Jolly off the Appalachian Trail

I’ve been dealing with the extensor injury for a week now — the dreaded downhill from Crosby Knob Shelter to Davenport Gap — and the pain is just too much. Add to that the constantly swollen left ankle and shooting pains up the inside, it’s time to call it quits. If I have to pop a dozen ibuprofen daily just to walk — even after zero days — then I need to stop hiking. I’m also waking in the night to throbbing pain so I’m dropping pain killers to help me get back to sleep. This needs to stop.

I’m calling it a day.

Lola (Cap Dan’s girlfriend) is driving back to NY today, so to kill two birds with one stone, I’m hitching a lift. I can help with the long drive north and gas money. I’ll be back home tonight, and I’m glad.

If you asked me what I’m looking forward to the most, it would be for the pain to stop. It’s been severe and prolonged and even with time off the trail, neither injury is improving; they’re actually worsening. I need to be smart now, not proud.

I’ve had many other thru’ers suggest I take more zeros and ice and elevate, but I’m confident that even if I reduced the swelling to a normal state over time, it would return within a week – and I would be back here again with the ultimate quandary: do I push and risk further (read: permanent) injury, or do I make the smart decision and be proud of the 290.2 miles I’ve tackled and call it a day?

I’ve run through all available scenarios and I’m comfortable with the latter choice every time.

This isn’t an easy decision; I’ve been thinking about leaving ever since injuring my right tendon last week in the Smokies. I’m going to miss my very good friends that I’ve gotten quite close to over the last four weeks, but they’ll be friends for life. I’m going to miss the trail very much, too. It’s become a way of life, an organic connection to something great. I know I’m going to want to return, but not now.

I’ve had an incredible time and have spent many, many days in my own head thinking about my life, what brought me here, and what the future holds. I’m a stronger man for doing this, and for one month I took on one of the toughest trails in the world; and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

A little over a month ago I was standing on top of Springer Mountain with a truck full of balls and absolutely no clue how tough this was going to be. I certainly didn’t think I was going to be calling it quits due to injury. I’m humbled to the core, and have grown to have the utmost respect for the AT and everyone that steps foot on it.

I wish everyone else the best, and a safe and successful thru hike.

6 thoughts on “Jolly off the Appalachian Trail

  1. I am sorry that you are going home this way. I hope your injuries will heal completely…. . . . . sometimes some things are just not meant to be.

    Que Sera my son – Que Sera.
    Love and hugs , always. xx

  2. Oh Jolly, So sorry to hear that, but it sounds like you’ve made the right decision. Your injury may need lots of rest or maybe even surgery. I’m going to miss your journal entries. I know you’ll be happy to see your wife and be safe at home. Good Luck.

  3. Well done on what you have achieved but remember you weren’t beaten by the trail, our bodies are frail compared to Mother Nature. Be proud of what you have done. Xx

  4. Bummer dude. Sounds like you’re making the right decision though. Not worth risking permanent damage. The AT has been there for 80 years, and it’s not going anywhere. You’ll get back out there.

    I’m going to try to coordinate one or two weekend hikes and/or trail magic when everyone we were hiking with is coming through the NY-CT-MA area (should be around July) so I can say what’s up. Lemme know if you’d be interested. Hopefully your ankles heal swiftly.

    -Goober

  5. Jolly, you know how much I have loved hiking every step of this crazy trail with you. You are the best of the best. I wish you a sure and speedy recovery and especially swift relief from the pain you’ve been dealing with for too long. I hope very soon that the only pain left is the one in my heart, from missing you. Bon soir, mon ami.
    Tie Dye

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