Six days ago I woke up 17 miles from Echo Lake with a fever. Karrie & I had plenty of food so we knew waiting it out for a little while wouldn't stop us from making it to the next town. But as the day went on I wasn't getting any better. In between bouts of sleep, & Karrie's care-giving, we considered our options.
1) Take a few Ibuprofen and start hiking back toward Echo Lake and hope someone with a boat could give us a ride before we made it all the way back. 2) Wait for it to pass and hope I feel so much better we can just keep hiking like this never happened. 3) We had reception. We could call for a medi-vac airlift.
Option 3 would virtually end our hike financially & logistically, option 2 didn't seem to be working, and option 1 wasn't sounding too appealing to me. Around 3pm Karrie and I decided it was time to make a decision. We noticed as the day wore on that a number of hikers had passed near our campsite. We were tucked away, but close enough we could overhear an occasional conversation. Karrie noticed that a group of three woman who stopped to sun themselves close to our camp were wearing daypacks.
Day hikers meant there was a much shorter route to our current location than the 17 miles we hiked in! Day hikers were our best ticket out of here. Karrie went to the shore to pay them a visit and find out where they hiked in from. While she was gone I prayed and prayed that she would come back and tell me it was only 3 miles. Then I could just pop a few pain killers and drag myself out of here...
Karrie returned with vitamin water and 2 Tylenol. Apparently the 3 women she had spoken with had hiked in 5.5 miles and had offered to carry my gear out for me if I was up for the hike; they also had given her the Tylenol and drink. I knew this was the best option we were ever going to be given so I told Karrie I was good enough to give it a shot and to thank these amazing ladies. Helen, Jolie, and Liz packed up our camp and divvied up my gear & by the time they were done I was feeling the best I had all day. Since I rarely take any medicine the Tylenol & caffeine were as good as morphine to me!
We hiked slowly and some parts were easier than others for me, but we made it out! By the time we got to the car I was feeling pretty rough, but we still had so much to do. Correction, Karrie, had SO much to do. She found me some medicine at CVS, looked up the hours of the Urgent Care, and booked us hotel, all while I sat in the car feeling weak & pathetic.
I spent much of the next 48 hrs in the bathroom & was really worried that I had somehow contracted Giardia. In between bathroom visits & sleep I managed to ride the bus to the urgent care & see a doctor. Upon hearing my symptoms he immediately asked what I had to eat the day before I came down with the fever. When I said Grilled Chicken, he nodded & told me I had Salmonella Poisoning. The thought hadn't crossed my mind until he told me it was a possibility, but the symptoms made sense.
Karrie & I spent 3 nights in hotels while I was feeling particularly miserable. The cost was starting to hurt us financially though, so we started asking around to see if anyone was feeling generous enough to host us for a few days. We were lucky enough to be put in touch with an incredible trail angel named Sara. She picked us up in town & welcomed us into her home. Karrie, me, & 5 other hikers spent the next 3 days living with her & her German Shepard Jackie-Boo.
As I finally started feeling better I began slowly eating "normal" foods again & walking around town. Today (a week later) I'm finally ready to hit the trail again!
This experience has been exhausting physically, emotionally, & financially for both Karrie & myself. Because of our situation we decided to add a "donate" button to our blog. We're hoping we still have the budget to make it to Canada, but it's going to be tight. Any contribution you feel generous enough to offer will go directly toward feeding us.
We are now a week behind schedule & will need to make up for lost time in the months to come. We feel exceedingly greatful for the opportunity to finish this hike. We already feel that the hike has changed our lives & helped us grow as people & we believe it will continue to do so over these last 1500 miles. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts & prayers.
We love you all, Jake & Karrie