The Day I Hit the Wall and Lost My Toenails

I was 12 years old when I hit the wall. I had been hiking all day, walking many miles into the woods to a collection of cabins where we’d spend three nights. I was with about 16 others, but we had broken into smaller groups, hiking with friends or those who hiked at the same pace.

While I was used to walking and hiking with a pack, this day, I had set a pace with a few older friends, and we had gotten lost. After two hours, we found our way and continued onto the camping site. A program leader and a few others started back to find us since we hadn’t arrived and it was getting late. We met up with them, and as we told stories about where we had ended up, I kept chugging along, adjusting my pack on my shoulders and anticipating a break because I was tired.

Then it happened. Without warning, I was lying in the bushes, collapsed and crying. I had no idea what had hit me. I struggled to rise, but the leader told me to stay down.

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