8/4: 6.6 miles (2210.5 – 2217.1)
Morning found the moon still high in the sky. We had a leisurely breakfast with ERL and then departed in opposite directions, wishing each other well.
Today’s path was pretty straight forward, and required no route finding, or even attention to ones footing, for the most part. Follow the ribbon of dirt road over hill and dale, under a clear blue sky, with absolutely NO shade was the plan. A slight breeze cooled our sweat as we walked. Paul was motivated to put the “pedal to the metal”. I, on the other hand was devoid of any energy, much less motivation. Try as I might, I just couldn’t shift out of first gear. It was as if my “e-brake” was still engaged.
This morning found my stomach extremely rumbly. Last night, I could barely choke down dinner. For the past two weeks I have suffered bouts of nausea and extreme, unexplained fatigue. My chest palpitations have become more frequent. Something feels just “off”. While we are religious in the filtering of our water, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I may have giardia…again. (See PCT 2014 post here.) However, all the tell tale symptoms had not fully reared their head. And, considering how focused Paul is with making sure I am properly hydrated, I don’t think dehydration or heat exhaustion is the case. My body is definitely having an internal battle with something, of what, I haven’t a clue.
Two miles into our morning, I found myself plopped down on the edge of the trail unable to take another step. I had already nearly shit myself and was belching continually with waves of nausea doubling me over into the “ready position”. Paul was highly annoyed and doubled back to see what was keeping me. I rallied for another mile until I became overcome with an unrelenting bout of vomiting that rendered me completely spent. It was if I had run a marathon AND done a million crunches, while pulling a wagon full of rocks…uphill. I was that exhausted. Sipping water to rehydrate resulted in its immediate expulsion. Eventually I shed my pack and curled up in the dirt, in the fetal position. Paul, not sure of what to do to help, opened his umbrella, spread out our ground cover and unfurled my sit pad. I expected, after having expelled the contents of my stomach and bowels, that I would very soon begin to feel better. I racked my brain as to how/why I was sick. I recalled that last night’s meal had lost its vacuum seal and didn’t taste as good as I last remembered. Maybe it was food poisoning. That would be way better than giardia. An hour passed. I still could not move. Paul erected our tent, to at least get me/us out of the searing sun. Another hour passed. Still no signs of improvement. By the forth hour, I was able to begin to sip and keep down water. My head did not feel like it was going to explode and the muscles in my stomach and back began to release.
I knew that at some point we had to get moving. We were nearly out of water. If I couldn’t rally and make it to the spring less than 4 miles away, Paul was going to have to head off on his own and return with water. We still had several hours of daylight left, and I was beginning to feel somewhat human again. Another hour later, I decided that I had to move forward somehow, or some way. Besides, we barely had two days of food left, and come hell or highwater, I was NOT going to push the SOS button because I was sick. I, We, could go without food for a few days, but not water, in my current state.
With all the energy I could muster, we packed up and I began my trudge to the spring. I found myself moving about as fast as I had in the morning, but without the waves of nausea. This was a good sign. Maybe the “innards invaders” had been excised.
I told Paul to continue to the spring, and that I would catch up…eventually. He, however, did not let me out of his sight. We made it to the spring with at least three more good hours of daylight remaining. At this point I was feeling “okay” enough to continue another few more miles. In order to do that, Paul insisted that I eat something…and keep it down. While Paul went to fetch water, a tenth of a mile or so off trail, I waited by the post, that marked the turn off to the spring and did my best to choke down the blandest thing in my food bag. A high calorie, chalky, protein bar.
When Paul returned with the water, we had one of two choices. 1. Continue on for another 4-5 miles, so that tomorrow would be a 10 mile hike to Bannock Pass and a ride into Leadore, or 2. Make camp here and see how far we could get tomorrow. At least to the next reliable water source (per ERL), 10 miles away. Menacing skies with thunderous intent and the unexpected expulsion of my protein bar, sealed the deal. We would make camp here.
The fact that I couldn’t keep anything down, gave Paul at least an additional days worth of food. So we had that going for us, if no miles could be made the following day.
No sooner had we (Paul) erected our tent, but the skies opened up and it began to rain ferociously.