Day 4, august 29th
Start: cowboy camp at mile 520
End: green mountain house via us3; mile 538
Miles hiked: 18

Scudz and I did some number crunching yesterday. Scudz wants to finish the trail by November 10th, as she has a commitment to go to Africa after the trail in mind November. With some simple math, we realized we need to average 23 miles a day, zeros and everything included, to make that date. That would also be a 100 day hike for Andrea. For her first thru, that’s an epic pace. But after three days of hiking with her, I know she is more than capable. She’s strong, hikes very fast, and can hike the long days. Barring injury or extended illness, I think that pace is achievable for the both of us.

We plan out our days; try to get 26+ miles on full hiking days, and shoot for 30 if it’s possible. Do 20’s in and out of towns. And take the occasional zero when we have the room/need them. If we stick to this, we should make it to springer mountain in Georgia around the 10th of November. Let’s get after it!

I wake up early and do a few things before Scudz wakes up. It’s a chilly morning, the first time I’ve felt slightly cold since being on the AT. It’s a treat, I love crisp mornings. We hike out of camp, ghost and balue (sp?) still sleeping I their tent. Soon we reach little rock pond. Out east, they call most every inland body of water a ‘pond’. Out west, this would be a lake. But here, it’s little rock pond, and it’s beautiful. The pond is rung with a forest of green, all different shades and shapes. There’s an occasional yellow, orange, and even red tree here and there, being sure to remind us that fall is just around the corner. There’s a small island with pines, and a large rock face jutting out of the pond from the west side.

We contour the lake before re-entering the thick forest. The trail seems to be engulfed by the forest on the AT. It forms a tunnel around the trail, capturing us and bringing us to a new world. The AT is so much different this way than the pct. The pct is all about exposure; vast views of towering peaks, open desert, and huge lakes. The AT is more about the subtle things; the way the light reflects through the forest, the apple tree that you can pick from, and the rustling of the leaves above you as the breeze blows by. I love the charm of the forest here. It’s a magical place, full of life and earthy smells. This morning, I’m happy to be here.

We reach Griffith pond, and stop for lunch. I eat a salami stick from the co-op in Hanover, a cliff builder bar, and a whole bag of gold fish. But as I eat the bag of good fish, I start to feel sick. As we hike out, I feel even more sick. My stomach is in a knot as I hike down the trail, slashing with every step over boulders and roots. Soon I get dizzy, and feel weak.

“I need to take a break. Something’s off, I feel like I might throw up.” I tell Scudz.

She’s patient, and talks over the symptoms with me (she’s a nurse).

“Sounds like giardia to me.” She says.

Same thing I thought. Oh shoot. I haven’t filtered my water since the desert in Southern California. I simply pull from most any water source and drink. Some of my hiking friends on the pct got giardia, so I know I was exposed to it. Yet I never got sick. I haven’t filtered or treated any water here on the AT, maybe there’s something in the water here that my system isn’t used to? I hike on, shivering a bit. I run through my head what might be going on. I felt fine this morning. Could it be something I ate?

I get more and more sick, nearly throwing up. I have to break so much to lay down, as hiking makes it worse. I don’t talk much, as I’m worried of what could be.

I make it to Bromley mountain, and start to feel a little bit better. It’s been five or so hours since I’ve eaten anything, and I don’t chance it, deciding to hold off until we’re in Manchester center, some three miles down the trail and a quick hitch away.

Once in town, I stop at the mcdonalds (don’t judge me), and order a few double cheese burgers and some chicken nuggets. I feel good – why not go for it. I eat the first burger in 3 bites. Then the nuggets. Then I feel like I need to go to the bathroom, almost immediately. I guess it was just time that made me feel a bit better, as eating really did me in.

We call up the green mountain house, a local hiker hostel, and get a ride out there. I take a shower, and lay in bed with a cold sweat. I text a few friends, my med school buddies, and call my mom. They all say it sounds like the G. Damnit.

I take some NyQuil and try to forget about it. Maybe I can sleep it off, I think. I get the number for the doctors office in town, prepared to go in the morning if need be. I hope I feel better in the morning. I hope I feel better in the morning….