So it was the morning that I was to set out from Monson to begin Soutbounding for the first time after Northbounding the 100 Mile Wilderness. All I had to do was drive up to Greenville to get a few groceries and some fuel for my stove and I was good to hit the trail. By the time John (my trail angel and at this point good friend) ate breakfast and ran those errands it was practically 11am. I had been saying all morning that as long as I hit the trail by noon I’m good. Because the shelter that I had to hike to was far enough in that I didn’t want to get too late of a start and have to do more than 2 hours of night hiking to get there. I night hike in the morning before sun up and in the evening after sundown every day but more than two hours of it can just drain on you. So there I am at the trailhead all ready to set out. The only thing I had to do was put my merino wool gloves on. Only there was a problem. I couldn’t find the left one. I dumped my entire pack looking for it. It looked like my backpack puked an explosion of gear in his already messy Ford F-150 4 door truck. I was pissed at myself and at the situation. I needed to hit the trail right then basically. Any deviation of this place basically meant I was sticking around another day. We called back to his house and asked Kim to see if she could find the glove. It turns out it fell on the ground in the basement after I pulled my clothes out of the dryer. What an idiot. What am I a rookie? Gear accountability, Marine.
So by the time we get back to his house I am just in a shitty mood. It was too late to make it too my destination at this point. The anxiety I felt as a hiker ready to start the mission, to get on the trail, to put my boots on the ground, to get walking, it was coursing through the boiling blood in my veins. I was ready to hike. I literally felt a pit in my stomach just disappointed in myself that I could have avoided this by doing a more thorough gear check before leaving the house.
But then the freezing rain started and it continued all day. But then something else happened. I started feeling sick to my stomach. I was wondering if the anxiety made that happen? And I don’t really get anxiety often. Or ever really. This is not a common thing for me. But my stomach pain worsened through the day and into the evening. I began to feel nauseous, weak, and achy all over. I was basically fighting puking. I couldn’t fight it for long. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was now almost 8pm. I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I staggered out of the worthless position that I was in on the couch and made my way to the bathroom like a pathetic fool. I put my finger down the chute and pulled the trigger unleashing several rounds of gut wrenching hell upon the porcelain. And thank God I did, I needed it. My entire breakfast came out. But I had another problem. I immediately felt a bout of explosive diarrhea comin’on. That’s right folks. The ole poop and puke had hit me. I don’t know if it was bad water, or bad food, or what. But it was all happening. All at once. I hope you’re not attempting to enjoy any food at this time while reading this. If you are my apologies but this is the raw uncut nature of my journey.
Meanwhile, the weather turned from dangerous freezing rain into several inches of heavy snow. I am just thinking to myself how awful it would be to be this sick somewhere on the trail fighting through this weather. Dehydrated and weak. It could be downright lethal. I was so thankful to have a toilet and warm dry conditions to be fighting through this illness. And a couple people who gave a crap about my well being enough to go pick up a couple of antibiotic prescriptions I had called in (Flagyl and Cipro) as well as pick me up some Pedialyte and Gatorades (3 of each) so that I could spend the next day recouping and getting back on the trail as soon as possible. And that’s exactly what I did. The entire next day was spent re-hydrating and trying to put some calories back in my body while the snow continued to fall outside.
What if I had had my glove that day I was trying to hit the trail initially? Where might I be and what condition would I be in? Everything truly does happen for a reason. All because I forgot one silly little glove. A glove that may have saved my life for all I know.