We’re sitting in the car, waiting for the hail to stop falling from a sky that turns from blue to grey, dark, black within minutes time. For the second time this week I’m heading into the hospital of my hometown in Belgium. Daniel came all the way from our place in Germany to be with me. I’m happy he’s coming with me because I’m too scared to go alone. When the hails stops and the sun starts shining again, we walk towards the big ugly building. It’s new but it’s ugly, all hospitals are ugly. I hate them. I’ve seen enough of them when I was a kid, and when I get into the entry hall, when I smell that smell of disinfectant and illness, it makes my stomac turn.

I don’t have to wait long. The doctor lets me in and looks at the Xrays. Last friday I had them taken, and after a long day of waiting, on friday evening I was told things aren’t okay, they are not okay at all. I spend the weekend trying to distract my mind but it keeps wandering. The PCT, the pct, the pct… o my god, the pct. Is this gonna shatter my dream, keep me from making it come true?  The specialist doctor I go to see today is nice and friendly, she asks me about my plans and I tell her about the PCT. Then she looks at the Xrays, and she looks back at me. “You have hip dysplasia.” I fight back my tears.  “Let me talk to another doctor,” she says. When she puts down the phone, she tells me there is no way around surgery. And this ain’t an ini mini thing. We’re talking about major surgery, a hip reconstruction, which is gonna take me down for weeks, no months! How come no one has seen this when I was born, ’cause yes a person is born with hip dysplasia and they can treat it when you’re small, how come I only find this out now? 50 frikking days before I leave for my thruhike of the PCT?

“I’m not sure if you’re gonna be able to walk 4000km, ” she says to me. “You are gonna have to be very very careful and you will have to stop as soon as you start limping.” So this is gonna shatter my dream after all?

I tell her there is no way that I’m gonna give up my dream that easily. I can’t give up. I don’t want to. I won’t! I will have the surgery afterwards. These next 6 months are mine. After that they can cut me open and break my bones and do a reconstruction. But not untill I come back from the US.

Daniel and I start thinking of emergency plans. It’s crazy to hike more than 4000km with this defect. O PCT I’ve been dreaming of you for so so long. Why does this happen to me now? I know that is a stupid question to ask ’cause it won’t take me any further. Instead I need to think positive. How are we gonna deal with this? I’m inbetween breaking down and trying to keep my hopes up.

Slowly I start making peace with the thought that I might not become a PCT thruhiker. I struggle with the feeling that I will disappoint everyone, everyone who has been supporting me, sponsoring me, everyone who believes in me. It’s a ridiculous thing to think but I still think it. I’m gonna hike, o yes, but will I thruhike? I hope with all of my heart that I can, but there is a big chance that my body won’t be able to, not with hip dysplasia.

The emergency plan is the only thing that still puts a smile on my face. If I can’t continue hiking, we will buy a special bike, a tandem bike, where I will be able to lay in front (and in that way take the load from my hips) and Daniel will sit in the back. IF we have to get off the PCT due to my hip problem we will ride north along the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route, which roughly follows the same route as the PCT. We would’t be only riding bike but combine it with shorter hikes on the PCT, like the JHase Pino Tour bikeMT,… No way that I’m gonna miss the Sierra, Crater Lake, the Cascades… Even with hip dysplasia, I should be able to tackle that. How we are gonna pay for that bike? I don’t know ’cause it’s frikking expensive, but we will find a way. We always find a way.


I’m sitting on my parents couch now; I haven’t got many tears left after all the crying I’ve been doing in the last couple days. The sun is shining, the sky is clear blue, a strong wind is blowing. Like as if no storm ever passed by. But unfortunately it did, and it caused a lot of damage,
but I’m not gonna let it shatter my dream!!!


30 thoughts on “Fighting the storm

  1. Cat, I’m so sorry to hear this is happening to you. I can understand how distressing this would be so close to your departure date. Did the hip dysplasia bother you when you did the JMT or any other of the big hikes you’ve done? Is it certain to bother you on the PCT? Holding good and hopeful thoughts for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Julie!!! It hasn’t bothered me till now. That’s why I never found out about it. I danced ballet for 10 years, have been rock climbing since I was a kid, did all sorts of crazy stuff.. nothing ever happened. But I’m in pain now and I have inflammations all around my hip. I am now trying to deal with the inflammations and I hope to reduce them untill I hit the trail. It’s not certain if it’s gonna bother me on the PCT but I have to be very careful not to damage my cartilage more. We will see what happens. I will listen to my body very carefully ;c)


  2. OMG! So much I want to say… Maybe later when I have more time. For now let me comment on letting down supporters and sponsors. Cat, the support comes not because of what you are going to do, it comes because people CARE about who you are. That is liberating…and healing. More later…😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Mark. Yeah you are right. I just find it so hard right now, to not think that I disappoint people. I don’t want to let anyone down. But I just can’t change things right now. I have to deal with it and make the best out of it. Thanks so much for supporting me and for your encouraging words!!!


