Rainstorms and Empty Wallets

Over the last couple weeks, Stryder and I have made several milestones together – reaching mile markers 400, 500, and 600 on the Appalachian Trail. Soon we will be at 700 and right after that, McAfee’s Knob – the most photographed spot on the AT.

About a week ago, we both discovered that we somehow picked up giardia, a nasty parasite that makes you violently ill… from both ends. Whoops. We believe it came from borrowing water from someone on the trail and them not realizing it wasn’t filtered, perhaps. We were laid up in Marion, Virginia for a couple days as we started our antibiotic regimens.

We hiked out and I was still feeling a bit ill, realizing I probably wasn’t eating enough to make up for being sick, let alone the fact that I am now burning anywhere from 6000 to 7000 kilocalories a day and only eating 4000 to 5000 kilocalories a day. Tired and hungry is a recipe for irritable.

Before hitting Bland, VA, I had posted on Facebook just how sick I was feeling. My friend, and fellow hiker, Plodding Bison, came to the rescue. She texted me to say she was calling ahead to Bland and would pay for a motel room for the night. I also found out, once I got there, that she wired money to me via Western Union with the intention that I eat a lot with it – knowing that I was about out of money for food. Done and done. What a blessing! Heck, she even offered to drive over 8 hours just to help out. The true heart of a trail angel.

As we hiked into Bland, the skies began to open up. We were in such an awful mood that by the time our packs and clothing and everything else were soaked, we had decided this was it. After being sick, hungry, and now soaked – it was time to call it quits. With that in mind, we started down the road into Bland, continuing to be pounded by a driving rain and terrible thunderstorms.

Just as we were beginning to walk, a truck comes by and the driver yells out “hop in and throw your packs on the back!” A miracle. The trail provided again. He not only drove us into town, but all the way to the motel where Plodding Bison booked us a room. Thanks, Leon!

When we got there, Dancing Crane was staying there with her dog Sierra. Another couple of pure trail angels. She brought us to resupply and got us cheered up. Of course we were going to stay on trail. We just needed to find a way to keep our spirits full.

From Bland we hiked to Pearisburg, where we are now and where we spent the Fourth of July. Hooray! I’ll try to post more later, but for now – thanks for all your support and love. Live Long and Prosper.


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