On March 15, a group of us headed out to Catoctin to hike one of their 5 mile trail loops. This hike was going to feature terrain more like what we would see on our back packing trip in October. It was also the first time I planned on taking along my new pack. So I threw a few bottles of water and a first aid kit in the pack, laced up my boots, grabbed my hiking poles and hit the trail.
Things were good when we started out. I had under 10 pounds of weight in the pack, and the pack was pretty comfortable (I have the new anti-gravity Osprey Aura 65L- love it!). But once we started the incline, things started going downhill pretty fast. While my knees ached and popped and creaked, it was my left hip that had me limping 5 minutes into the hike. It began as an ache and increased pain levels as we went further. Starting at my hip, the pain radiated down my entire left leg. It had me popping ibuprofen and begging for breaks. At one point, if I had been with just my mom and my husband, I probably would have broken down and cried. But with my cousin there, I pushed through. She and I have slept in a haunted prison, camped at a UFO Ranch and been shot at while investigating a haunted asylum- we're tough. Just like there's no crying in baseball, there's no crying in hiking (or so I told myself in my head). It wasn't so much the pain that had me emotional, it was the sudden fear at the realization that it was possible I might not be able to physically handle back packing. It was March 15th, the Ides of March- the day Julius Caesar was warned about. The day Caesar's own best friend Brutus betrayed him and helped murder him. And here my own body was betraying me.
Finally, nearing the end of the trail, I let my cousin take the pack and I had immediate relief. Not all the pain was gone, but it was manageable. And that really worried me. The pack and its contents barely approached 10 pounds, how in the world was I going to hike 10 miles a day, for 4 days with 20-30 pounds?
How in the world was I going to manage this trip?