Urgent Care

I arrived home today and went directly to urgent care. I have been having some very weird and uncomfortable symptoms the most concerning of which was the inability to breathe well. I went through a lot of testing including chest X-Ray, UA, blood work, and a flu test. After a relatively short wait I found out I have a high white blood count and that I am sick. Not really a shock and also not helpful, they said its viral based on the count and that I should feel better in a week or less. They prescribed an inhaler that has already helped with the breathing A LOT! Once I’m breathing again without the inhaler I will be headed back to the AT to hike on using my car for assistance and to allow me the freedom to see sites that are beyond the AT! I want to thru hike still but I want the freedom of being able to leave the trail as I want to go see interesting things.  I don’t know what that will look like but I’ll figure it out when I get back. A huge shoutout goes to Trevor for picking me up from the bus and taking me to urgent care and then home to my wife! I don’t know what I would do without all of the support I have had! It feels good to be home but I also can’t wait to get back to hiking. Tomorrow I’m going to try to get a walk in and see how it goes. Now that I have the inhaler I’m not as scared to walk around!  I wish things had gone differently but everything happens for a reason. Maybe I avoided a bear? Also I found out that a fellow blogger that has been following me since the beginning let me know that he is planning on doing a stretch of the AT and I’m really looking forward to hiking with him. I’m sorry for causing anyone worry I tried very hard to down play things but once I was on my way home I allowed myself to become concerned. With my break I’m also hoping to get a new pair of shoes my REI dividend came in the mail so I have a gift card to use to get a new pair. My toes were manageable with blisters until I cut my toe nails and that revealed that most of my toes have blisters under the toenail, one of which is infected. I also developed some blisters on the bottom of my left foot on my last day out so I’ll be looking for some new shoes, I know blisters are part of hiking but I feel like a better show might allow for less blisters. Sorry for the long ramble!  I’ll update again when I have a plan to go back to the trail! 
Gutz 

Change of plans

Change of plans

I’m sitting in a hotel in Hiawasee GA right now, I have decided it’s time to go home for a bit. I could tell you it’s because I fell and hurt my left side, I could tell you it’s because I have a minor infection, I could tell you it’s because I’ve been sick everyday since I got here but all of those things are only minor factors in my decision to go home. At the end of the day I’m going home because this isn’t what I expected. Right before I left my mom said that I should have fun, ever since I hiked in Spain that has been my mom’s advice! Frankly hiking the AT has been the farthest things from fun! My plan is to go home, stay for a few days, see a doctor about the not being able to breathe thing, then get my car and head back down here. I plan on putting together a series of day hikes through the highlights of the AT. Go see my sister and explore the east coast while providing a little trail magic to other hikers. I have been here for just over a week and I have found out that I thrive on structure and control and the AT has zero structure!! I haven’t felt this out of control since I was in college and that is a very scary place to be for me. Some people find freedom in hiking I found an endless pit of scary places. I truly enjoyed my training to get to this point and I want to have fun like that again, and I think the solution is to give up the idea that I need to hike the AT like everyone else or every inch of it. I’m looking forward to many things and I know people will say it’s better if you hiked to it but I don’t think that with how clouded my head was anything could be pretty if I hiked the whole way there. I am finally at peace with my decision and hopefully will book my bus home tomorrow. 

Slack Pack

Slack Pack

This morning I got up with the intentions of taking a zero but the woman who helped with my shake down yesterday suggested that I slack pack she said she believed in me so off I went to slack pack Jarrard Gap to Woody Gap. I made it about 2 miles before I decided to turn around and hike back to Jarrard and wait for the shuttle. I spent a lot of time laying around in the leave in the gap (valley) in the sun listening to the Owls and sitting by a creek. Over all I enjoyed my time in the gap waiting and sleeping in the sun. After getting picked up I got a couple of texts from my mom she wanted me to know she was thinking of me and that I must be under a lot of pressure. I have so many people rooting for me to succeed and that makes it so much more difficult. I need to stop focusing on the folks out there who are supporting me and start focusing on what I need to do to enjoy my time on the AT. Tomorrow I plan to take a zero no matter what and just relax a little, figure out what this hike means for me and what it is going to look like going forward. I’ve trouble shooter some of my problems with my sister and my wife and I think we have a good game plan (personal stuff). I’ve booked my bed (or in this case a futon in the living room)  at the hiker hostel until Friday. I will take the next few days to assess my situation and go from there, if that means hiking on great if that means finding a new adventure in ok with that too. Right now I’m going to pour over the guide book and make a plan for a very short 5 miles on Friday and see what happens. My new goal is to hike the state of Georgia per a suggestion from my brilliant support system and the owner of this hostel. If I make it through Georgia I will reassess and see where I want to go next. I’m sorry my blogs have been so depressing lately but I feel how I feel and I don’t think anyone really tells you just how hard it is!

