Believe it or not, it’s actually difficult for me to write romantically about things I’m currently experiencing. This is probably why for the most part I’ve only written about my pain and frustrations on the trail. I haven’t had a lot of time or mental space to have romantic thoughts about the trail; pain tends to take that luxury away from you. Some parts of the day are like a vacation, sitting in the shade eating a snack, watching the colors of the hills shift as the day rolls on. Other parts are punishment, like marching across the desert under the whip of your slave master. Sometimes I make myself deals. If I can make it to X mile today, I get a really good dinner. If I don’t, I have to eat the food I’ve been leaving at the bottom of my back as if I don’t have it.
Yesterday we hiked 17 miles, from mile 201 to 218. Add in a few side trips and we probably did more like 18 miles. This seems to be our limit right now. But hey, I’ve hiked over 200 miles! I should be pretty proud, right?
Nope, that’s another luxury that pain strips from you. I feel nothing but misery. Around mile 12 yesterday, in the hot desert sun, I had an asthma attack. Not a huge one, I actually managed to get my breathing under control by the time I found my inhaler. But it really set me back for the rest of the day.
Ever since our series of zero days in Idyllwild I’ve been easily exhausted. Before I could hike uphill no problem, only stopping to catch my breath occasionally. Now I get winded just going a few feet uphill, even without my pack! Briefly I thought that maybe it was from my Nalgene and drinking hose, which I discovered to be growing mold (I’ve since discarded the tube and sent the Nalgene home), but now I think it’s simple a food issue.
Haven’t been eating much because I haven’t been hungry. But the truth is, I haven’t been eating because I don’t like my food. I can only force myself to eat so much before I literally gag on it. I was trying to eat a snickerdoodle last night on our way into Whitewater Preserve and it became gummy and glue-like on my mouth. I couldn’t swallow it. Chronic dry mouth aside, the sweets and the breads are not doing it for me. I had to stop myself from eating all my Chex-Mix in one day and when I came across some Trail Magic with baggies of Cheezits, I ended up swapping some of my cookies for extra bags. I want the salty and the savory stuff!! Just insert it into my veins!!!!
I managed to yogi some couscous (Moroccan flavor!), ramen, and Idahoans from another hiker that was carrying too much. Hopefully these get me through the next three days to Big Bear (by the way, turns out the bacon in Idahoans are vegetarian friendly. Score!)
The next town has a proper grocery store. I hope to find lots of food I can actually keep down and pack extra.
I guess you could say my hiker hunger has hit, but it’s very picky.
And that pickiness could be deadly.
Two days later, and I’m not in much better shape. My exhaustion has turned into nausea, which of course means I eat even less! Everything I eat tastes and feels disgusting, and my stomach fights it. I try filling my stomach with water, and it dislikes that even more. I haven’t thrown up yet, but man do I get close. I can’t even force myself to just get it over with!!
Britney thinks I may be experiencing some kind of dietary deficiency, not so much of a vitamin or mineral, but the shock of my system not getting something that I ate regularly in the front country. The only foods I could think of are fresh vegetables. I ate those close to every day. I seem to be craving cheese and tomato lately. I can easily inhale salty ramen as per the usual (although I don’t use the packets, msg gives me migraines as far as I can tell). So what’s the deal?
I’ve been concern that maybe I picked up norovirus, which is apparently rampant on this part of the trail… but I haven’t had all the symptoms of that. Altitude sickness?
I think I’ve been running a fever as well, since I’m sweating myself out of my sleeping bag every night, but still freezing.
Over three days I only managed to hike 27 miles. We’ve been delayed and the extra time has eaten into our food stores. So now not only am I unable to eat, but Evan and Britney are running low on their own food. Not good. This was only supposed to be a 6 day hike from Idyllwild to Big Bear, and that was cutting it close.
On day 5 of Idyllwild, still 20 miles out from town, we made the executive decision for me to jump off trail and into town while Evan and Britney hike the rest of the way.
Let’s be real. I’m slowing them down. They can go so much faster than I’m letting them.
So I managed to get a lift from a day hiker named Larry. Evan collected my food and we parted ways. While he’ll be with Britney, it’ll be his first time alone on the trail.
He’ll be alright.
Meanwhile, I’ll be resting in town, eating as much food as I can keep down, and figuring out what I CAN stomach on the trail.
If only there were a cat rental service. Between you and me, I think I’m deficient of vitamin C.
Vitamin cat :’c
Update: After 4 days in town and a visit to the clinic, the docs think I’ve been dehydrated and/or dealing with something viral. If I’m not feeling better but Friday it’s recommended that I return for blood work. It’s Thursday night now, and I’m hoping that’s not the case. Hotels are expensive, town food is expensive, and I’m bored. I feel almost better again, but I think we’re going to stay here one more day just to be sure.
I checked my credit card statement the other day. I shouldn’t have.
On the bright side, Big Bear Lake is a nice town and tbh if we dropped our packs and got jobs here I don’t think I’d be upset.
But I’m joking, of course.