Day 47: 1,950 ft ascent, 8.6 miles
The Mountain Harbor breakfast lived up to the billing! There were maybe 30 hikers eating that morning and there was plenty for all. From strawberry danishes to egg soufflé to French toast with local honey, there were more dishes to try than I had room on my plate!
I had a former coworker (is it former if you quit but plan to go back?) who worked with me remotely and lives in the area reach out and offer help if we needed it. I knew resupply options were limited in the area, both with access to get there and variety of foods available. We placed a Walmart pickup order and he kindly delivered it to us at the hostel along with some fresh coffee!
We had a good time telling him stories from the trail outside of the hostel while we unboxed all of our food and got our bear bags repacked. It was 70 miles to Damascus where we had planned our next resupply, which we needed to hike in five days if we didn’t want to run out of food.
I had decided I wanted to try to eat more calories, and had a moment of inspiration to do it with butter. Yes, butter straight from the container. I’m not sure where my head was at when I thought this would be a good idea and wouldn’t make a mess. I enjoyed it the first day and buried it back in my pack to stay cool.
Day 48: 600 ft ascent, 2.3 miles
I woke up mentally ready to tackle a big day. We needed to average 15 miles a day for the next four days to make sure our food wouldn’t run out. As I sat up in the tent in the morning I realized I was feeling nauseous. I took it easy getting ready, not liking what that feeling would mean for the rest of the day.
Things didn’t get better as we kept moving. Finally Erik asked if I needed to take a break and lay down and I didn’t argue. I got out my ground pad and heaped myself onto the ground. I started getting really cold (it was probably 65°F) as I laid there and couldn’t warm up even with my hiking shirt, fleece, puffy, and Erik’s coat all on top of me. Erik made me some plain rice that I couldn’t eat more than a few spoonfuls of as I laid there, energy drained. I knew at that point I wasn’t going any further that day.
Erik found a flat spot tucked into the woods and set up our camp while I laid around oblivious to the world. I spent the rest of the day shivering under my 10° quilt in the tent only leaving to puke and question all of my life decisions. Erik wasn’t sick, so we figured I had picked up food poisoning from the breakfast, the butter, or some pepperoni I had eaten at lunch the day before and again for dinner that evening. Everything was ejected from my body that afternoon and evening from every avenue it could.
Day 49: Zero in a Tent
It rained most of the night and I was so sick I didn’t sleep well. When I woke up the nauseous feeling was finally mostly gone, but it had taken all of my energy with it. I tested my stomach with some oatmeal for breakfast, and again with some rice for lunch.
Erik had made the trip down trail to a water source 0.3 miles ahead multiple times while I was out of commission. I went with him around lunch to see how I felt. I wasn’t wearing a pack or carrying anything but I felt like I was running a marathon. My heart rate climbed like I was climbing a mountain when I was going up a gentle grade. I knew I wasn’t in any position to go anywhere that day, so we hunkered down and took a zero in the middle of the woods.
Day 50: 1,080 ft ascent, 5.7 miles
I woke up ready to try getting back on trail. I knew I wasn’t back to ‘normal’, but I was done sitting around in the tent. It should’ve been a really easy day to make some miles with mild grades, but without any energy every gentle uphill had me struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I turned into a zombie, only looking at my feet on the trail in front of me.
We called it quits around 3pm before what would’ve been our biggest climb of the day. I was beat. I was ready to spend the afternoon trying to catch up on my food so I could get back to moving the next day.
As it got into the late afternoon, Erik asked me if I thought it was cold outside. I thought it was a little chillier than it had been the past few days but not cold. A few hours later right before sunset he told me he was feeling slightly nauseous himself. Oh no. Thirty minutes later and Erik’s stomach was ejecting everything like mine had!
Roles now reversed, I helped him prepare for the rough night we knew was ahead. And rough it was. He was up probably a dozen times throughout the night.
I had gotten sick about 36 hours after we left the hostel. Erik got sick about 36 hours after I started showing symptoms. We decided I had most likely picked up Norovirus somewhere at the hostel and then gave it to him. How ‘lucky’ for us to get to experience this particular ‘joy’ of thru-hiking.
Day 51: 1,470 ft ascent, 8.1 miles
When we woke up, we had one goal in mind: make it 8 miles. Erik’s brother lives nearby and had offered to let us recover at his house. We had to get to the next road crossing to meet him though.
I was still out of energy when I woke up, but better than the day before. Erik had been up all night and decided to fast that day to help his stomach recover. I’m not sure how we did it, but we pushed through and made it 8 miles in 8 hours. A slow pace, but progress. I was ready for a shower, bed, and good food to settle my stomach.
Day 52, Day 53: Recovery Zeros
We spent two days recovering with home comforts. The second day we felt better and decided to explore downtown Bristol. We walked by an ice cream parlor and couldn’t resist going in. Next thing we know, we ended up with a flight of ice cream! Probably not the best idea for recovering from a stomach bug, but our (mostly my) hiker hunger got the best of us.
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