Posted by: blinklove | August 25, 2010

“Monsters Inside Me”

Hello everybody! Hiking through the Sierras has been absolutely magnificent.  The tough climbs and incredible views are reminding me of the extraordinary hiking experiences I had in Maine and New Hampshire.  This last stretch has been tough and interesting for a few different reasons.

We hiked down Kearsarge Pass with my brother and sister into Independence.  We were just going to grab supplies and head right back into the mountains, but Stephen and I both were not feeling that great so we decided to take the evening off.  We stayed at the Courthouse Motel.  I was a bit weary because of the name, but the owner was incredibly hospitable, the price was cheap, and the room was nice and clean. We woke up early the next morning, but to our surprise could not find a hitch back to the trail ( I have since found out that many people avoid going to Independence all together because of this exact reason).  We waited a couple of hours before deciding to catch the bus north to Mammoth.  We had learned about Mammoth transit and knew we could easily get to the trail without relying on a hitch. So the plan was to hike these 125 miles south back to Independence, and then again take the bus to Mammoth and continue north.

One hundred and twenty five miles is a long stretch, our longest yet without a re-supply.  We did not get to the trail until late in the afternoon so we only did about four miles the first day.  The second  day Stephen really wasn’t feeling well.  We decided to take it slow and we only did fourteen.  He was still in bad shape the following day, but we had to do bigger miles to make it to Independence with the food we had brought, so we did a 22.  The third day we hiked 10 miles and then took a side trail to a place called John Muir Ranch.  A lot of hikers have food sent here. The food is carried up the mountain on the backs of mules, and the hikers pay a special delivery fee.  Fortunately for others, people often send themselves way more food then they are willing to carry, so there is an access of free food available to anyone that wants it.  We cooled off, cooked some lunch, and nibbled on trail mix bags we found in the give-away buckets.  Stephen still wasn’t feeling well at this point, but decided to carry on, and we hiked out.

Only about two miles later, we had to stop and talk about the situation.  Stephen was extremely fatigued, having to rest on down hills, and his abdominal pain hadn’t lessened a bit.  He constantly felt nauseous.  I told him that he should rest and get better, and I could continue on and knock out the remaining miles.  I gave him the stove, and took the tent.  He gave me all of his protein bars, extra batteries, and bug spray. I was going to walk him back to the John Muir Ranch to make sure we could find him a way to town. Right then, however, a man walked by and asked how we were doing.  I explained to him our predicament, and he said that if Stephen was still at the ranch in the morning, he would give him a ride to town.  Knowing there was a a way out for him, Stephen and I said our goodbyes and I carried on into the wilderness.

It was about 5:00 when Stephen and I parted, so I just hiked another 10 miles and set up camp to go to sleep at dark. I did not sleep very well that first night, for I was far too anxious.  Not to be to cheesy, but this was going to be the longest Bodi and I had been apart since we started dating.  Not only that, but I did not know how sick he was and I hated sending him off by himself given his condition.  I woke up many times and peeked out from my sleeping bag, “Nope, too early to get up, I can still see all the stars”.

Eventually when I popped my head out, everything was a deep blue. Time to go! I already had most of my clothes on, and through my rain gear on top- it was collllddd! I packed up and while still freezing, I told myself it was going to be fine.  I was about to be hiking fast and would warm up soon. About two minutes after completing this positive thought, I came to Evolution Creek- the only creek in the Sierra’s yet that demanded I take my socks and shoes to cross.  It was about two feet deep and fifteen feed wide.  No rocks and no way around it.  So I couldn’t help but laugh for a moment as I started barefoot in the glacier run-off water.  About half way through I realized, “Uh Oh! I better hurry!”.  I scrambled across to the other side and ran behind a tree. Turns out I am sick too!

I knew I wasn’t going to turn back, so I grabbed my pack and began a big day.  I hiked uphill for eleven miles straight.  My stomach was most unhappy and I had to stop and hide behind a rock.  I  kept hiking and was able to maintain a steady pace.  I reached the John Muir Hut, a wonderful shelter on top of the John Muir Pass. I think it is the only shelter on this trail. I ate some bars and rested for about forty-five minutes.  I then hiked for the rest of the day reaching a total of 25 miles.  I slept better that night, but woke up sick again.  I pressed on the following day, climbing over two passes for a total of 23 miles.  I couldn’t believe it, all I had left was 20 miles to Independence.  I was extremely driven by motivation.  I had no service which left me with no clue as to how Bodi may be, and where!

