I woke up a little nervous but okay, asked a groggy Annie if I could borrow her sandals to wear up to do our presentation (in order to try them out to see if they're mountain decent worthy). I open up the Gray Knob log and write an entry describing my time at the cabin and my experiences of climbing my first few mountains.
Before we leave to check out the plots, Laura offered me duct tape for my boots. I take them outside, sit on a rock, and attempt to repair, help or otherwise un-wreck my boots. Complete failure.
The duct tape won't stick to any surface of my gritty, wet boots. So, sandals, it seems are my only options. Thankfully I put on the one thick pair of hiking socks I had left and went up to do our plot. I wrapped my ankles and the bridges/arches of my feet in tight tape, put the socks on, and strapped on the sandals. I packed up my pack, which felt just as heavy as the ascent, and took Laura's poles to clime down with. The dead boots were strapped to the outside of the pack because they were wet and smelly, and so that I could switch to them if I absolutely had to.
I got strange looks form the class when I showed up in sandals, which quickly turned to silence when I showed them y dead boots and they reailzed I didn't have a choice. For the first part of the descent it was easy and I was in good spirits, singing optimistically. Ray said he liked the singingin because it got Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away" out of his head.
As it got steeper I began to really rely on the poles to be my additional balance, a great way not to kill myself by falling forward. My feet and knees hurt pretty badly and I was very slow which I am sure annoyed some people but it really was my maximum sandal speed. The trail was wet from rains, the rocks were steep and it took a bit of thinking each time I wanted to place my foot somewhere. It was at this point, too that I realized that my body doesn't trust my left ankle/foot at all and that the right one had to go first to stabilize anything. This meant that I was lopsided walking most of the time, but I had to do whatever I could to make it down.
Three hours later I got to the rock that we had stopped at on the way up, the point at which I wondered if I'd made it up at all. I passed the milestone with enthusiasm and a short while later the ground leveled out. We cut across a power cut and were were back at Lowe's store where we had started. I got high fives all around when we met back up at the end.
I'm not sure how long it will take my body to recover from this trip, but I do feel very encouraged about my physical abilities. I've lost even more weight since then, and I think that I'm in better shape than I have been in the past 10 years. I'm encouraged, exhausted, relieved, that I survived it, and with such a fun story to tell. I don't know if I'll do such a major backpacking type trip again very soon, but I'm no longer as afraid of it as I used to be.