Pokey and Gumby
didn't get there in time. They usually hike behind Red Wolf but they meet for
breaks and stay in the same place at night. Red Wolf (Dwayne) was happy to see
I'd taken his advice to get off the Trail and get medical attention.
The only other thru-hikers I talked with today were "Master Blaster," a SOBO
who started at Katahdin June 5, and "Dandy," a NOBO that I haven't met before.
No "trail magic" again today, but there were lots of red raspberries and
blackberries for the picking . . . that's magic enough for me!
Off to bed,