I returned from the trail in September, having just tagged the Canadian border. It was the highlight of my hiking life, so far. Never mind the shin splints. Those went away within a few weeks.
What hit me upside the head was rapidly increasing cardiopulmonary symptoms, and stunning levels of fatigue. We spent eight months trying to figure this out. Steve was a champ, going to every appointment, and keeping track of every detail. And during all of this, the fear of not hiking again played incessantly in the back of my mind.
One hospital stay, and a couple of dozen doctor visits later, I had a diagnosis; a messed up autonomic nervous system, primarily manifestating as chronic fatigue syndrome, plus a handful of other issues.
With a diagnosis, we could start treating symptoms. I have to have tons of fluid and salt, wear compression tights, get lots of sleep, and not push myself.
With all that in mind, I started training again. My first walk, in late April, was under a mile. But I was thrilled. I gradually increased distance, and slowly added weight. By mid June, I could start thinking about hiking again. It wouldn’t look like last year; I’d be going low and slow. But at least I’d be on the trail.
Fast forward to today. I’m on a train in Seattle, getting ready to head south to Eugene. Just like last year, my wonderful friends are taking me up to Willamette Pass…and this year I’ll be heading south.