Miles: 4 Zero days and a 20

Camp: My CDT mile 2273

I parted ways with the guys in Anaconda, as they headed to Helena by foot and I by thumb. I got a ride with some mail carriers, a veterinarian and a veteran. I had some great conversations and the 3 rides got me safely to my destination. I holed up in the hotel with an Epsom salt bath, a bottle of wine, a burrito and the football game. My knee felt much better by nightfall, but I still planned to get it checked out. I don’t want to risk permanent damage by pushing on…but oh how dreadful if I have to stop hiking. I don’t even know what to do with that level of heartbreak and disappointment. Trying to stay optimistic!

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In the morning I had to go two miles to get to the urgent care in Helena. I had asked about bus service at the front desk and the lovely owner of the lovely Budget Inn offered me a ride! Jenny brought me to the front door on her way to a meeting, a very kind gesture on her part! Unfortunately though, the clinic couldn’t see me today! The receptionist explained that they had, ‘lost’ a provider and the others were in surgery (?!). I think she sensed my helplessness as she recommended a nearby clinic. I explained how I was on foot and nursing my knee…and without hesitation she said, “I’ll just clock out and bring you over.”

I’ve had some very kind strangers go out of their way for me recently and I’m overwhelmed with the kindness!

When I was finally seen by an RN, we discussed my knee. She poked, pushed, pulled and prodded me. Nothing caused discomfort or pain so she confidently told me an xray wouldn’t even be necessary  (my wallet said, “Yay!”). She said it was likely that I had bruised the cartilage behind the patella which is probably the least possible knee injury (phew!). It will be pretty sore, but if I can ice it every day (Yay for snow!?) and if it doesn’t swell up, then it should be okay. The days of rest I had already prescribed myself were about all she had for me, an expensive vote of confidence, but a vote of confidence nonetheless. In the meantime I have another couple of days to give my knee some rest before finishing the trail! I have a bit over 300 miles to Canada, then back here to make up the 80 miles I skipped from Anaconda to Helena. 

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The next couple of days were spent resting and exploring the parts of Helena within a reasonable distance. It is a great little town, full of nice people and cute businesses. The guys arrived on Saturday afternoon and decided that they wanted to take a zero on Sunday. I was happy that I would get one more day of rest and extra happy to have the company of my friends again. They sure keep me laughing and it feels good to be part of a good team. I remember the days of wanting to be alone so badly that I left people behind…and now I couldn’t imagine doing this without them. I am thankful to have seen both sides of the coin enough to know that it is just better together than alone…as much as being alone is it’s own kind of special experience. I get a pretty good balance of that with the guys.

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On Monday, all geared up for whatever flavor of winter Montana has for us, we left Helena. Uber and Limey paid for a cab to the pass, Judd and I teamed up to hitchhike while Titan and Righton stopped by the comic book store. Those guys and their magic cards…the most athletic nerds you will ever meet. Judd and I danced and smiled on the side of the road for about 30 minutes before a van pulled over. It was driven by a man named Rudolph who wore a top hat and was a chimney sweep by trade. He chain smoked cigarettes and played music far too loudly on his poor sound system…but the music was pretty good and Rudolph was pretty cool. We had to run a couple of errands with him, but eventually made it up to the pass.

It felt strange to hike from a place I didn’t walk to, but I don’t regret the decision to get a green light on my knee before hiking on. The sky was both light and dark, the air bitterly cold, snow clinging to trees and grass as we climbed our first pass.

We eventually caught up with Uber and Limey just after dark. It was very cold and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the $60 I spent on a sleeping bag liner…instant warmth! My dinner cooked slowly in the below freezing evening and I curled up immediately after, ready for sleep. It was too cold to blog last night, but it is early morning and I have the time right now.

My knee is very sore, but not swollen. I’m slightly worried. I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse and that not getting an xray when I had the chance was the right choice. If I have to stop hiking I will, reluctantly…but high hopes that I make it to Lincoln without needing to make that choice. I’ve come too far to stop now. Fingers crossed. 

Uberdude bought a mumu!
The Anaconda smokestack…apparently the tallest in the world (?)
The doctors office put a barcode on me. 
Not just shoes…Waterproof shoes!

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