Shake down

Shake down

Tonight at the Hiker Hostel some really nice folks who have thru hiked before did a shake down if my back. This means we went through each item and I had to explain why I had it. It went pretty well I think, ok I know it did. My pack is now 10 pounds lighter!!! Yep 10 pounds of useless shit in it I guess mostly in food, not eating has left me carrying a lot of extra weight in useless food and turns out 4,000 calories in the beginning is impossible to consume! I’m pleased with my new pack weight and I’m looking forward to my day off tomorrow I’m going to see if I can ride along on the shuttles to different places and just rest my feet I may even take a bath! I’m still finding random leaves after a half hour shower today. I spent most of my day crying and sleeping so tomorrow I’m hoping to be more awake to do things then I think I will be comfortable hiking out. I know I need to trust my body and listen to it except when it comes to eating so that’s what I’ve done today and my feet say one more day please and since they were so polite I’ll give them just one more day :) 

Days 1 through 3 (total miles hiked=17.4) 

Day 1 approach trail

I started out today with the intentions to drive up to springer with Heidi that simply didn’t work out! I’m currently at black gap shelter and haven’t hiked on the AT as of yet tomorrow morning I will summit springer mountian and start the actuall AT! I just came back from water where I fell twice going down the hill. I’m fighting depression and trying to make sure that it doesn’t win. It’s probably going to be a cold night but I’m ready for it I hope! I can’t wait to get to springer tomorrow my site are set on neels gap if it doesn’t get fun by then I guess I’ll probably go home with my tail between my legs and full of shame!
Day 2
It took me a few hours but I summited springer this morning. I don’t intend on going home I think it was first day gitters. I hike with two lovely ladies named Kelley and Michelle they were a huge help to get me to Hawk Mountain. I did 10.3 miles today which is way more than I wanted to. Tomorrow I plan to take it real easy and stop at the first site with water I find which should be about 5 miles up trail. I have a few blisters on my toes and will likely be loosing my left second toe toe nail much like I did in Spain. I’m trying to keep myself going and when I get to camp at night I feel so good and waking up in the morning I don’t feel nearly as sore as I thought I would. I’m not sleeping well, having to get up every 30 to 60 minutes to pee (I’m well hydrated) but I can’t seem to stomach anything I have had 2 protein bars since starting the approach trail. I feel awful but I know after tonight I have a 2 mile rolling up and down and then two big climbs before my day is finished. 
Day 3
I hiked into a gap today just in time to see the hiker hostel shuttle coming by to take people to Springer. They stopped and asked if I was ok I said I was but hadn’t eaten in days they said they would be back through in 20 minutes if I wanted a ride. I jumped at the opportunity to shower and sleep in a bed. I have showered and inventoried my body and I’m in pretty rough shape I have several bruises that go along with my blisters and several scrapes I wasn’t aware of I also have a lot of chaffing I wasn’t aware of. I’m hoping to eat something today if not I’ll stay the night again until I can eat. I’m going to do laundry as soon as a machine opens up then charge my stuff up, hopefully eat then sleep and hike out tomorrow! 
Wish me luck, 
Gutz

St. Paul to Chicago

Last night I was worried about the bus to the point of tears but thanks to the support of Allie, Trevor, Holly and Shiyanke who Holly was brilliant to think to ask, this update is coming to you from a bus somewhere in Wisconsin! Saying goodbye was hard, I’m going to miss so many people so much, I left my heart in St. Paul with Holly and Trevor so they can take care of it until I’ve hiked for a bit and can handle it again.  I’m 5 hours into the trip and will arrive in Atlanta in about 25 hours. I’m nervous for my layover in Chicago but clear headed Kayla (currently writing) knows that if I can survive in Spain, not knowing Spanish, for 4 days by myself I can handle Chicago for a few hours! We’ll see who wins the battle clear headed confident Kayla or scared small town crying Kayla! I think ultimately that’s what this hike will probably accomplish, confident Kayla will have a little room to grow! I don’t know how often I will get blog while out on the trail but I hope to do so often, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my experience. 

15 days until I leave

A lot have been happening lately including 13+ hour work days so I haven’t blogged in a while.  I had my AT coaching session with the Zach Davis, it was great I felt awkward and unprepared for the conversation but when I hung up the phone I felt completely prepared for the trail.  I’m a little nervous about the weather on the trail in the beginning but I will play it by ear once I’m in Georgia.  I ordered my last bit of gear yesterday and tonight.  I got fleece leggings for camp, glide to prevent chafing, a buff, a thing to cover my nose and mouth, and sunglasses.  I was home over the weekend and man do I feel the love, leaving is going to be hard all around.  Knowing I have the support of my family is amazing and it will go along way to getting me to the end.  Hopefully by the end of this week, if work settles down I will get my mail drops addressed to be shipped. I’m so excited to leave 15 days seems like forever and way to soon at the same time.