Saturday, August 17, 2019; Day 28
I rose early and made coffee using the coffee maker in the guest lounge of the Washington Hotel. I made it especially strong.
I chatted with a lovely southern couple and two hikers that were enjoying the PNT in sections. There was certainly no shortage of good conversation.
Tiffany, the hotel manager, was full of vibrant energy. She assisted me with a load of laundry and allowed me to hang around the hotel and raid the hiker-box long after check-out.
I sorted and packed my resupply in the hiker lounge. I had found it difficult to find enough vegan protein at the town grocery store. It was going to be oatmeal, peanut-butter, instant rice, nuts, figs. For protein, cooked beans. This is far heavier than was ideal, but the packaging was cardboard, and it contained 30 grams of protein.
My knee was still bothering me quite a bit. It had caused me to toss in the night. My solution: ice. I had two ice-packs that I switched throughout the day, leaving one to freeze while the other gripped the back of my bare knee, secured by a strip of Ace Bandage wrap.
I moved about the little town. I made repeat visits to the grocery store for carrots and fruit, then again for chips and hummus, sometimes just to browse.
I positioned myself within a small seating area to the side of the art gallery that was attached to the hotel. I sat at the table against the building wall, where I felt I would be the least obtrusive. I ate. I ordered my next re-supply, securing future protein intake. Then, upon the sun’s suggestion, I moved to the Visitor Center to meet shade.
The little center was a park with restrooms, picnic benches, and well-tended flowers, electrical outlets, and an old-train car converted in to a space to be filled with books. Railroad tracks ran behind it. It was lovely.
Hobbling about town, I began to wonder if my knee was ready to handle a heavy pack and road-walk. The deep desire to continue pushing was mitigated by the fear of causing more lasting or debilitating damage. I considered staying another night. The Washington Hotel was lovely, but budgeting is high priority. I thoroughly enjoyed the luxuries of a bed and a hot-shower after the demands of Idaho. Moving forward, however, I would much rather forego paying for a bed/electricity/privacy, than buy less nutritious fuel. There was a trail-angel in town –Mary.
It was listed in the guide-book that Mary opened her backyard for use by hikers who wished to stay in town. A local pointed her home and her van out to me, and told me that she ran the theater. I watched as the van moved from her home to the theater, and back again. Finally I managed to introduce myself.
She showed me her back yard and where I could get water and electricity, there was even a portable toilet for use. She welcomed me to come and go as I please. She told me that I had the right to ask anyone to leave the yard…unless it was another hiker, in which case we would have to settle that among ourselves. I thanked her, and returned to the visitor center until near night-fall.
Back in Mary’s yard, I laid out my ground-tarp and mat in a flat space of grass in the corner.
I looked at my knee. Red marks were forming. I felt strange sensations and vibrations and pain. For the first time in long-distance hiking I was experiencing an inhibition of bodily function that could prevent me from reaching my goal. I scoured the internet via Google. Was it bursitis, a bakers cyst, just soreness from the weight and high impact of the road…what were these markings and sensations?
Oh please. Please let my body heal. Let me continue hiking. I have learned that there are no shortcuts. Please dear body, please heal.
I did what I could to prop my knee up above my heart. It was a difficult position to sustain.
I fell asleep with hopes that I would return to consciousness in a body in better health than I had left it.