A couple of weeks ago, I announced all of my exciting Nepal Plans: Exploring the national park, seeing the fabled lake in Pokhara, and hiking to Everest Base Camp.
I had finally psyched myself up for what would most likely be the most exhausting and exhilarating three weeks of my life. I was ready for anything.
Then, four days before we were set to head to higher altitudes, I managed to break the big toe on my left foot.
How? Let’s play a quick game. How do you think I broke it?
A. Bathing this Elephant
B. Paragliding Over Annapurna
C. Walking through Chitwan National Park
D. Hanging out in this waterfall
If you guessed, C – WALKING – you are correct.
Somehow, during a rather tame jungle hike, I managed to smash my toe into a rogue root. We had heard that a group of rhinos was hanging out nearby and in our haste to see them, our group picked up the pace. I hurried to follow and somehow lost track of my feet.
Suddenly I stubbed my toe and felt a pop in my big toe. Thinking it was the normal stinging pain the accompanies any stubbed toe, I limped on, eager to see the Rhinos.
Shannon and I were hiking through Chitwan National Parkwith a guide and two other American tourists. We had been told we were going on a canoe ride – no mention of the hour long hike to follow. Thinking I would be in a boat, I had only worn my flip flops, leaving my toes woefully unprepared for the roots they would encounter.
After some prolonged limping, the other four had soon out distanced me. I began limping faster to catch up. My toe was still hurting, long after the normal stubbed toe period. I’m actually no stranger to foot injuries. A few years ago I managed to step on a tar nail which went through my shoe and into the sole of my foot – effectively nailing my shoe to me.
This hurt so much worse.
Soon tears were streaming down my face and I had to stop to nurse my foot. At this point, Shannon turned around and noticed my distress. Feeling bad that we might miss the Rhinos (THE highlight of any Chitwan visit), I assured I was okay and continued one.
Ten minutes later, we reached the clearing where the rhinos were visible. I was in two much pain to even take a look. I just sat down on the ground, held my toe and sobbed.
(Luckily, at some point I rallied enough to snap this quick photo. Stupid Rhino)
Shannon, was instantly concerned and had soon procured Aleve and water from some confused Japanese tourists. The guide too was worried, and spent a few minutes poking my injured toe while I tried to regain my composure.
The other two Americans completely ignored me. They saw me huddled in pain, tears streaming down my face, and walked right by me as if they didn’t even see me. Even the now waterless Japaneese tourists seemed more concerned.
Soon, while I nursed my toe, I overheard a discussion between Shannon, the Guide and the two Americans regarding our next steps. Shannon and the guide thought we should head back, the Americans of course felt we should continue on.
Feeling bad that I might ruin their experience, I insisted we continue. I did feel a little ridiculous:
“I stubbed my toe, I think we should turn back”
Two hours later, we arrived at the jeep and my toe was turning purple. After ignoring me for the entire rest of the hike, the other American’s finally begrudgingly acknowledged that maybe I had hurt myself.
(Side note, my feet are gross…. I know)
Later, after they had left, our guide summed it up perfectly, “They are from the same country as you, but they don’t care about your pain.”
We tossed around the idea of going to the hospital, but I was certain that there was nothing to be done for a broken toe – besides we had plans to spend the night on a Jungle observation tower and I didn’t want to miss out.
So, I grabbed some ice and spent the evening watching for wild boars while trying to tend to my toe.
With the hike still looming ever closer, I made the decision to go forward the the trek for better or for worse. It’s just Everest, right?