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The Middle of My Second Week

Posted on Friday, June 2, 2006 at 05:44AM by Registered CommenterMarshall Massey in | Comments6 Comments

I’ll be setting out from Burlington, Iowa across the Mississippi at eight o’clock this morning. But before doing so, I want to quickly bring this blog up to date.

I left Mt. Pleasant two mornings ago. My hostess dropped me off at the highway, said her good-byes, and gave me a big hug. (I love hugs!) The walk began pleasantly, across the broad, nearly flat lands that dominate the topography that near the Mississippi.

Unfortunately, before even half the morning had passed, a new problem arose with my feet: the backs of them began tightening, so that I couldn’t stretch my ankles as I thrust forward from each foot, and the pain of trying to stretch them became acute. I was reduced to hobbling, and in misery.

Past lunch, when I was about halfway to my goal for the night, I was becoming concerned that this might be doing lasting damage to my joints or my tendons. Just about that time, a car pulled up, and a young brother-and-sister couple, who’d seen my evident misery, offered me a lift. They wanted to take me all the way to Burlington — a day and a half ahead of my schedule — but I thought that would be overdoing it. I did accept a ride to my goal for the current day, however — Danville, where I planned to camp. I figured the hours I bought might be spent in stretching exercises and such, to figure out what my problem was.

At Danville, then, I spent about forty minutes on a park bench, gradually stretching out my heels and listening to what the pain was telling me. It didn’t seem like it was a problem with the joints or the tendons; it felt like overtaxed muscles in there, stiffening up. At the end of the forty minutes, I struggled to my feet. The first few steps were hard, but by the time I’d hobbled a hundred yards I felt better than I’d felt in some hours.

It was now 3:30. I decided to walk a bit past my goal, listening to how my feet handled it. Big mistake! (Was I listening properly to the still, small Voice within me? I’m not sure I was.)

jun 01-03.jpgI did pretty well for an hour and a half or maybe two hours — it was still very painful to get started after taking off my pack or sitting down for any reason, but walking itself was okay. But come 5:00, when I started looking for a place to spend the night, I found myself on the edge of the giant Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (that bluish-grey semi-rectangular shape at the lower left corner of the map above), which looks very much like a vast, grim prison facility. The landscape was semi-industrial. No good places to camp. And I wasn’t likely to be offered a ride, that late in the afternoon and that near to a seeming prison.

Thus, in the end, I wound up having to walk all the way to Burlington — a total of about 21 miles of actual walking for that day. By the time I reached a motel, I could barely move!

I spent the whole of the next day — yesterday — holed up in my motel room, soaking my feet and stretching them.

Meanwhile, the young brother-and-sister couple who’d given me the lift to Danville, tipped off the local newspaper. My motel got a call from a reporter, and they connected him through to me. Could he walk with me the first few miles tomorrow? I told him my situation with my feet. He responded in an understanding manner. So he’ll be meeting me here at ten minutes before eight this morning, and we’ll see what I’m capable of.

Right now, it still hurts to stand, and I’m still reduced to hobbling. It’s not as bad as yesterday, but it’s bad.

I must say, I never had these problems in my hikes when I was young!

Tonight I’m due at Biggsville, where Monmouth Friends will begin giving me hospitality for two nights. They are already apprised of my situation, and my hostess for the coming night is prepared to pick me up early if it becomes necessary. (Thank God for cell phones! They make early pick-ups infinitely easier to arrange.)

All is in God’s hands. I must say, my physical problems in this journey have nurtured an amazingly close sense of dependence on Him, which in turn has done wonders for the peace of my heart and soul.

ew tiny.pngI think of you all, often, and with love.

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Reader Comments (6)

Hi, Marshall, It’s a little hard to tell from your description — not to mention we’ve never met! — but MAYBE you have Achilles tendonitis if it’s at the back of your heels and ankles rather than sides or bottom. I feel safe rcommending ice, ice & more ice plus stretch, stretch & stretch and whatever analgesic-antiflammatory. Maybe an over-the-counter ankle ’sleeve’ from Wal-Mart or drug store. Are you able to laugh at the fact that you sure use the word “unfortunately” a lot? Call if you wish, but I doubt my help in the physical, concrete sense. —- Alan

-- comment posted by Alan Palmer
June 2nd, 2006 at 6:28 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 05:42PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Hi, Marshall! I was reminded of your journey doing my daily looking for Quaker news stories and finding a story in the Monmouth, Illinois Review-Atlas.

So I’ve been reading in your journal. Such a journey can be expected to bring real challenges as well as real rewards, and it seems you’ve had both. I found myself wondering whether you should prayerfully consider whether to lighten the load in your backpack. In seeing the exchange with the person from India, I wonder how much an Indian doing such a long walk would carry on their back?

Anyway, may you feel God’s presence as you continue your journey.