I woke up, got sick again, and went to retrieve my food from the bear box.  I opened it up and out walked a little mouse.  He looked at me with his big eyes saying something I didn’t quite understand, and then he left.  I looked around and then understood.  I think he was looking at me with the expression, “Hey, I’m sorry, I gotta eat too and it smelled so good!”  He had nibbled a little hole in most everything I could see, which of course, made me giggle.  He is lucky I was the one to find him, for hikers most definitely have a reputation for killing mice.   I packed up and was hiking no later than 6:30.

My bones and muscles were tired, I had certainly put them through a lot in the last few days.  However, I was impressed by the strength of my will.  I began to think about it more.  I realized that though I was grateful for my strong mind that kept pushing me on, I did not feel I deserved the credit.  Because when I am motivating and pushing myself, I am thinking about those I love.  I am thinking about Bodi, and how I want him to feel better.  I am thinking about Kobe and his loyalty.  I am thinking about my parents and my family.  I am thinking about the volunteers and staff at the Forsyth Humane Society, Fur-Ever Friends, and Best Friends and all the tiring hard work they take on their shoulders.  I am thinking about all the animals who are being mistreated and all of the people who have nowhere safe to go.  That is what makes me take step after step.  That is what makes me strong, makes me determined and persevere, makes me who I am. It is because of all of you that I am able to do what I do. You fill my heart with joy and courage, and it radiates through me and into my work.  I thought about this and I continued to work hard and I made it back down Kearsarge Pass and into Independence by 2:00.

I baked in the sun for about an hour and checked in with Bodi and my family.  I was thrilled when a car finally came in my direction and stopped to pick me up. A very nice woman named Sue drove me into town.  Her 14 year old black lab was riding with us also, and Sue told me the story of how she rescued her.  Sue has volunteered with animals in need and is known in her town for all the animals she watched for people.  We had a lovely conversation and I felt lucky to be in her and Margarita’s presence.

I caught a bus to Mammoth and was reunited with my sweet Bodi. Turns out we both had the same symptoms and knew what we had, the dreaded giardiasis.  We went to a doctor today who agreed with our diagnosis and prescribed us a ton of antibiotics.  So now I introduce you to the “Monsters Inside Us.”

Giardiasis is an infection of the small bowel by a single-celled organism called Giardia lamblia. People get giardiasis when they swallow water or food contaminated by an infected person or animal. Giardia causes giardiasis, an intestinal illness. When water contaminated with Giardia cysts is ingested, stomach acid dissolves the cyst and frees the microorganism inside (  The microorganism usually infects the upper intestinal tract and causes discomfort. It  can cause nausea, anorexia, fever, and severe diarrhea.

So you may be thinking, why did you not treat your water?  Well we do treat our drinking water.  Our mistake was with cooking.  We would always just bring the water to a boil. We did not know that to rid water of  giardiasis, you have to boil with water for at least eight minutes.  Oops! It is a wonder how Caity, Willie, Sketch, nor I were ever effected on the Appalachian Trail.

So we now have drugs and though we are a bit woozy from the sickness, we are continuing north today.  We will hopefully have a chance to upload pictures in the next town.  We miss you very much and thank you once again for you support!

Until next time,




  1. We called it the Green S…..s on the AT and managed to miss that experience but heard how bad it was. Sorry.

  2. It was great meeting you Heather! Maggie and I enjoyed hearing about your adventure and worthy cause. (Mag would like to make a donation) Since she has trouble with the whole thumb thing I am going to help her! Sorry about the Beaver Fever!! Hope you are feeling better.

  3. You are so amazingly strong. It’s hard to believe… LOTS of us are rooting for you, thinking of you, and grateful to you.

  4. Bless your hearts, your bravery and gumption astound me! Take care of yourselves, thank you for the illustration, and keep up the good work. You’re certainly setting a fine example. Can’t wait to see the new pictures.

  5. What a tough hike you guys had, but glad to see you made it to safety and are on your way to getting healthy again. We are all grateful for what you are doing for the homeless, and you two both inspire me to keep going.
    STAY SAFE!!!! PLEASE!!!!!
    Sure do miss you

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