  3. You are so strong! The fact that you will not give up shows your character! Take these 6 months and run with them- or hike, or bike, or whatever you will do!! Keep moving and keep your chin up girly! We’re all rooting for you. You have a fierce spirit!

    Liked by 2 people

    • O Allison, thanks for being such a kind friend! Really. I feel like I always can count on you for support and I am really grateful for that. I’ll keep my chin up. This ain’t gonna stop me!!!! I’m still gonna rock! :c)


  4. I’m very sorry to hear the news and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you can finish your hike strong despite your prognosis but even if your body tells you it is a time to stop walking, this doesn’t mean your dream is shattered, only merely postponed. Remember the only way to shatter a dream is to stop following it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Very disheartening news 😦 I pray for successful surgery and fast healing time with no complications, I enjoy very much reading you blog and look forward to reading about the PCT hike I know you will complete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!!!! I will have the surgery done after I come back. So I’m gonna travell and blog for the next 6 months, no matter what happens. I might not be able to thruhike the whole way but it will be an adventure none the less :c) I hope you follow along ;c)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was born with hip dysplasia and luckily a substitute Doctor detected it in a routine check up as a baby. No one checked for that. He did as it occurred often in the village in China he was from. So I had surgery/casts/braces. I am very grateful. I do think that I do not have a 100% aligned hips however as I have some hips/knee/ feet issues. I also have discovered a genetic link to Hungarians is likely. My Aunt had it and a few people I have met unrelatedly as well have been Hungarian. I would not be shocked if you had Hungarian blood!

    I currently have a horrible ankle..Not sure if injured or the structure of my foot. I had to leave the JMT early last summer ( my second JMT…so at least I did the full thing once). I desperately want to do the Colorado Trail in the next few years…and can’t train right now…so frustrating. Whatever you accomplish will be amazing. I will be routing for you. Remember to tell yourself you ste doing the whole thing regardless…because if you go Inyo it saying “maybe” then you definitely won’t complete it. Its psychological. But whatever happens happens! I will be following you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Niki for sharing your story!!! I’m sorry to hear about your ankle. I know how frustrating injuries are. I’ve been dealing with a knee injury for almost 2 years now and I also had a hard (but still wonderful and amazing) time on the JMT. Thanks sooo much also for your encouragement. You’re right… No “maybe”… Whatever I will do, It will be great! Good luck to you too. I hope your ankle heals quick!!!!


  7. I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with this so close to your PCT start date. Your positive attitude will carry you through. You’re not disappointing anyone, injuries are a part of life and there is nothing you could have done about it. As you said, you will find a way!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh no Cat, I’m soooooooooo sorry what heartbreaking news. I hope you can do it, I really do. I know it would be so heartbreaking if you couldn’t. BUT you have to do what is best for you and your body, do not worry about other people. This is something you cannot help. If it comes down to it that you can’t hike it this year, the trail will always be there. Stay strong, no matter what happens you got this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jaxx, my friend!!! Thanks for encouraging me and following along from the beginning on. I can’t wait to finally meet you this spring/summer. Wuhuuu, I’m looking forward to it!!!! We’re gonna have fun!!!


  9. “Never give up, never surrender!” – Irgendjemand der nicht mehr lebt.

    Ich denke Euer Back-up Plan hört sich gut an. Was ich Dir auf alle Fälle empfehlen würde ist vor der Abreise mal mit dem Carsten von http://blog.fastpacking.de zu babbeln, der hatte nämlich einen nicht ganz billige Operation in der USA als er auch den PCT thru-hiken wollte die sehr unerwartet nötig wurde.

    Aber das klappt sicher mit dem PCT – wenn nicht in 2015 dann in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dankje Hendrik. Nee hoor ik geef niet op. Nicht jetzt, not ever ;c) Ich werde alles tun, um eine OP in den USA zu vermeiden, die kann ich da einfach nicht bezahlen. Ich werde “einfach” sehr sehr vorsichtig sein müssen. Die Ärzten meinten, dass ich schon gehen darf aber “bloss nichts verrücktes” machen soll. Ob den PCT wandern verrückt ist? Haha. Na ja, jedenfalls wird jetzt immer weiter an dem Back-up Plan gesponnen. Eine Combi aus Radreise plus die geilsten Strecken des PCTs wandern hört sich ja doch auch nicht schlecht an :cP Ich versuche jedenfalls, das Beste raus zu machen. Cheers nach Finland!!!


