Butte, MT to West Yellowstone, MT and Beyond: Knee Injury, Realization, and Border Crossing

Hey ya’ll. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged and I’m very excited to share with you my experiences over the last several hundred miles.

After leaving Butte, MT, I knew that I didn’t want to do over 30 miles consistently every day. That hurt my body in a way I never wanted to experience again. However, the goal was to make it to the next rest stop in 10 days or so. I had been hiking for about a month so I figured I had my trail legs. I did. I did not however have my trail knees. I discovered the hard way. It started on day 8.

As if I hadn’t learned the first time, I blazed out of the gates of Butte like a triple crown favorite at the belmont stakes. Even though the trail conditions were prime, the ups and downs were getting more frequent, but I kept doing big miles. Between 28-30 miles to be exact. I was feeling pretty good. Until one morning.

I was camped at the bottom of a steep climb that would take me over a pass situated at about 9,000 feet. I left camp at around 8:00 a.m. My usual time. I took my first step with excitement as I do every day and to my dismay, my left knee wobbled like a bobble head doll. Ouch!! My ligament! Or patella? I didn’t know where the pain was coming from. It hurt all over. I hobbled up the pass and finally I collasped to the ground.

I could not bear the pain any longer. I called my mother. I always do when I’m in distress. What to do? She gave me a list of options. I sat there trying not to get sick. Trying to be calm. No use wasting energy. I checked my maps. 8 miles from the nearest road. And wouldn’t you know it? It lead to a town. Godwink. My mother and I formulated a plan and I limped the whole way to the road. It took all of my strength. I got to the road and had service. Godwink. I called the only hotel in Jackson, MT. I explained my situation. A young lady came and picked me up and drove me to town. I entered the hotel. Hobbled to the bed. My head hit the pillow. Lights out.

I woke up a little while later, hungry and aching. I took a hot shower and gathered my thoughts. I sure as hell wasn’t going to hike the next day. Maybe even the next. I was still trying to decide if I needed to go to the hospital. “Wait until morning.” I told myself this repeatedly. I got something to eat at the neighboring cafe. I came back to the room and got out my maps. Planning time.

I came to the realization that if I wanted to finish this trail, I needed to decrease my mileage, and shorten my route. It was no longer going to be 3,000 miles. However, I wanted the triple crown more than anything. I did not want to jepordize it by burning myself out. So I decided that I was going to take alternates in Colorado and New Mexico that would shorten my journey by 100s of miles. I felt better about the whole thing. About not taking the official route? Who cares anymore. This trail is known as the hike your own adventure trail. Multiple routes can be taken to arrive at the same destination. I like that. It felt liberating to no longer be constricted by my own standards on taking the official route. My health is far more important. As far as the hospital, I decided not to go.

These past 10 days have been nothing short of fabulous. Since my injury, I have shortened my days, walked slower, took more frequent breaks; and have done more stretching. I find myself in the town of Bozeman, MT where I am spending time with cousins. They have been so generous with there hospitality. I cross into Wyoming tomorrow. I also enter Yellowstone National Park.

All I can really say is this. Life is good. God is great. When life gives you limes, make a gin and tonic.

7 thoughts on “Butte, MT to West Yellowstone, MT and Beyond: Knee Injury, Realization, and Border Crossing

    1. Oh boy…you know the rules – NO injuries. Just like running, you were overdoing it and by taking a 0 day and tapering back, you salvaged the day! Congrats on that!

  1. Loved reading this post. Even though I knew what happened, it reads like a novel. Enjoy this journey Jacob. It’s one most people could only dream of.

  2. All the best to you Jacob. I love knowing that we have a true adventurer in the family. God bless you on the rest of your journey.

  3. Jacob, this is so beautifully written. You truly have a gift. You write with the perfect blend of information, analogies, imagery, suspense, colorful language, heartwarming sentiment, and humor. I was happy to be there for you when you called, and I’m always a phone call away. Remember that God is right beside you, watching over you every step of the way. I love you! ❤️

  4. Sounds like you are having a great trip. Enjoy the views. I went to school with your mom. I live in Casper WY. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Enjoy

    1. Hi Maryann. Thank you for reaching out. You are so kind! Jacob is loving this adventure! Hope you continue to follow his journey.

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