Today started extra early but not for the reasons it had previous mornings. As I’ve posted for the past week or so my stomach has been acting strange. Around 3 am I awoke with some severe stomach cramps and feeling nauseous. Out into the darkness I went before something bad could happen. As Paul described it, “you were grunting and then growling like a bear”. I didn’t find this very funny at the time because I felt awful…and frankly he’s lucky I made it out of the tent. However, he was right. I was sick and it was coming out both ends. We both knew what this was “Giardia”, a wonderfully sneaky bacteria that comes from contaminated water that can be found in lakes and streams…or “carnies” that don’t wash their damn hands when they prepare your food, and/or fail to wash lettuce. We have been filtering, “most” of the time. This condition occurs on the trail and sadly is not uncommon, so we had our doctor prescribe the antibiotic for it before we left home. We discussed my condition and decided to start on the medicine immediately. Over the past week several other hikers have left the trail practically crawling with the illness. At 7am I looked up info on my phone and found that one can have mild symptoms without knowing they are infected. However, if you consume diary products you can have a lactose intolerance reaction and have severe symptoms. Yesterday at Old Station I had a large bowl of ice cream and afterwards felt ill. I’m certain I am infected. Fortunately, if I can say that, my friend Donna is meeting us in Burney to join us for a few days on the trail. 911 to Donna and she’s on her way to rescue me. We decide Paul should hike on. There’s nothing he can do for me. I would rather be left alone anyway. We will meet in Burney in two days, 35 miles. Paul sets off at 8am. “I’ll see you in two days”, he says, and he’s off. I’m okay with him hiking on as I am seriously miserable and his attempt at cheering me up with humorous remarks is NOT helping. I sit at the picnic tables at Subway Cave close to the restroom which I’m frequenting more often than I prefer. This sucks! It’s a perfect day to hike Hat Creek Rim, a searing hot, powder dry, waterless stretch of trail that is rich however, with trail magic, of which I will miss…plus it’s overcast and rainy, another plus. I wait for Donna to rescue me. She reminds me via text that I’m not allowed to puke in her car. I respond that that particular issue is not the problem at the moment. I sip water with a mix of electrolytes and choke down a saltine cracker or two (if I’m gonna continue to puke I’d like something I’m not really fond of to come up).
I lay on my spread of Tyvex and Zrest pad staring at the sky as it drizzles upon my ashen face. The day use visitors to Subway Cave avoid me like the plague that I am. Needless to say, I am not a happy camper. Donna picks me up just after mid day. My phone is practically dead (down to 4% charge) when she arrives. By now movement inside my body has quieted. I feel fairly confident Donna’s car is safe. We take a run into Burney for some lunch for Donna at the Safeway and some ginger ale and peppermint tea for me. Donna is a consummate “smart ass” and the jokes where Paul left off continue. I love my friends. Once shopping is done we head into Burney Falls State Park, where Donna used to work and has reserved a cabin for us. What I don’t know and/or realize is that I will have no cell service. Prior to getting to the park, I get a text from Paul to go to the look out at mile 1384 off Hwy 44. We make the detour to see what Paul is texting about. I get out and take a couple of pictures but can’t even remotely appreciate the view. Back in the car and to the cabin we go. Paul now texts, “just got a root beer float”. Darn, I reply. However by this time I am apparently without cell service. When we get to the cabin I immediately crash on the uncomfortable futon bed and sleep in the stifling heat till nearly dark. I awake and sip on ginger ale, while reclined on the short couch I have migrated to and ” help” Donna remove at least 5 lbs of “essentials” she doesn’t need…then back to sleep…drooling on the futon.
All right! I finally get a chance to write about what’s really going on. I leave 1Speed at Subway Cave not feeling well, but there are miles to hike. She has the phone and I have the Delorme Inreach so we can communicate. I won’t have the GPS so I have to rely on maps. Today is a long stretch that is mostly flat, shadeless, and will be hot. The morning is overcast and muggy. 1Speed almost always leads and we travel at her speed. It’s strange hiking at my speed and I’m not sure how fast I’ll be able to go. This stretch is also water less for the first 17 miles so I’m carrying three liters of water.
After a short 2 mile climb the trail flattened out on top of a mesa area which had been logged years ago. I can see Mt. Lassen in the distance on my left with very little snow. After 5 1/2 hours I reach the the water cache at mile 1498. Located in some tall pine trees with plastic chairs is about 50 – 1 gallon bottles of water. I refilled my water bottles and relax. Below is a road and I heard a man yell to me to come down and get a “milkshake “. I acknowledge I’m interested and on my way. As I was lifting my pack I couldn’t help but think this is weird, or a mean trick. Where the trail met the dirt road, a camper was parked along side the road. I met a smiling, happy, older man in a skirt. ” Hi my name is Coppertone”. We fist bump, which is hiker style of handshaking so not to pass on germs. I tell him I’m “Just Paul”. He laughs, which is the normal reaction to my trail name. What?? I explain that I’m also 2moremiles and that 1speed is down with what we think is Giardia. He tells me he has been traveling the trail and hikers the past 200 miles have left the trail sick with Giardia. He makes me a root beer float, which is refreshing beyond belief. In my head I’m doing the math – miles divided by hours and think I can make it to Burney 17 more miles. A quick goodbye to Coppertone and I’m racing down the trail. 10 miles later I break to text 1Speed. Its only 4: 30 I’m tired but have enough left to do the remaining 7 miles. Most of the remaining trail is flat or down hill. As I approach the highway I’ve yet to hear from 1Speed and begin to think of plan “B”. Hungry, thirsty, and tired I try one last time to make contact but no success. I decided to hitch to Burney and catch a ride after about ten minutes. Mike, a local from Burney takes me to the local pizza restaurant. Now when hiker hunger takes over you can’t quick enough or get enough to eat. I order a large pizza, pitcher of beer, one plate and one glass. The young girl behind the counter stood motionless staring at me like ” really ?” I paid the bill and sat at my table with my #12 boldly displayed on the table. She delivered the pizza and beer together and I inhaled it all in record time. After a 35 mile day this wasn’t hard to do. Just for affect, I placed the empty pizza pan and pitcher on the counter and wished the young girl a good night. She stood dumb found, expressionless and made no comment. Still no 1Speed, and now to find a hotel and sleep.