I too really enjoyed reading your report. Thank you for sharing it.
I have not done much solo overnight hiking. But I got that spooky feeling--what am I *doing* out here?--on a New Mexico trip when I took my younger son, then 14, and his 13-year-old friend. Pecos Wilderness in August, "monsoon season." All the horse parties passed us going down. All the other hikers didn't even try. Steady rain all the way up to Pecos Baldy Lake. On other trips to that area, we've always seen other groups. This time, no one at all up there. It hit me during the night, here I am up here miles from anyone with 2 children to care for...yes the boys were old enough to be competent, and they were, but that's how it felt. We completed our 4-day circuit in the rain, ate wild strawberries, saw more kinds of mushrooms than I've seen anywhere.
My older son through-hiked the John Muir Trail solo at age 17 in 1998. He said it was beautiful country, and a good adventure, but that he will *never* do a long hike solo again. For him, it was just too lonely, he said.
Thinking about your injuries. It sounds like you paced yourself for some pretty high mileages, but perhaps that is your normal pace. Still, I found myself wondering if pushing yourself like that, even with a light pack, contributed to the problems. I understand that for many folks going fast is part of the fun, but it seems like it might work better to give our urban selves a break, go more leisurely, be more "on vacation." I do hope you experienced a speedy recovery when you got home.
We have done a little bit of hiking in the Buffalo National River area; it really is beautiful, rough country. We are hoping to hike one of the long trails up there when we get more time.