Today was a town day, sorting out some medical issues and getting new boots.
I am staying at the Microtel which, by all accounts, is the best hotel in Franklin. The rooms are ok, the breakfast buffet is ok and the thru-hiker special rate of $54 is good value, but it is several miles of unwalkable major roads from the main downtown area with most of the useful shops, post office, etc and has no laundry service so you have to walk 0.8 miles of roadway with no sidewalks to a hidden shopping plaza to get to the closest laundromat – one which is not even mentioned in the town’s official Franklin Hiker Services’ leaflet! (said leaflet also not being mentioned by the hotel front desk when I checked in).
Anyway, after wondering around this hiker-unfriendly part of town in my rain gear for 30 minutes looking like a weirdo trying to find the laundromat (fellow thrus: go down PAST Lowes AND K-Mart and you see a secret unsignposted shopping plaza) while the sun beat down on me I eventually found it and turned bad-smelly clothes into good-smelly clothes, changing into more socially acceptable garb afterwards in the laundromat bathroom.
When I headed back towards the hotel I decided to pop into the Angel Urgent Medical Centre and see if they could help with my lingering thumb+finger tingling and numbness. It had been 10 days or so since the disaster of Day 1 and it was still a constant problem. I was beginning to get a bit worried it was permanently damaged.
They were friendly and registered me quickly and were able to cope with my UK-sourced travel/health insurance policy from True Traveller. The lady who registered me actually gave me her email address to forward her the insurance certificate I had filed in a Gmail folder. How modern! After only about 45 minutes I was seen by a doctor who did some tests and declared he was confident it was just residual nerve inflammation that would likely settle down in a few more weeks. He prescribed some strong NSAIDs to take for 2 weeks to reduce any muscle inflammation that might still be affecting the radial nerve.
So next stop was the nearest pharmacy where I also got some Epsom salts for my blisters and a rather nice banana protein milkshake.
Then I called Outdoor 76, an outfitter in what I like to call ‘the real Franklin’ and they sent a car to pick me up. Cool! In store (and a beautiful store it is too, though not big) I was helped by Rob, the co-owner and he took 2.5 hours with me to figure out the best way forward, giving me a ton of good information on making it to Maine as well as narrowing down a selection of new shoes for me to help my Achilles and blister problems. His main advice to me though was to slow down.
Rob is a great guy with a wealth of knowledge and very good communication skills. I had heard him on the Pox and Puss Podcast and had noted down that this was the place to come for footwear advice if I needed it. Here is a flavour of him in action:
Rob had to leave around 5 to get ready to go on vacation the next day so handed over to Jonathan. Together we decided on one of the two final pairs of hiking shoes (Vasque Mantra 2.0) and then he fitted some new Soles insoles as well. As Rob had earlier proclaimed my main blister to be one of the worst he had ever seen I will have to wait for it to die down before I know which insoles are best for me so I will just have to carry two pairs around for a week or two!
Outdoor 76 have a sideline interest in craft beers and encourage thru-hikers to sign one of the bar walls. So I did (mine is in there somewhere!). They also gave me a delicious bottle of a coffee stout.
Between them Rob and Jonathan spent 4 hours helping me and then one of the staff drove me back to the hotel. Incredible customer service and I can’t thank them enough.
Anyway after all of that it was now dinner time and I still had a ton of chores to do (my ATM card doesn’t work in ATM machines, uncool!) so I booked another night at the Microtel, Rob’s long and stern lecture about slowing down still ringing in my ears and had my second Arby’s sandwich in two nights. Must try something else tomorrow!