Monday, August 10, 2015

Day 62: Sick Hikers and Spy Rock

May 8: I woke up early and hit the trail. There was a long climb at the beginning of the day, but it's wasn't particularly steep--just long. The rest of the day, the trail had just mild up and downs. I was happy with that!

What I wasn't happy with were the tiny little black flies that flitted about all day long, and they were driving me (and everyone else on the trail!) crazy. I had a headnet, but I didn't like using that while I was hiking. It was more difficult to breathe and felt hot to wear, so I hiked without it on, but I would use it when I stopped to rest.

Additionally, I did skip the Cow Camp Gap Shelter, which might not sound like a big deal but there were very few shelters I had missed visiting on the trail, and this would be my fourth miss. It was 0.6 miles off trail and appeared to be down a steep hill and I just didn't want to do it. A long walk down a steep hill. Nope, I didn't do it and thus missed my fourth shelter of the trail. I got no photos, I signed no register.

Another shelter late in the day I only stopped at very briefly. As I approached the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter, I caught Proudfoot coming out like he was on fire! He gave me the scoop--that there were two sick hikers in the shelter and he didn't want any part of that. They claimed that they got sick from drinking bad water and therefore were not contagious, but Proudfoot wasn't going to take any chances. Nope, he was getting the hell out of there, and I didn't blame him in the least.

I continued onwards to the shelter despite the warning--it was too close for me not to get a photo of it and sign the register (then immediately douse my hands with the hand sanitizer I carried). The two hikers were wrapped up in the their sleeping bags on the side of the shelter. I was surprised to see them in their sleeping bags at all--it was quite warm outside and I figured whatever made them sick had given them the chills.

The two hikers were Arch and Gangrene, and it just infuriated me seeing them laying around in the shelter like that. I didn't believe for a second they got sick from contaminated water. Heck, I've been drinking untreated water the entire hike and hadn't gotten sick yet. And with other hikers recently being taken down by the norovirus, if I was a betting man, that's what I'd put my bets on. Which is highly contagious and those two were probably single-handedly responsible for getting every person who spent the night in that shelter for the next week sick.

They'd taken a zero day in the shelter and assured everyone that they felt a lot better today. (You're still contagious, dumb-asses!) Another knock against their theory of it being bad water: Giardia won't have you feeling better after just a day.

But even still, giardia is contagious as well. You don't have to drink bad water to get giardia--you just have to hang out with someone who already has it.

I signed into the register well outside of the shelter to keep my distance, but thinking about them in the shelter just made me more and more mad. How hard would it have been for them to set up a tent and get into it? Even if they weren't contagious (which I highly doubted), sharing a shelter with two sick hikers is not something that other hikers are going to feel comfortable about. Get the hell out! It was way too late to do anything about it now, but it really peeved me.

As for my part, I definitely had no intention of sticking around. I quickly signed the register, rinsed my hands with hand sanitizer, and left. I warned all of the southbound hikers I met the rest of the afternoon not to camp at or near the shelter due to the sick hikers, but that was about all I could do.

I finished the day's hike at Spy Rock with a rather early 3:00 finish. Despite my quitting so early in the day, I had still managed to pull out over 18 miles of hiking which goes to show how easy the trail was today! I'd been set on camping at Spy Rock since I started the trail--I had fond memories of spending the night here during my first thru-hike. Great views and wonderful campsites.

Upon arriving, I dropped my backpack and scrambled up Spy Rock itself to admire the view before coming back down and setting up camp. I cooked dinner, read for a bit and killed time before scrambling back up Spy Rock to watch the sunset with a few thru-hikers (hello, Little Red and Chuckles!) and weekend backpackers.

Just before we descended, one of the weekend backpackers told us that they followed a trail around the back of the rock and just walked up easily--no scrambling at all. Little Red, Chuckles and I decided to find that route back down to the campsites. I scouted out ahead at times while Little Red and Chuckles hung back to watch my progress and eventually I lost the trail completely.

Little Red and Chuckles, wisely, stopped following me at that point. They said later that they could hear me through all of the brush I was bushwhacking through, however. =)

But I was determined to keep going forward. No turning back! I followed a steep rock downhill, wearing my Crocs which turned out not to be very suitable for bushwhacking. My biggest concern, however, wasn't my footwear. It was getting deep under the forest canopy without a headlamp. I hadn't brought it with me because I figured I was just a quick scramble down to camp which I could do easily even after the sun had set. It was exposed the whole day, but the direction I now followed turned quite dark under the forest canopy limiting my visibility greatly.

I had picked up some wood when I first entered the forested area to add to the campfire later, but eventually I dropped them as well. I needed to focus on survival and just getting back to camp! Dragging around a bunch of dead wood was just getting in my way.

Well, okay, I wasn't too worried about "survival" per se, but I had gotten myself in deeper than I had expected. The steep hills were difficult to walk on. My sense of direction was impeccable, though. I knew I had to get down to the level of the campsite, then wrap around the base of Spy Rock to the other side. If I came out too low, I'd have to hike up the slope a bit to get back to camp. It was just getting difficult to see in the quickly fading darkness.

But I made it, arriving at the same time that Chuckles and Little Red did from the trail I had lost. (The weekender who told us about the trail led them out!) I came out a bit low at first and could see the campsites higher up and hill, but as soon as the campsites came into view, I started picking up wood for the fire again and walked in with that. I was going to enjoy someone's campfire, darn it, and this was my bribe! =)

The only other noteworthy aspect of the day.... my pedometer had recorded my two millionth step since I had started my hike today. Two million steps--woo-who!

I swear, we probably saw a hundred of these things every day through Virginia!

My pedometer only records up to 999,999 steps, so I have to reset it to 0 after every million steps. It took me 28 days to get from one million steps to two million steps!

View when I first arrived at Spy Rock.

Watching the sun set from Spy Rock.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Congrats on your 2 millionth step Ryan! I would have been so upset at those sick hikers too. You were probably nicer than I would have been though.