I have today off from work and had big plans. I should be on the road right now, heading for Shenandoah National Park for two days of backpacking. This is my makeup trip from the longer trip I had to cancel last month because of work. It would have been a bit chilly up in the mountains - highs of about 47 and lows in the mid to upper 20's as of now - but I was prepared for it. I learned my lesson at Mount Rogers last year and was taking my bulkier and heavier, but much warmer, sleeping bag. It takes up almost half the space in my pack!
On Wednesday, I did a presentation for work at a conference near here. I was leaving the building and carrying a large and awkward flip chart stand that totally blocked my vision. I had forgotten that as you leave the conference building, there was a single step to step down to the portico before getting on the short flight of stairs leading to the ground. So I stepped off, not expecting a drop of six inches. Strong legs and good balance kept me from falling. Luck prevented a sprained or broken left ankle. And I thought all was well.
Then yesterday, the left side of my back started hurting. I obviously wrenched it during the unexpected step down. It wasn't too bad, but kept getting a little worse. I got my gear organized and was all packed up by 10PM, ready to head out this morning. I figured I could deal with a sore back. But this morning, it is even more sore and clearly needs to be adjusted. So I stopped thinking with my male brain and - after carrying my pack downstairs and making final preparations to go - I used my more rational brain and decided that this is nuts! To head out alone for two days carrying a 35 pound pack over very rugged and remote terrain does not concern me. But doing all that with a sore back is just crazy. So around 6:45, I made the decision to cancel the trip and call a chiropractor as soon as they open at 8:30. If an adjustment works, I will try a short hike later today and if it still feels good in the morning, then I can at least go for a nice day hike in the mountains. But for the second (and likely last) time this fall, I am cancelling a backpacking trip. It is very frustrating, but compared to a broken leg or a bad fall from the misstep, not really that bad.
I am showing my roughly 17 mile route - where I planned on going - below: starting and ending at the orange arrow top left, camping at the orange triangle bottom right, and moving clockwise. This area is in the northern section of Shenandoah NP, and other than a hike a few years ago up Little Devil Stairs, would all have been new territory for me. I'll plan on doing this trip next fall. As for today, I will find something to turn lemons into lemonade.