Day 43: 5/21/14, PCT Mile 608.9

Miles hiked: 6.8
Camped at: n/a, bailed at Landers Camp to go see a doctor in Lake Isabella

Official diagnosis: bronchitis. At least it isn’t pneumonia! Waiting to be seen at a small town health clinic with my pack in tow and all of my trail dirt still very evident was socially awkward but I was so grateful the doctor was willing to see me as a walk in patient. She tskked and shook her head after listening to my lungs and said I was wheezing with every breath. I suppose my asthma has been so well controlled for so long (or I was in such denial) that I didn’t even realize it. In addition to a third round of antibiotics in the past 5 weeks and a prescription cough syrup, she wrote me a script for a new rescue inhaler as she was convinced my old one wasn’t working well for me the past 2 days. After using the new one tonight I have to say I agree! She made me promise I wouldn’t hike out until the wheezing was completely gone. I agreed.

This morning was cool and damp as I awoke, and I enjoyed once again the fact that I’m so much more comfortable in my BA tent. I didn’t sleep well again, though, and felt so very tired. With the cough still rattling my lungs, my nostrils filled with thick snot (nasty, sorry for the details), and looks of concern from my fellow hikers, I set off and immediately began thinking again of contingency plans. The tall pines and boulder-y rolling hills made for a very pleasant hike, despite the spitting rain and ominous clouds. I was trying to enjoy the day, but was having many negative thoughts surrounding this idea: “How am I going to get off the trail? I need to see a doctor – I can’t enter the Sierras feeling like this.” I had a mini-break down with Happy Feet and Glimmer, who were both so supportive. I had to face up to a worst case scenario for me – what if I had pneumonia and had to go home for a while? Would my thru hike attempt for this year be totally detailed? Could I be happy with coming back and ultimately being a section hiker this year? Drama queen much??

I’ve found it ironically humorous that as I popped cough drop after cough drop the past few days, I would read the “pep talk” messages on each wrapper. Right after my mini break down, the pep talk was: “You’ve survived tougher” – hmm, yes, I’d say some of the hypothermic weather conditions on the AT last year were potentially more life threatening than this cold; “Get through it” – thanks a lot, Pep Talk, really inspiring, almost as bad as “You can DO it!” would have been; and “Don’t give up on yourself” – that one I need to take to heart.

At Landers Campsite, Happy Feet, Glimmer, and I ran into Jordi, who as usual had night hiked on the day before. I stocked up on enough water to dry camp at Kelso Rd trailhead in 6 miles if I couldn’t find a ride out today. Wait a minute – is that a vehicle? Glimmer shot off down the road from the water tank, jogging with her full pack on, to see if I could bum a ride off the mountain. Success! Pio, a nice retired local gentleman, had a permit to collect downed trees for firewood and was getting a load together. Happy Feet promptly offered to help, and spent half an hour doing manly physical labor while I hacked and coughed, and Glim and Jordi kept me company. So grateful to my fellow hikers for waiting with me and scoping out my ride! I was happy to carry their trash out, it’s amazing how much we accumulate in just 3 days. Happy Feet manhandling the large logs while Jordi looks on:

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After a long winding way down the mountain, Pio dropped me off at the Lake Isabella health clinic and by 4pm I was checking in at the motel and the owner, Lonny, so kindly offered to drive me to Rite Aid to have my prescriptions filled. Afterwards I met up with Teddy Rose, who I was thrilled to learn was in town! I just missed seeing Rocket Llama and Rei, who had headed back to the trail that afternoon. Raspberry was also in town, and Gotta Walk showed up too! Moral of the story, any future PCT-ers, just plan to go into Lake Isabella, save yourself the extra 2.5 days of food weight out of Tehachapi. With the water carries, it’ll be worth it. It didn’t seem that anyone was planning to come in here and yet with the rigors of this section many did.

All stocked up to get better:

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