Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 23 - The Big "D"! - Part 1

May 18, 2012
Day 23
Miles: 16
Total Miles: 363

Sick, dirty and generally feeling, and smelling, like shit!

This was easily my worst day of the hike so far.  Warning, this journal entry is DESCRIPTIVE and DISGUSTING, so if you are my mother or anyone who would rather not read about these kinds of hard-ships on the trail, please stop here!

Food poisoning at McDonalds yesterday caused diarrhea last night in the middle of the night.  Let me be clear, I shat myself in my sleeping bag last night, and then proceeded to wander into the dark thorny desert to find a spot to relieve the rest of what was dripping involuntarily through my sphincter!  I believe I woke up from the rank odor in my bag, and a warm wet feeling in my shorts, and was therefore spared a full-on soiling of my bag.  It was three in the morning, I had dirty underwear and sleeping bag and wasn't quite sure I could trust myself to sleep while at the same time control this onslaught of diarrhea, so I decided on a plan of action - pack up and hike all morning and get to Wrightwood by lunch so I can check into a room and take care of myself while this passes.  I also wanted to be alone for obvious reasons.  I changed out of my underwear and rolled them up into a tight ball stuffing them into a ziplock bag that I had been using to store food, and simply wore my Patagonia Base Layer during that chilly morning with no boxer-briefs beneath (I only hiked with one pair of underwear).  I quietly packed up the tent and sleeping bag trying desperately not to wake the others camping nearby.  The sleeping bag was stuffed into my pack but only after a futile attempt was made to clean the soiled part with sticks and brush, and started making my way to the base of the morning's climb up 5000 feet of elevation to the Acorn Trail leading down to the town of Wrightwood, about 17 trail miles away.  

I was in a more dangerous situation than I realized, for not only was I sick but I was about to under-take a 5000 foot climb in a dry desert setting while succumbing more and more to dehydration brought on by the diarrhea that had begun yesterday.  My last meal was yesterday's lunch at McDonalds for in my misery and nausea I had skipped last nights dinner.  As I walked I constantly scanned the terrain in an effort to find a place to jump off trail.  When switch-backing up a mountain this can be particularly challenging as more often than not one side of the trail is a rocky slope angling steeply above me and the other side drops off treacherously down the mountain so that there is no level place to hide.  If I did manage to climb up the slope to a tree or large bush, such would be the angle of the hill that squatting down to defacate in a hole while grasping at whatever scratchy and thorny branches were nearby would take extreme concentration and leg strength, that which I did not possess in my state.  I did once manage to make the climb up to such a bush but by the time I reached it, the expelled exertion was so great that the reaction of my body was to speed up the diarrheal urge, so that I barely had time to scratch out a target in the dirt about a half-inch inch deep before pulling down my pants, my chest heaving from the effort, sweat now dripping off my brow, my legs bent and trembling in a squatted position, and completely missing my target.  I loosely covered up what I could with sticks and other plant debri and cautiously slid down the hill to the trail.

In the midst of all this I experienced one of the most beautiful desert sunrises.  The morning sun was just beginning to illuminate the valley fog below me which had rolled in during the night and covered my hiking comrades thousands of feet below me in a cold misty fog.  I was above the weather though and graciously allowed the sun to wash over me as it peaked out from behind the San Gabriels.  I caught some beautiful pictures as the sun came up and also took a picture of myself in the early morning light thinking I needed capture this low point on film, for this blog, to help portray this misery.  The picture captures me looking weak and dirty with a tired hallowed look on my face.  It fails to capture the utter desperation I felt at that time due to the circumstances described above.

Click Here for the continuation of this story.

Beautiful sunrise over the San Gabriel Mountains


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PCT Northern Terminus

PCT Northern Terminus
On September 30, 2012 I reached the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to everybody who supported and followed my journey. It was a life-changing experience!