Monday, February 10, 2020

Day 46: Evacuate! Evacuate!

August 30: At 2:30 in the morning, it started to sprinkle. Shirtless had told me the day before that he heard it might rain in nearby Manning Park overnight, but it was so beautiful when I went to sleep and the weather had been so nice lately, I didn't really believe it. So I didn't bother to set up my tarp and cowboy camped instead.

Now, I was frantically trying to get my tarp up before things got too wet. At least I had the foresight to select a location where it would be relatively quick and easy to set up the tarp without moving any of my stuff. I had strategically picked a location where I could hook my tarp up to nearby trees in the "unlikely" chance that it did rain. I was really glad I did that!

But then I had to pee. Bad! Before I could even finish setting up my tarp. Once I got out of my sleeping bag, I had to go! I tried to hold it, desperately getting my tarp up in the rain but I knew I wasn't going to make it. I finally abandoned the tarp and pull down my pants to pee. I wanted to pull them all the way down in case some unexpected poop came along with it.

Fortunately, no poop came with it, but I wasn't quite fast enough getting my pants down and wound up peeing myself a tiny bit. #$#@*(! It could have been a lot worse, though.

I finished setting up the tarp which was low and saggy. It was a bad job of it, but it was doing its job of keeping me dry so I didn't fuss with it any further.

I set out my bowl to catch water dripping off the tarp. I had hoped to reach a water source before camp but had failed so I was a little low on water. At least I could fill up with free water from the sky. It sprinkled almost non-stop through 7:00am, but it was never more than a light sprinkle and after all those hours, all I got was a single sip of water for my efforts.

For breakfast, I ate five Jelly Bellies. It was all I could stomach. My utter lack of hunger continued. I had to be losing a horrendous amount of weight. I normally ate 2.5 pounds of food per day and this was now my fourth day of eating almost nothing. I didn't feel like I had lost weight, but I'm sure I was losing it faster than I ever had in my life. I was essentially on a starvation diet and burning 5000+ calories a day hiking 15-20 miles each day since getting sick.

I was glad that the rain stopped before I had to start hiking for the day, but I did have to hike through a lot of fog. Some of it was pretty, in the swirling clouds in the distance, but other times it obscured my views which I found annoying. I wanted to see all of the dramatic scenery around me!

A couple of hours into the day's hike, the fog finally lifted and the sky cleared up again.

Late in the morning, I reached Holman's Pass. This is where the PCT and PNT split ways. The PCT continues south toward Harts Pass while the PNT continues west toward Ross Lake. I wanted to go to Ross Lake. I could hop off the trail and back on so easily--except for the fact that it was further away than Harts Pass. I needed help. I was terribly weak, getting weaker with each passing day, and at least there were people nearby to help if I stayed on the PCT.

I decided that I needed to go to Harts Pass, and I sat down and cried when I saw the sign saying it was 14 miles away. I'd have to hike 14 miles OFF TRAIL to get there. And I'd have to hike another 14 miles OFF TRAIL to get back later. But my health and safety needed to come first. But still, I cried. I didn't want to do it.

One nice thing about veering off the PNT, however, was that I didn't feel the need to keep taking photos all of the time. I typically take 200 photos per day so I can add the route to Walking 4 Fun, but now that I was veering off the PNT, I didn't need photos. And they were a pain in the ass to take. Especially now when I really didn't feel like "working." It felt liberating to be able to hike without feeling obligated to take photos every step of the way.

I started asking hikers I passed if they had a topo map I could take a photo of. My maps were for the PNT and I was now off the PNT. I had no idea where to find water or campsites along the trail. I had no idea what sort of hills and mountains were in my way. I had no maps for the PCT. But nobody had paper maps anymore. Everyone had their digital devices and I had to ask about 15 people before a friendly, older gentleman had one. He opened it up and I took a photo of it with my camera. At least I had some idea of what was coming now. I was a little sad that more people didn't carry topo maps. I love topo maps. Sure, I also carried a GPS and a cell phone, but I still preferred using my topo maps, but I guess I'm officially old-fashioned. When did that happen? Back when I did my PCT thru-hike in 2010, most people still carried topo maps. It was amazing how much had changed in the last nine years.

In the afternoon, I ran into a group of three hikers who, after hearing about my sickness, one of them offered me some pot. It was a little tempting... I've heard it can help with people's appetites (the infamous "munchies") and I could certainly use some help with that but I turned him down. One, I wasn't even really sure how to smoke it--it's a skill I never bothered to learn--but more importantly, it seemed like a bad idea to get high for the first time in my current condition.

For lunch, I ate another five Jelly Bellies.

While climbing up a hillside, a ranger on horseback with a mule train caught up with me. They were packing out gear from the PNT work crew who had left earlier in the morning. I told him about my problems and he asked if he could help. I kind of wanted him to carry my pack--he had a horse to do it! But I didn't think I could make it to the trailhead this afternoon and needed to keep my pack with me. He continued onward but said he'd tell the ranger at Harts Pass to look out for me.

Late in the afternoon, I really needed to pee. It was a very exposed location above treeline, and although I didn't feel a particularly strong need to poop, that was no guarantee it wouldn't happen. I couldn't hold the pee anymore, though, and there was nowhere to go off trail that would leave me with some privacy, so I went off the side of the trail. I hoped and prayed nothing else but pee would come out and--whew!--dodged a bullet. About two minutes after I zipped up, a group of several thru-hikers rounded the corner. If diarrhea had struck, they would walked into an uncomfortable situation--uncomfortable for everyone involved! It was a close call.

I finally stopped hiking at 5:30pm after 15.3 miles and about four miles short of Harts Pass and help. I wanted to get off the trail today, but I was just too tired. I couldn't keep going. I threw out my groundsheet and laid down to rest for a bit. I had been laying there for what felt like 5 or 10 minutes when I realized how low the sun was getting in the sky. It seemed awfully early in the day for the sun to already be setting and I looked at the time and was shocked that it was already 7:00pm! I had fallen asleep for 1.5 hours and had no idea! I thought I'd just been laying on my groundsheet resting for a mere 5 or 10 minutes and was awake the whole time.

Now that sunset was imminent, I quickly changed into my camp clothes and got into my sleeping bag. A couple of thru-hikers set up camp about a hundred yards away but never dropped by to introduce themselves, and I certainly had no intention of getting up to walk over to them.

For dinner, I ate five more Jelly Bellies and a beef stick. That was a big meal by my current standards! So for the entire day, the only thing I had eaten were a total of 15 Jelly Bellies and a small, thin beef stick. Ugh. I needed to get off this trail. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.... I was only about 4 miles from help.

I pretty much stopped taking photos once I reached Holman Pass. At this point, the PNT veered off the PCT, and I decided to follow the PCT to Harts Pass and get off the trail, and for Walking 4 Fun, I didn't need photos along the PCT. So... there are pretty much no photos after this trail junction.
Except for a photo of a topo map that an older gentleman on the trail let me take since I didn't have any maps of the PCT to Harts Pass.


Karolina said...

Poor you!

KuKu said...

With the blowdowns, bushwacking and now this, the trail really kicked your butt -- literally!!

Hope you feel better soon.

Arlene (EverReady AT 2015) said...

Do you filter your water? It is amazing you were able to hike so many days without eating!

Ryan said...

I sometimes treat my water depending on the trail and location, but on this trail... no, I did not treat the water.

-- Ryan