  10. Hey Cat, ich lese unheimlich gerne Deinen Blog und bewundere Deinen Lebensstil und Deine Einstellung. Gib nicht auf, Du schaffst das! Ich an Deiner Stelle würde erst die OP machen um dann wirklich mit Genuss und der nötigen Ruhe den Trail zu laufen. Auch wenn es sich um mehrere Monate verschiebt, aber Deine treuen Fans und Sponsoren stehen auch in 6 Monaten noch hinter Dir. Nach der OP und der Reha kannst Du neue Kräfte sammeln und musst nicht die ganze Zeit Angst haben, dass Dein Körper womöglich doch versagen könnte. Mit freiem Kopf lässt es sich doch viel besser wandern!!! Ich wünsche Dir alles Liebe und ganz viel Kraft! Du schaffst das! LG Alexandra

    Liked by 1 person

    • Danke Alexandra für deine liebe Nachricht! Ich werde nicht aufgeben. Die OP wird allerdings bis nach der Reise warten müssen. Die Flügtickets, die Permits, das Visa, alles ist da, die Freizeit…. Da ich selbständig bin, ist es nicht so einfach, 6 Monate frei zu nehmen und die nächsten Jahren sind schon voll mit Terminen in unserer Wildnisschule. Die Reha wird bis zu einem Jahr dauern (und es kann sein -so doch die Ärztin-, dass ich danach nie wieder so lange Strecken wandern kann), deswegen werde ich den Versuch jetzt wagen, aber sobald es zu viel Weh tut werde ich aufhören. Und so langsam schliesse ich Frieden mit dem Emergency plan, der viel weniger belastend ist für meine Hüfte… Ein Abenteuer wird es so oder so. Ganz liebe Grüße!!!


      • Ok. hast recht, es hängen natürlich noch weitaus mehr Dinge dran, insbesondere wenn Ihr schon die Flüge bezahlt und Visa beantragt habt. Ich freue mich auf viele tolle Berichte und Blogeinträge und wünsche Dir, dass es ein unvergesslich schönes, aufregendes und abenteuerliches Erlebnis wird. Falls Du mal ne Fotografin suchst, würde ich Dir gerne zur Seite stehen. Liebe Grüße und Kopf hoch! Alexandra

        Liked by 1 person

  11. More than anything, I’m glad that you’re able to figure out what has been going on with you. The trail will be there when you’re healed and you’ll be be even hungrier for it. That’s not a bad thing.

    Although the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route does sound like a lot of fun.

    Whichever route you decide to go this year, mend well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Bill! Yeah I’m glad too that I finally know what is going on. Well I’d rather had heard another diagnosis, but it is what it is and I will try to make the best out of it. I will hit the trail as planned and I will see what happens. If I’m in too much pain I will switch to riding bike and combine that with shorter hikes on the most beautiful stretches (don’t know what these are yet :cP ) on the PCT. Either way it’s gonna be awesome! :c)

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Just started reading your posts. Sorry to hear about this latest developement but with your spirit I’m sure you will prevail. Just retired from a working life that everyday required being in the wild. Have had 100’s of encounters with wildlife from the very small, (hummingbirds) to the huge (Grizzly bears). Just read about your cougar encounter. I worked in one job that entailed dragging a 200 foot (60 m.) measuring tape behind a crew of three. (before the days of GPS) I have only seen four cougars in 50 years of working but never had an experience like yours. One day a crew was out surveying and looked behind to see a cougar playing with the end of the tape like a housecat would. I was not on this crew but very amusing. With your experience, although very frightening at the time, I believe you acted with courage and wisdom, and respect for the animal.
    With encouragement, I know you will get through this latest bump in the road.
    Walk on.
    Thank You, Robert

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robert, thanks for sharing that great story!!! What a wonderful image I have in my head right now: A cougar playing like a housecat. When I watch my cat Phoebe at home I often think of the cougar I met. All cats look a bit alike and I am sure they are in their character too (well not completely but still). I hope to meet (or at least see from a safe distance haha) another cougar, maybe I can bring a rope with me on trail and drag it behind me… here kitty here…. hahaha. Thanks for your encouraging words too. I will get through :c) Happy trails! Cat


  13. Hello Cat,

    So sorry to hear of your prognosis. I know how ready you are to hike the PCT this year. I replied to you when you wrote “Loveletter to a Thruhiker” so I am going to quote a line from your poem here….

    “You inspire the people that cross your path. You are brave enough to live what many people dream of.”

    Nothing wrong with keeping the dream alive a bit longer. You are young enough that you can still hike all of the hikes you planned for. Make sure you understand what’s necessary AFTER you have your surgery so you can continue to hike, and protect yourself from further injury beforehand. I am getting a knee replacement next year and am having to deal with issues on long hikes.

    As for letting your readers down, don’t give that a second thought. You are a good writer and folks will love to follow you no matter what you are doing. I have not heard of the bike trail you mentioned that follows close to the PCT, that is a great idea! I want to learn more about that.

    You will have to ask yourself if you end up biking a lot of the PCT if you would want to come back later and hike it. Based on your writings, I think I know the answer.

    Robert’s description of the cougar playing with the tape line is priceless. Makes you think about nature in really different way.

    I look forward to reading about your experience and how you adjust to a new set of circumstances.

    Take care Cat,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim, thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I really hope I keep on inspiring people. It feels like that has become even more important to me now. I wish you a lot of strength for your own surgery next year. I hope all goes well. Let us keep on dreaming! Take care!!! Cat


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