Update from Popeye: A Tough Decision

The decision to end my hike for now was not one that I came to lightly. After taking 9 days off, where all I did was rest, elevate, and ice, and 3 doctor appointments later- my ankle is not even near where it needs to be to hike again right now. I still have about 1900 miles left of this trail and it’s something that would be difficult to complete even with a body that was at or close to 100%. But an ankle is a pretty important thing when you are walking all day, everyday and the fact is that a torn ligament can’t completely heal this quickly and I don’t have the time or money to give it the rest it needs and still complete this trail this year.
It’s a heart breaking decision, especially having just completed a thru hike less than a year ago. I know my body is capable but it’s letting me down right now. And the only thing I can do is listen to the fact that it’s telling me to stop walking for now. I have hope that I will be able to heal and save up more money to give it another shot in a year. I haven’t decided if I’ll start from Campo again, or if I’ll jump on the trail from Kennedy Meadows and hike north from there, to see the part of the trail I haven’t seen yet. There is time to figure it out and make plans. Going home isn’t all bad- I’m excited to see my parents, grand parents, dogs, and the most excited to see my brother and his family who recently moved back to Michigan from Texas. I can hopefully get some riding in as that is definitely something that’s been missing from my life lately. But even with all these positives, I desperately don’t want to be going home. It doesn’t feel right to be leaving this trail unfinished but I don’t see another option for the moment. I have gone back and forth so many times but it always comes back to the fact that I have now been walking in pain for about 400 miles and it’s not fun to hike like that. Every step all I can think about is the pain in my ankle and all I want to do is get to the end of the day when I can finally lay down in my tent and not be in pain anymore. It hasn’t been enjoyable for a while, even in the desert, and the trail through the Sierra is so much more challenging than anything we’ve seen so far.

It’s going to take me a little while to come to terms with the end of my hike but I know this is not the end of hiking for me. It’s just a temporary departure while I heal myself and work to get back out here. I have been lucky to do one thru hike already and the 700 miles of this trail that I got to see were so incredible. I have to remind myself that if you give it your best shot it’s not a failure. Next time I step foot on this trail I will be more knowledgeable and well prepared- and I will be counting down the days until that moment!

I have received so much kindness while on this trail- staying with trail angels, rides to and from towns, candy bars from day hikers, hot dogs in the middle of the Mojave- and so much kindness from everyone at home. I couldn’t have gotten this far without all that help and support and I appreciate it more than I can say. I hope that next year will bring a complete thru hike of the PCT but I am ready for whatever adventure might be next. Thank you to everyone who has followed along on my journey and thank you to everyone who has been so generous as to make a donation to my fundraiser. I will continue to raise money until I have completed the PCT and I look forward to making my donation to the Red Cross after the hike is done.

7 thoughts on “Update from Popeye: A Tough Decision

  1. I’m sorry it has ended this way for you but your experience so far is something that is only a dream to others, like me. Congratulations on what you have accomplished. You’ll be back again but the most important part is to get better now and get ready for the next wonderful adventure.

    1. Thank you Sarah! I definitely agree- I have been incredibly lucky to do as much hiking as I have. I hope I am lucky enough to do more next year! Thanks for following on my journey this year and hopefully I will have more to share next year!

  2. This must be very hard for you!😒 I’m so sorry, but…You have stayed so positive thru this experience, I know that bc, I picked a hiker to follow, virtually, and I’ve enjoyed EVERY word you’ve written. You have seen the good in everything. It’s that attitude that will get you thru the hike, but a healthy body is essential, obviously, in hiking the hike! Get Well, enjoy what comes next, and I look forward to your next attempt!!! I feel like I know you, your words are so authentic, so I’m going to miss you. If I were your mother, I’d be very happy you made this decision, your health comes first!!! Also, I hope you find another ‘hiking buddy’, and I hope you realize, you should not do this alone. Maybe you friend Sass(?) will want to go again?!πŸ˜³πŸ˜‰
    Take care of yourself,

    1. Rhonda, thank you so much for writing! I am so glad you’ve enjoyed following along on my hike. The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster but it’s comments like yours that are helping me come to terms with the end of this hike. It’s not easy to be headed home when all the amazing friends I’ve made are still headed to Canada but health definitely has to come first and I know I will meet so many more amazing people next year! Feel free to add me on Facebook if you are on there and would like to stay in touch- my full name is Kayla McCarthy! Thanks again, your comment really has brightened a difficult day!

  3. Hi Kayla, I’ve been following your journal, along with others’ on trail journals. Your authenticity and detailed description were fun to read. I normally don’t comment but I just want to encourage you. It is so frustrating when an injury keeps us from participating in what we love to do but, I think you made the right choice to allow your body to heal. I dealt with elbow tendonitis for about a year and it was frustrating… but, I have learned so much about how to rehab and take care of my body in order to stay active and injury free. These trials really do teach us a lot! Also wanted to let you know about a treatment that really seemed to help my elbow tendonitis and it’s often used for tendon – type injuries. It’s called a Platelet Rich Plasma injection (PRP). Unlike, cortisone, which only masks the pain, the doc. uses your own Platelet – rich blood to inject it into the injured area and promote natural healing. That along with doing Myofascial Release on the muscles around the tendon, seemed to help my tendonitis. Kayla, it’s clear you have a wonderful spirit and a positive attitude. I’m sure you’ll be out there again before you know it, healthy and ready to go πŸ™‚ Take care and God bless!

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