DJ2, sorry to hear you are in that situation but I think I can provide some hope for you.

My significant other had the same problem many years ago (17?) and has returned to backpacking with no problems. The initial recovery period was quite painful for him, and he mostly lay around on his back, sometimes with the knees up. I was visiting him at the time (he lived across the country) and remember tieing his shoes for him, etc. He started walking as soon as he was able (short walks at first, building up to a few miles), and actually found that it was the most pain-free thing he could do (better than standing, sitting, or lying down, and the relief lasted for a while after the walk). For several years after that, he would periodically get a muscle spasm in his back that may or may have not been related to the earlier disc problem, but even that has gotten pretty rare.

He found right away that going to a chiropractor made his disc problem worse, and that what helped was starting to do back exercises once he was able to do that - situps/crunches, back arching, etc. He still does them religiously.

I will also say that my father herniated a lumbar disc when I was younger (also made worse by a chiropractor), and he was told by an orthopedist not to have surgery unless it was a last resort. He also did the exercises (I remember lying next to him on the living room floor and copying him) and was able to return to normalcy. In the worst part of it, he had a hospital bed in our house with a pelvic traction girdle hooked up to sandbags! As his orthopedist explained, the material that squishes out of the disc presses on the nerves needs to be re-absorbed by the body before you can get rid of the pain, then the back muscles need to be strengthened to prevent re-injury. Or that's how I recall it, anyway. You also need to be aware, if you aren't already, of what sorts of movements tend to injure backs (twisting while lifting, lifting with arms or back rather than using leg muscles, etc.).

I wish you the best of luck - if you want to talk to my SO, shoot me a PM and I'll get you in touch with him. Take care -

P.S. Don't mean to sound like I'm dissing chiropractors in general, I understand a lot of people feel relief from them for many things, but in my limited experience here seems like their manipulations might not be good for things like a herniated disc.