The morning dawned somewhat dewily on the tents.
I got up and got mom some coffee back in the tent and organized our stuff out of the bear bag (actually more accurately named “the mouse bag” as it was to keep the rodentia out.) and moved the rainfly off to a sunny patch to let it dry.
I tried to eat a Larabar (normally my favorite thing) and had to quit halfway through it since swallowing brought tears to my eyes. I put it away for later.
The lead guide came over to talk to me this morning about me being sick.
She was concerned that on the day we crossed Wilburn Ridge that my being seriously slow could be a problem if weather got bad. Exposure out on the ridge if there was lightning was a seriously dangerous prospect. People have died… and neither she nor I wanted that.
I understood her point of view. The danger was real, my cold was potentially going to get worse and she needed to know if she needed to get me out.
I told her that I would go and go and go. I wouldn’t stop, I wouldn’t be as fast as everyone, and realistically I couldn’t promise any speed increases, but I wouldn’t ever stop or give up or whine about it. I also told her that despite all that, if she thought I might put someone in danger that she should tell me. I wasn’t about to ask anyone to get hurt on my account.
We decided that we’d see how I did that day (it was a shorter day) and that there were still places for me to hike out that weren’t exposed in front of us if worse came to worse.
Needless to say I felt even more horrible after this talk.
What if I were ruining everyone’s trip-especially mom’s? I know how much she looked forward to this (I had, too.)? What if I became that problem child that no one ever wants to deal with? The guilt of yesterday hit harder, my cold wasn’t better, I felt worse everyday, and now, I was a problem.
I also knew that my mom was concerned. She blames everything on me being overweight (middle east strife, global warming, etc.) but I’ve always been awful on uphill stuff even when I was in somewhat reasonable shape, so while me losing weight wouldn’t be a bad thing, it most likely wouldn’t make me any faster slogging up a hill.
The good news was, Tricky, the lead guide wanted me to continue (as did I) and was pretty positive about me doing it. I didn’t think she’d lost faith in me yet. (and there was no way I would be the one who said quit. They really would have to kick me out bodily. I’m stubborn as hell, yo.)
We packed up after gathering in a circle to do stretches all around and moved off to the area near Wise Shelter.
Tricky and Almanac switched duty each day for lead/sweep. So today, I had custody of Tricky. It was kind of nice to be able to have the guide all to myself (even if I wasn’t able to hold up my side of the conversation as well due to breathing.)
While I was making the climb of the first hill, she gave me some pointers about tackling hills and general trekking pole usage (I was getting the hang of them, but I was still learning, so pointers were much appreciated).
Basically, I needed to slow down and conserve my puny resources. So I started to retrain myself on my pace.
Mr. Potato Head is pretty ingrained and muscle memory is not an easy thing to redo, so I spent the day working up new walking song… or rather, a walking uphill song.
I ended up with a mishmash of imagery.
The accompanying sound is a combo of a drastically slowed down baby elephant song that sounds like a foghorn.
Repeat ad nauseum.
But, by the next hill, I only stopped once to drink, because regardless of whether I can still breathe while going uphill, I’m still a klutz and will fall down if I try to drink from my camelbak tube, use trekking poles and walk at the same time.
Let’s be realistic here. Some things you can’t solve with PEANUT.
At times, I was even in front of mom. (To be fair, she was stopping every 5 seconds to Hoover up the wild strawberries along the trail. I’d give her even odds with a hungry black bear duking it out for the strawberries. I can’t win here.)
It became even more clear to me that breaks were irritating. I’d show up at the group break about 5 minutes after they flopped down (drastic improvement here, folks-still with the snot and the cold and the cramps, that was persistent) and not want to stop.
Still not hungry, though. I’d watch them eat and I’d drink some water and take pictures then we’d go.
Granted, this was an absolutely easy day on rolling trail, but I kept up, I didn’t stop and I made it to camp right about the time everyone else did.
We set up camp just north of Wise Shelter (oh yeah, did I mention we were hiking North to South? No? Oh, well now you know.). The meadow was surrounded by rhododendrons, there was a river running just north of us (that we crossed over on a very cool bridge on the way there), took advantage of the privy and mom and I sat down in the tent for a bit.
Well, she sat for a bit. I passed out and woke up about 2 hours later when I got cold.
I had a fever at that point, even I could feel it, so I took out the sleeping pads and bags and went back to sleep.
I have two pictures of this part of the day… one of the alien from inside the tent and the other one of the roof of the tent. There is evidence of me walking around, but I was generally as elusive as Sasquatch.
I could hear all the fun going on all around me, and I sort of enjoyed the half day vicariously listening to everyone talk about the snake they saw at the river, mom coercing Sassy into finding firewood for a fire, Almanac starting dinner and the following gem of a conversation.
(Rustle, rustle, rustle)
Miscellaneous people: What’s that rustling? Is that a bear?!
Almanac (in mom voice): Who’s there!
Sassy: Its just me, Angela. (she was in the bushes looking for firewood)
Teabag: Oh, all bears say that!
And forever more, all bears are named Angela.
Then, additionally, Sassy flushed a couple of robin babies.
One looked sort of like a 20 year old boy refusing to leave home (effectively ready to go, but not yet kicked out) and the other one had the crazy baby robin feathers and not quite ready for prime time.
Mom:Its a fledgling.
[I couldn’t ID the voice]: looks like a baby.
Mom: its a fledgling.
[I couldn’t ID the voice]: a what?
(I could hear the “whatever” in the silence.)
I emerged briefly for dinner, and while it tasted fine, it was black beans and rice, and my throat was seriously trying to kill me for eating this. I barely managed to swallow the little I had and keep it down. That was an unpleasant meal. I wanted more of the chicken soup.
I took more drugs and went back into the tent.
After they started a fire (I could hear mom grousing about being talked out of packing marshmallows – “But they are light!” she grumped.) and a game with the group of “2 truths and a lie” I went to sleep.
There had been a brief discussion about my continuing the next day and we decided to to let the weather decide. I had reiterated that I wasn’t quitting, and that short of a thunderstorm, I would go until they told me I couldn’t. There was one last place I could hike out at Massie Gap and we’d see how that went.
Jeebus what a horrible night.
I dreamed that they kicked me out, I dreamed that they magically found a horse trail that I was able to skirt the ridge, I was half mourning Rhododendron Gap that I had built up in my head as a magical fairy place (must have been all the drugs, I’m not usually sentimental over bushes.)…
I’m sure that this was brought on by the sudafed/tylenol cocktail that I had been pushing trying to make myself somewhat less comatose, but the sentiment remained.
And then it started to rain.
“(oh yeah, did I mention we were hiking North to South? No? Oh, well now you know.)”
Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire…