We broke up this stretch into 3 days: 17 miles, 20 miles, and 13 miles. Unfortunately, the first day out, I began to notice a twinge in my shin. It started as just a dull ache but by the end of the day, I had to admit it was a full on shin splint with a sharp, shooting pain extending the length of the shin with nearly every step and definite swelling around the ankle area. I popped two Advil that evening in hopes of it going down and, wow, I was frustrated. How could I have gone nearly 700 miles and only NOW be getting a shin splint? Shouldn’t that have shown up at the start? What will it mean for the Sierras? Maybe the uranium water I drank will give me super healing powders?!*
The shin splint definitely impacted the rest of my hike into KM. The trail was actually quite lovely with pleasant scenary and I even felt like I was hiking in Rossland along the 7 Summits trail as the trail construction and red, shaley rocks seemed very familiar! Note: any Rosslander that was outside being active on June 10th, I apologize if you felt sluggish. I felt so connected to you that I tried to “borrow” your energy to get me through! Thank you!
It was a slow, final 13 miles into KM but I made it and that meant I had finished the desert. There was a definite “Woot-woot” let out when I arrived at the trail register. And just a few miles before, I passed the 1/4 completion mark of the PCT. In addition to realizing this accomplishment internally, as you hike into KM, the patio erupts in applause from all the hikers welcoming you and congratulating you on finishing the desert! It was pretty emotional…and then I picked up my resupply box which had a surprise bag of cheezies, Mountain Nugget Chocolates, and a card from Andrew & Lea. Yeah…it was pretty great!
Given my shin, I ended up deciding to take a day off. I figured it was the prudent thing to do given the upcoming mountains and I had heard from both Hufflepuff and Rocky that shin splints ended up costing them multiple days later on as they had both experienced and ignored the pain initially. I figured I had a book to read and it was cool getting the latest trail gossip from everyone. And so I waited one more day before heading out.
*Joshua Tree Spring has noted higher levels of uranium than is recommended for safe consumption. This level is based on life-time consumption and I opted to risk it, as many people did…there were plenty of superpower comments, though!