Hoppy Kercheval, Opinion

When I wasn’t throwing up or falling down, my vacation was great

My two-week long vacation did not turn out as planned. 

My wife and I scheduled a series of day hikes along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. We would start in the southern Virginia trail town of Damascus and work our way north, hiking a section of the trail each day and then staying in a hotel or B&B each night. 

Day-hiking the Appalachian Trail was the kind of active adventure we were looking for. We hoped to come back home trail-hardened, tanned and filled with minds-eye images of the mighty Appalachian mountains. 

The first four days went pretty well. We were equipped for the rain on day one and braved gusting winds atop Mt. Rogers, the highest point in Virginia, the second day. The Virginia portion of the AT offers hikers incredible scenery, with views of mountains, sprawling valleys and the occasional waterfall. 

We had a few brief encounters with “through hikers” who were attempting to conquer the entire 2,190 miles of the trail. Even if they don’t stop and chat, you can easily tell them from the day hikers. They are lean and setting a steady pace of 12-15 miles a day, not an easy task through the rugged mountains. 

After the fourth day, I became really ill with a stomach bug and was down for the better part of two days. We pushed on after that, optimistically chalking up the setback to “part of the adventure.”  

On a day off from hiking we were traveling near Charlottesville, so we stopped at Monticello. It was a beautiful day and the tour of Thomas Jefferson’s home and the history lesson were memorable. One of the highlights was an interpreter portraying Jefferson, who took questions and made you feel like you were really talking with the Founding Father. 

Afterward, it was a short walk down a gradual and well-groomed gravel path from Monticello to the parking area that included a stop at Jefferson’s grave. It had been a great day, I was on the mend and we felt our vacation was back on schedule. 

As I said, it was an easy path. No problem after hiking up and down rugged, rocky mountain trails, right? That’s the problem with complacency. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail means always looking down to ensure safe steps. This time I wasn’t looking where I was going, made a misstep, tripped over a rock and fell. When I got up and tried to walk there was a sharp pain in my left foot. It swelled and got worse overnight, so the next morning we decided we had had enough “adventure” and headed home. 

An X-ray revealed a crack in one the metatarsal bones in my left foot. Surgery followed a few days later. Now I’m hobbling around on crutches, while trying to keep any weight off the bad foot. 

This is certainly not the worst thing that could have happened, but it’s definitely a hassle. I’m not used to being so sedentary, and I have to rely on my wife to help me with tasks that I had always taken for granted. It is going to be this way for several weeks, although if I get a walking cast soon that will help. 

So I’m back to work and adjusting to limited mobility. When friends and co-workers ask how my vacation was, I tell them, “When I wasn’t falling down or throwing up, it was an excellent adventure.” 

Hoppy Kercheval is a MetroNews anchor and the longtime host of “Talkline.” Contact him at hoppy.kercheval@wvradio.com.