The strategy fails

The less I needed, the better I felt – Charles Bukowski

Whitefish, MT. A great place to be stuck in. I arrived here after I hitched a few rides, meeting some generous people and seeing a doctor in West Glacier. With busted knees, you got that right.

Waking up at Reynolds Creek at 5 am, one of the designated sites in Glacier National Park. It had rained throughout most of the night but I was warm, dry and safe in my little Big Agnes shelter. The rain had finally stopped. The forest was still damp and the birds started singing their songs. The rustle of Reynolds Creek audible in the distance. I was alone. Did my morning chores: broke down the tent, brushed my teeth, peed, pulled down the food bag, which was hanging on a rail between two trees, to keep the odorous items in it away from the grizzlies at night. At 5.30, I was back on the trail, ready to make my way to Atlantic Creek, a 25 mile hike over Triple Divide Pass. But after taking a couple of steps over the cruiser trail, I knew that was not going to happen.

I felt a sharp pain in both of my knees. I grabbed some Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) and told myself to keep on hiking for at least another hour blasting tunes on my phone in the meantime to keep me going. Descending down a gentle slope brought me already over the edge, in tears. I have a quite high pain tolerance, and I’m used to pushing my way through no problem. But this time that was just not an option. Deliberating what to do I then decided to hike back. Something I never did before. Hiking back, giving up, who does that?! Luckily, I was quite near the Going To The Sun Road, which crosses Glacier National Park. Back at the road a lovely couple with three dogs generously offered me a ride to a clinic in West Glacier, which I gladly accepted.

Yes, my journey gets more interesting by the minute. Busting both of my knees after hiking 3 days through stunning Glacier National Park. The trail was cruiser, I didn’t push myself, did low mileage days, never had any problems with my knees before… so what was going on? I feel that I was stopped by something and the only thing left to do was surrender and rest, exactly the thing I don’t want to do.

My younger sister messaged me today: Your strategy (going into the wilderness on my own) doesn’t work anymore. Then she wrote: Now it’s time to go on an inner journey. You’re allowed to be good to yourself; I know you’re not used to this because you were always so hard and demanding on yourself.

Right on. So here I am, in the public library of this cute mountain town called Whitefish, writing this post. I cannot walk, man you should see me limping my way around town! But the weirdest thing is: I’m totally cool with that.

I feel so good, happy, strong and confident.

I’m back to square one where I told myself to not have a plan in the first place, to take it all step by step, day by day and see what might come up, what would feel right. It’s scary to be out here by myself, to not have a plan or goal. But it’s what feels right and true for me.

I’m learning to love myself. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the biggest gift I can give to myself.

On my headphones now:


  1. Dear Viola! Girl what a start of your journey! We were already impressed by your honest and openminded first blogs… Clearly it’s your time to shine and leave a lot of luggage behind in the Mountains. But do take your backpack with anti- Grizzly spray :) Right now stuck in Whitefish, good to read this is what it is for you.. Just like you teach us in Yogaclass. We are proud of you and whatever may happen you are on your path of enlightement. Big hugs and wishing you a good knee recovery!
    Marije en Wilfred

    By the way two days ago I ( Wilf) lid a candle in Ecuador’s most beautiful Chapel destined to you for guidance and support.

  2. Dear Viola, girl what a story being stuck in Whitefish due to your knees not willing to cross the mountains! Happy to read that you trust this is the way it is and if you cannot change it you have to accept it. Just like you teach us in yogaclass and as well as Buddha said. We are so proud of you that you already took the step to take a second trail and to read that you are dealing with your past and being in the process of emptying your backpack with lifeexperiences. Please do keep your anti grizzly spray inside :) Your path of enlightenement has already started no mather how many miles you will walk after these first two weeks.
    Wishing you a good recovery and enjoy beautiful Montana! Take care Viola!
    With a big hug, Marije en Wilfred

    Two days ago I ( Wilf) lid a candle for you in a beautiful chapel in Ecuador to you for support and guidance, may it strengthen and protect you!

  3. So, now it is July 20, and Sue, Meander and I are sitting here in Bellingham wondering if those busted knees are healed yet. If not, Meander says you are welcome back here to recuperate.

    BTW… I use Aleve, or the generic equivalent. It seems to work better for me than ibuprofen. Just don’t mix the two.

    Take care, and hope you are better by now.

    1. Not yet healed guys… Thanks for sending this message. In Hood River OR now staying with my friends. Have it-band/quadriceps tendonitis and received physiotherapy the last 2 weeks. There is improvement but not to the extend that I see myself thru-hiking on this trip… still feel sharp pain walking down to the grocery store…!

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