Day 16– July 19, 2014
Odometer Reading: 162.4 miles
Miles today: 10.4
Camped: Middle Fork of the King’s River near La Conte Canyon – elevation 8,921
Today’s Key to Success: Continuous Forward Movements
Aidan wasn’t getting up. I felt cold and a little clammy, but not feverish. I figured I felt pretty good, considering.
Aidan finally woke up, bleary with a bad headache. He started feeling worse pretty quickly. It was 8:07 am. He was already having more diarrhea. We were out of toilet paper except a few squares. We had some antiseptic wipes and if need be, I decided I was willing to sacrifice my neck scarf and a pair of underwear. Get.us.out.of.here.
I was daydreaming about getting to a hospital. Certainly never experienced that before.
Neither of us could eat breakfast. We made the first two miles in an hour, but then Aidan needed to rest for almost a full hour before he could go on. The Gatorade powder was almost gone. He’d taken two Imodium AD pills, but they hadn’t kicked in yet. I hoped they’d start helping soon.
His face was grey.
It was noon.
We made it off the terrible Golden Staircase. We ran into our old friends Ben, Judy, and Sarah. They gave us some more Tums and Pepto Bismol tablets and wished us well. They were our favorite people out here. We’d miss the sunshine and happiness they carried with them. Right before they left us by the trail, they remarked that if it was easy to get out, they’d go too. They felt done with the trip. They were over it. We stopped in an old campsite. It was cloudy and started to rain a little. We made ourselves small and tucked up underneath a tree to wait it out.
I pointed at a used cardboard tampon holder near Aidan. “I don’t even care anymore,” he said, “We couldn’t possibly be more disgusting at this point.” I sat next to him, kicked away the tampon holder, held his hand. He handed me a Tums and a Pepto Bismol.
Aidan stared into the distance, his eyes glossy with fever. “I’ve never been so filthy in my life. Nothin’ like having diarrhea in the wilderness. Sweat and shit and vomit and food and sunscreen and DEET and blood and pee and bug carcasses. I am so vile. I need to be decontaminated, not just cleaned.”
And then it started to rain harder.
A couple pulled up a patch of dry ground under a neighboring tree. They sat down and introduced themselves. The guy launched into stories about how much fun they were having. The girl put her face in her hands and leaned on her knees, completely checked out for a full ten minutes. He sat cross-legged and talked about how they went to VVR and his girlfriend wanted to get a bed and a shower. “But that’s the kiss of death,” he said, “Once you sleep in a bed, you don’t ever want to go back to your tent.” He said he wouldn’t let her get a bed. He grinned. She ran her fingers through her dirty blond hair and gave him a sideways look. If looks could kill. The only thing she said the entire time was, “I’m sick of this. I’d bail right now too if I could.”
We wondered if she would wait all the way until the end of the trip before she broke up with him. It looked inevitable. She was clearly miserable. We bet the trip had been completely his idea. “It will be fun,” we imagined him telling her, “Pure fun.” Now she hated him.
Did everyone on the JMT want to be done at this point?
We moved down the trail. Aidan was weak, but walking, so that was something. His clothes were hanging on him, suddenly way too big.
“How’s your poo lookin’,” Aidan asked as he threw cheese vomit cookie crumbs in the river.
“Not awesome. Milkshake quality.” We watched fish scarf the cookie crumbs and dash back to the safety of the bank. We lay down in the grass and slept, holding hands, our heads on Aidan’s pack. We woke up when a humming bird dive-bombed us.
We hiked on again and stopped pretty soon after. Aidan was asleep within one minute of taking off his pack. I let him sleep for half an hour. When I woke him up, Aidan pointed out that there was no way we would make it to Bishop tomorrow anyway, so we should just camp.
“Can you walk another 30 minutes?” I asked him. Sure, he said. I got this.
Ten minutes later, I almost vomited and had to sit down quite suddenly. “My stubborn wife,” Aidan grumbled. I apologized for forcing more miles, and for my inability to show compassion. He graciously accepted my apology.
Well, no one could say I was lazy, that’s for sure. He pointed to the left, declaring a good place to camp was just over there. I followed, as usual. It magically appeared, all perfect and sprawling and beautiful. We treated our water. “No sense making any of this worse.”
Aidan rinsed our clothes to make us more presentable for town and the hospital.
I realized I had some tiny facial cloth wipies, so we decided to use them for toilet paper tomorrow. I thought between those, the few squares of actual toilet paper we had left, and some anti-bacterial wipes not-meant-to-be-used-as-toilet-paper, we should be able to get to town without sacrificing gear.
Tomorrow we’d get over Bishop Pass if we could. The morning after that, Aidan wouldn’t take any Imodium AD and we’d see what happened. When he had diarrhea, we’d collect his stool sample in a Ziploc bag to take to the hospital so it could be tested. We’d hitch a ride from the trail head. Or maybe get a taxi if we needed to. We’d get a hotel room and a shower (or three), and go to the hospital. I doubted I’d need to be checked out. I was sick, but nothing like what he was going through. Then we would get a bus to Tuolumne Meadows to retrieve the truck and get back to my parents’ house to retrieve the animals, and then go home. If I was still sick by the time we managed to get home, I’d go to a regular doctor and tell them what happened.
Me: “Hospitals are expensive. You should be the only one to go.”
Aidan: “If we’re both sick, we both go.”
Me: “Too much money.”
Aidan, through his delirium: “You pay, you play! I mean, you play, you pay!”
Me: “Works both ways I guess…ever been to an arcade?”
We were in bed by 7pm, and glad for it. The skin on my belly was hot to the touch, but my head had no indication of a fever. We took precautionary Vitamin I before going to bed. We hoped to sleep through any potential fever.
I watched the bugs bounce around between the tent top and the rain fly. I felt certain they were saying, ‘How did we get here? How do we get out?’ I felt their pain. My sentiments exactly.
We slipped into a troubled sleep.