Halfway to Grants

I guess I should have known better than to expect sympathy for a poorly toe from someone who makes social calls with a large gun at his hip and only four toes on one foot. Tony the trail angel from Pie Town offered to take my toe off for me if it was a problem; with the nearest medical services many many miles away, I guess most Pie Town folks are used to a bit of DIY on the medical front! But he and his wife Joan did bring some Epsom salts, which I’m sure helped.

Anyway, we had a great time hanging out at the Toaster House in Pie Town, an open house for hikers and bikers. During the three days we were there, we spent hours and hours sitting out on the porch, chatting to other hikers, listening to music and drinking beer while hiding from the fierce sun. People came and went, blisters were seen to, feet got soaked; sadness at being left behind while people hiked on was balanced by gladness at having got the chance to know them better, and the hope of seeing them again further on down the road.

On our last evening there, some hikers cadged a lift in with Mouse, a native American guy who lives nearby. When he asked if he could come back later with his drum and do some songs, the answer was a unanimous “yes”. It was a really memorable evening, as we sat around in the darkness, looking at the stars, drinking beer and listening to Mouse singing Apache songs (and songs from many other tribes too), accompanied only by his drum or rattle. He explained what each song was about, and its significance in his life. And finally he sang his song of parting, as he picked up his instruments, walked over to his truck and drove away. We were all left feeling very overwhelmed, and grateful.

So on Tuesday morning, with my toe looking a much healthier colour (and me feeling like a bit of a wimp for making a fuss over it), we set off on the next leg of our hike, towards Grants. The first day was a literally straight 24 miles on dirt and gravel roads, past many ranches and out onto a bleak plain, where we collected water at a cow trough, filtered out the floating cow poo, and camped for the night.

The next day’s hiking was somewhat better as we entered the Cebolla Wilderness. Sandy paths and dirt roads led us through pine woods and dry meadows, past ruined log cabins and sandstone crags. My blisters from the previous day’s roadwalking were killing me, so when we stopped I got a needle and scissors and made a big hole in the worst one on the pad of my foot. Neil doused it with iodine (ooyah ooyah) and put a dressing on it, and after swapping out my insoles to change the pressure points on my feet, we hiked on.

But after a couple of relatively pain free miles, I started to feel a growing soreness around my big toe joint. This became a persistent ache, and by the time we’d done 22 miles (the last 5 on tarmac) my foot was red and swollen and I could barely hobble. As we gloomily cooked our dinner in a small picnic area, we faced up to the fact that I couldn’t walk any further in my current state.

So the next morning we hitched a ride into Grants, and holed up in a motel where I spent the day with my foot up, doing hot / cold treatments and soaking my foot in Epsom salts, watching way too much TV while Neil ran errands. All to no avail; this morning my foot was redder and more swollen than before. But luckily for me, there are some lovely kind trail angels here in Grants, Hugo and Carole Mumm, and they took us to the medical centre where I was told it was probably gout. Rubbish timing, never had an attack before, but at least it should respond quickly to drugs. And it’s better than bunion surgery, which was the initial suggestion! So I’ve started on the pills, and will see how things are progressing by Monday.

In the meantime I’ll mostly be watching telly. But there is some evidence that dairy products are good for gout – a good reason to try out some new flavours of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, I reckon!

Neil and Carpenter and the wall of shoes at the Toaster House
Creeper, Carpenter, Neil and some trail magic – well chilled cola in a cool box outside Pie Town
York Ranch Road
Cebolla Wilderness
Neil getting water, under the watchful gaze of two bulls
Bad foot!

12 Responses

  1. Becka
    | Reply

    I’m crossing fingers for you, Tanya, it must be so stressful waiting around and not knowing really what the problem is. I hope you’re managing to channel your inner Zen and not letting the heat get to you! Becka

  2. Roz Savage
    | Reply

    Relieved to hear you’re still the proud possessor of ten toes, even if some of them are painful! Sending lots of love, and hoping you’re back on the trail soon. xxx

  3. Tanya Savage
    | Reply

    Hi Shelly
    Just ordered some larger size trail shoes from REI – Salomon XA Pro 3D non Goretex. Neil loves his, so hope they’ll suit me too. Bit of a gamble, but getting a Greyhound to the REI in Albuquerque to try shoes on sounded like an even bigger gamble! Fingers crossed!

  4. Robert R Henry
    | Reply

    My dad would never walk on the roads in the American west, but always 10 to 15 meters off the road, just the distance a thrown bottle might land, hoping to find another purple bottle (pre 1910 high manganese content glass, turned purple with long exposure to sunlight). While it may be harder going, it might be easier on knees and feet since the soil is softer and more varied. I tried walking 10meters off the Roman roads in Cambridge, but the woods were too thick 🙂

    • Tanya Savage
      | Reply

      Walking on gravel roads really sucks, but walking on soft sand alongside is hard going too! But if / when we do, we’ll keep an eye open for purple glass – I have been wondering how long some of those bottles and cans have lain there for!

  5. Jim Bispham
    | Reply

    Just catching up on your posts, I have been up around Torridon and Fisherfield, munro bagging.
    Sorry to see the photo of your poorly looking foot.
    Glad you enjoyed the Toaster House and hope you went to one or both of the Pie cafes for food.

    Keep hiking
    Milky

    • Tanya Savage
      | Reply

      Yup, the Pie Town Cafe was great! Really enjoyed Pie Town, the Toaster House was a great place to rest up. Loved your Munro photos, looking forward to getting back up to Scotland (clouds and water! Heaven!)

  6. Shelly
    | Reply

    So dang sorry to hear about this snag in the trip. I’m also thinking super wide, airy trainers would be a good option. I wear one full size bigger in my hiking shoes. Altras.

    • Tanya Savage
      | Reply

      Hi Shelly
      Just ordered some larger size trail shoes from REI – Salomon XA Pro 3D non Goretex. Neil loves his, so hope they’ll suit me too. Bit of a gamble, but getting a Greyhound to the REI in Albuquerque to try shoes on sounded like an even bigger gamble! Fingers crossed!

  7. Tanya Savage
    | Reply

    Tom, thanks for your thoughts on this. I’m not sure either whether it is gout. Not exactly been over-indulging in red meat or alcohol recently. But I’m taking Prednisone, a steroid/ anti-inflammatory and as soon as the swelling goes down we’ll be off to REI in Albuquerque for new wider and hopefully cooler shoes. Odd though – the first 100 miles of hiking was pretty damn hot so not sure why problem is showing up now and not earlier! Still rejecting option of bunion surgery which was the first thing the doctor suggested!

  8. thomas molyneux
    | Reply

    i hope by now that your foot is on the mend, i’m no doctor, but not sure of diagnosis of gout. my dad had gout this winter had no swelling just very painful to touch. also no miracle cure in england, although can’t remember the name of medication it didn’t do much. I think rest is whats needed and a lowering of your daily mileage. think you would benefit from more airflow in your footwear. lightweight trainers maybe. tough advice i know. Im really looking forward to your next update praying that your foot is better and your underway again. liking that beard Neils sporting! good luck guys.

  9. Robert R Henry
    | Reply

    ouch!

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