-- comment posted by Bill Samuel, http://www.quakerinfo.com/
June 2nd, 2006 at 7:54 p.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 05:44PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Hi Marshall,

I feel for you in your pain in getting to Burlington, and in setting out again! I know that you’ve also experienced considerable joys. I admire your patient listening to the Spirit and your own body (the second a manifestation, along with the rest of the Creation, of the first). I’ll continue following your walk with great interest and holding you in the Light.


-- comment posted by Bill Cahalan
June 2nd, 2006 at 11:08 p.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 05:45PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

Though I am on the road in a completely different fashion from how you are on the road, Marshall, I am glad to read of your journey from time to time.

I am touched by your closing words here: I must say, my physical problems in this journey have nurtured an amazingly close sense of dependence on Him…

I am glad to know you recognize the Presence so close to us, always. Not only when we are pain but also when we are at peace.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

-- comment posted by Liz Opp, http://thegoodraisedup.blogspot.com/
June 3rd, 2006 at 2:00 p.m.

Sep 2, 2006 at 05:46PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Hi Marshall,

I’m REALLY sorry to hear of all of your foot pain. I’m a year younger than you AND am coming out the other side, I hope, of a month of unexpected foot pain after walking miles in the St. Louis area the end of April. Depending on your feet, how your arches are, walking habits, such a complexity that exists in our feet, one of God’s gifts to us. For half the month, I struggled with toughing it out, thinking that staying off of my feet would remedy the problem. It helped. What also helped was wearing a comfortable & supportive pair of hiking boots. Last Thursday, my chiropractor (although not his job), lovingly massaged my right foot where I’ve experienced pain, and also noticed that my arch was fallen on that foot. The massage was, indeed, heavenly. He also suggested buying a whole foot orthotic that one places in the bottom of the shoe that cost about $10.00 at a pharmacy. (I was also using a heel cup in this shoe.) WOWOW! This brought my arch back up and with massage & icing the foot a few times a day, I am now able to half walk and am getting better. And, Monday I see a podiatrist to get a further opinion & help. Funny thing is, after x-rays, they found my foot is normal BUT I’ve sure experienced a LOT of pain in that foot for it being normal.

What I can suggest is massaging your feet daily, icing in the morning & evening to take down swelling, taking minor anti-inflammatories as aspirin, ibuprofen, or brands such as Alleve, placing inexpensive orthotics in the bottoms of your shoes or boots. This has all come to me through doctors & experience.

I’m trying not to be judgmental, something us “church” people have a weakness for. God has only given us 2 feet in this life, 2 feet that he has asked us to care for. I would ask that you ask God’s guidance as you continue your journey. If it becomes too unbearable for you, perhaps you can delay your journey again OR you can continue your journey amidst the loving care that other Friends may offer along the way. We ALL want to see you reach your destination. Maybe God is nudging you with the idea that there are OTHER ways to reach your goal of getting to the East Coast other than your own feet.

I’m with you. I’ve read on the Internet of the Achilles tendon, the tibial nerves, the possibility of plantar faciitis or heel spurs - there are a multiple number of foot problems that can develop that we had NO idea existed until we have them & are stuck, dealing with them.

We have a very loving woman in our Friends Meeting, Charlotte Wood-Harrington, who is hoping to walk with you once you reach east central Indiana. She has felt lead to help you on your journey since you first announced your intentions. With clearness, she is doing ALL she can to prepare for the journey with you. I sense that, even though your intentions are to walk ALL the way, that she would appreciate your presence to speak to various Friends Meetings along the way even if you were unable to do all of the walking. She expressed GREAT confidence in your ability to communicate & share your ideas with others. Maybe this will be your “forte” in this journey rather than forcing yourself to do ALL of the walking. Needless to say, I can only share what I know. I will continue to pray for you on your journey across the U.S. and also pray, that you will seek the leading of our precious Lord as to how you will proceed in your journey, whether it be a combination of foot, carriage, bike, car, or whatever form of transportation you take in your journey. God’s Blessings to You!! May you seek the will of our Creator to guide & nurture you in your journey!!

-- comment posted by Glenn Neumann, http://tonglenuron.cc/
June 4th, 2006 at 5:33 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 05:48PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

Glenn, and Alan, many thanks for your suggestions on foot care. My primary care physician now tells me that he doesn’t agree with the physician I talked to in Galesburg; he personally thinks I have bursitis and maybe a little tendonitis too, and that it has nothing to do with hypertension. So, Alan, you and he are not far apart. Glenn, I am certainly asking God for guidance in this! And Alan, yes, I am able to laugh at the fact that I use “unfortunately” a lot! I’ve been doing a lot of — well — rueful laughing at my own weaknesses and follies and foibles on this journey!

Bill Samuel, if you’re curious, there’s another newspaper article on my walk in last Saturday’s Burlington (Iowa) Hawk Eye. I’ve put links to both articles on the new “Media Coverage” page of my web site.

Bill Cahalan and Liz, thank you for your kind and supportive words!

-- comment posted by Marshall
June 8th, 2006 at 10:22 a.m.

Sep 2, 2006 at 05:50PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

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