Three Days of Backpacking with Arthritic Knees

8:43 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I just returned from three days of backpacking in the Lusk Creek Wilderness Area of Shawnee National Forest. It was my first backpacking trip since March, and my first since my "hiker's knees" were actually diagnosed as arthritis. Steps I took to prepare included 1) physical therapy, 2) adding trekking poles, 3) adding better arch support to my shoes, and 4) lightening my backpack SIGNIFICANTLY (My base weight was 12lbs. With food, water, & fuel, I just weighed in at 20lbs.)


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IT WORKED! We put in about 30 miles over 3-days on hilly, uneven terrain. The first day we did 12.5 miles, with lots of steep ascents & descents, switchbacks, & mudholes to navigate around. My knees never bothered me once. In fact, I've never felt so good after a multi-day trip. Going UL (or near UL) made a HUGE difference in multiple areas. For one, I noticed I didn't groan every time I shouldered my pack. Second, my shoulders were never sore. Third, I didn't spend my day readjusting my pack for comfort. Once it was on, I could focus all my attention on hiking, not on discomfort. 

My experiment with Foil Bag Cooking was a great success. We ate delicious, hot meals every night, and it only required boiling a cup or two of water. The only cleanup was to lick my spoon clean (and stick it in boiling water at the next meal).

Powdered Peanut Butter???? We discussed it in the forums. I tried it on the trail. I started a video review of it on the trail. You'll get my opinion in a few days.

I took a lot of pictures (see below), made a video (which I'll post later), and reviewed a bunch of gear (I've got to put all that together).

It was a great time on the trail, with the key thought, "Arthritis will not keep me from hiking the AT in 9.5 years!"


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9:17 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice! 

That's excellent you were able to reduce weight and make other adjustment to such success. Kudos! 

Your photos are great, too; it looks like you had a wonderful trip. 

That big ledge with all those plants growing in rows on the ledges is really cool. It looks like that's a passage underneath as well, was that actually the case? Very cool, if so. 

Is that stream cold enough to support trout, or just panfish and little bass?

10:19 a.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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nice report and can't wait to see your videos. Looks like I can add another place to go backpacking that isn't to far away. what maps would you recommend for this area

12:47 p.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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gonzan said:

Nice! 

That's excellent you were able to reduce weight and make other adjustment to such success. Kudos! 

Your photos are great, too; it looks like you had a wonderful trip. 

That big ledge with all those plants growing in rows on the ledges is really cool. It looks like that's a passage underneath as well, was that actually the case? Very cool, if so. 

Is that stream cold enough to support trout, or just panfish and little bass?

 Yes, it's actually a natural bridge and is a destination trail for many horse riders.

Funny you should mention fish. In my video I comment on noticing a couple of large fish & I wondered if one was a trout. But there's no trout in this stream, only bass.

1:01 p.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Ewker said:

nice report and can't wait to see your videos. Looks like I can add another place to go backpacking that isn't to far away. what maps would you recommend for this area

 Try this link: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5404767.pdf

I also print out USGS Topomaps from www.mytopo.com. This gives me more details than the trail map & I carry the two maps to keep me on tract.

Where are you that "isn't too far away?"

2:13 p.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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I got the bad news about my knee and hip pain last fall.  Doctor told me the arthritis won't get any better, but it will feel better if I continue to exercise.

She was right.  although at the end of the day I have significant pain,  the next day I feel much better than before the hike.

9:54 p.m. on July 9, 2013 (EDT)
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12:49 p.m. on July 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Awesome!  Thanks for bringing awareness to the fact that hikers need to maintain their bodies in order to reap the rewards of the outdoors.  Physical maintenance is often overlooked on the trail.  Also recovering from injury (compound double fracture), I have learned the value of simple mobility as a direct improvement in my hiking ability.  Click appalachiantrailfaq.com/hiking-mobility/ to check out some amazing tips for mobility and physical maintenance.

thanks,

Sean

appalachiantrailfaq.com

5:55 p.m. on July 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice trip report!  Injuries are a bummer.  Back in 2008, I had a lisfranc injury and tore my foot up pretty bad.  Tore the lisfranc ligament and had multiple fractures.  I've had chronic arthritis in that foot since, even though I had three permanent pins inserted in the foot to prevent arthritis.  In Nov 2012, I tore my ACL playing for a men's soccer recreational league and had arthoscopic surgery to remove loose bodies in March.  I was able to fully recover and finally was able to get out there again.  It's always great hearing stories in which people have overcome injuries.  Thanks once again for sharing!!

1:05 p.m. on July 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip report Jeff, glad to see the adjustments you made paid off with a great experience! Love the photos as well, thanks for sharing.

July 24, 2014
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