Our bodies have ways of telling us to “pause” even when our
brains are on “fast forward.”
Such was the case this week.
where I was almost knocking on wood
about how well I was feeling after three weeks with major mileage? I knew
it needed to end, but I was having trouble gearing down for a rest week.
So my body forced me to do it.
Fortunately, it wasn’t my usual way of having to slow down
right when I was starting to feel fit and ready for an event – this time, no
Nope, this time I apparently caught a nasty little stomach
virus from Jim, who started having symptoms last weekend. Even though it caught
up to me during the night of the pizza party, it wasn’t food-borne. No one else
was affected at the gathering, and the symptoms have lasted too long to be food
This is the first time I’ve been sick for a year or more. I
haven’t even had a cold.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say I
haven’t been able to keep food down for three days and/or I’ve had a lot of GI
distress. I have zero energy and am mentally lethargic. Jim had a fever for a
few hours during his bout, but I haven't. Wednesday and Thursday I had no desire
to walk, let alone run. Today (Friday) I walked four miles, but it brought
neither relief nor pleasure because my stomach ached the whole time.
Some good things have come of this, however (I’m always
looking for the bright side).
AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
On the first day, when I was feeling the worst, I hunkered
down in my recliner and read David Brill’s book, “As Far as the Eye Can See,”
which Neal Jamison had loaned me the night before. David wrote the book
about eleven years after his 1979 thru-hike on the AT. He hiked soon after
graduating from college and experienced many of the common life-altering themes
that young thru-hikers and others seeking answers to their life paths often
experience. The book flowed nicely and was an interesting perspective since it
was written a decade after his hike.
This is just one of many good AT thru-hiker books that have
been published the last fifty years. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it
when I was at a low point mentally and physically because it helped perk me up a
Another good thing about getting this stomach bug was that
it abruptly curtailed any immediate plans I had for a long run on the AT from
the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot, across Catawba Mountain, McAfee Knob, and
Tinker Cliffs, and along the ridges above Carvin’s Cove to Daleville on Rt. 220.
This is a pretty tough 27- or 28-mile section that will prepare most anyone for
most any 50K or 50-miler on their schedule. The only thing it lacks is that
"Rocky Mountain high" elevation.
Then I read in the paper that part of the Trail was closed
to hikers because of a suspicious four-acre fire on Catawba Ridge, not far from
the famous Home Place eatery. About 200 yards of the Trail burned. Fire crews
had to hike in 1 ½ miles to get to the scene, put out the fires, and cut down
snags that could injure hikers.
If I’d been up there doing a point-to-point run with Cody,
I might have had a very long detour to get back on the Trail to get to Point B.
I won’t know until I go up there this Sunday (current plan) if I could have
bush-whacked around it. Much of the Trail in that section is along a steep,
narrow ridge. I assume the Trail has re-opened by now.
Which reminds me of my third "rule" for this trek:
the need to be flexible and adaptable every day on the Trail. This sort of thing
could happen anywhere, any time, and I'll have to deal with it the best I can.
LESS EQUALS MORE
Being mostly house-bound for three days has also given me
an opportunity to get more sleep, make camping reservations at two nice state
parks during our first week in Georgia and North Carolina, finish writing three
of these prep pages, assemble some items we need on the trip, and enjoy scanning
a second book about the Trail.
This one is “Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail.”
Although I have several gardening books, they haven’t been very helpful
regarding identification of the numerous species of flowers I’ve seen along my
Virginia trails, including the AT. When I post photos of flowers on this site, I
want to have the correct common and/or botanical names for them. I remembered
seeing this book at the AT Conference headquarters last year but didn’t buy it
then. Suzanne Jamison kindly looked it up on the internet while we were at her
house Tuesday night so I could order it or find it locally before we left.
I found it at the first bookstore in Roanoke that I
checked. And no wonder - the author, Leonard Adkins, not only lives near here but
he and his lovely wife are fellow Roanoke AT Club members! I met Laura the last
time I did a work hike on rock bridges near McAfee Knob. I don’t believe I’ve
met Leonard, but now I know what he looks like so I can introduce myself next
time I see him.
This is one of those “it’s a small world” moments.