Getting Sick on the Appalachian Trail?

walking on the wild sideI hope not!  I finished my comments about the southern end of the Appalachian Trail, with the discovery of a hiker laying on the road (see previous blog).  I was pulling out of the parking lot for Springer Mountain and a staggering hiker, begged me for help, fell down and threw up!

What do you do?  There may or may not be anyone else who will come there for days, and he was in serious trouble.  He got sick on the Appalachian Trail several days before, and hikers helped him to make it out of the wilderness.  (Out of the wilderness?  I was 7 miles from a paved road and then another 15 miles to the nearest town!)  I was this guy’s only help.  We threw the backpack in the back of the truck and we headed off, the opposite way that I knew to go, but a general idea where I should be heading.

It was turning out to be a nice day, so I had the windows down and off we went,  more slowly this time, the movement of the truck was contributing to his dry heaves, every couple of minutes.

I realized that I did not have my good map with me, I must have given it to a guest again, wanting to know where to find something while they were in one of our rental cabins.  Well, I had my GPS, why worry? (see AT blog about going the wrong way on the trail).

There is no such thing as a straight road in the mountains, if you are on a road going east, it will ultimately get to the east, but you will have to go south, west, north and east all at the same time to get there.  I knew where this guy wanted to go, and without my map I deferred to his insistence that this was the right way to get back to the Hostel he started at in Dahlonega.  I knew that if I went the opposite way than we had ventured out, we could get there on paved roads with relative ease, but what the heck, feeling reckless and a retching hiker in the truck, why not go exploring!

Some 45 miles later, we made it out to the paved road.  He was right that this road would get us there, but there were several shorter ways to get there.  I dropped him off at his Hostel in Dahlonega, he left his barf bag in my truck, and I got thinking, What is he sick with?  With all the media hype about Swine Flu, I started getting paranoid.

I shook his hand when I dropped him off, had moved the barf bag to the bed of the truck, am I going to be a Swine Flu Statistic?  I quickly found a convenience store, threw away the bag, washed my hands and bought a can of Lysol.  Sprayed the whole truck, sprayed it again, and again.

If you hear about a confirmed case of Swine Flu in the next day or two in Dahlonega with a hiker, we need to get on the Appalachian Trail and find all of the other sick people, who helped him.

Several comments here are warranted:

  1. Don’t go hiking alone in wilderness areas.
  2. Let other people know where you are going, and when you will check in with them.
  3. Plan B, prepare for the unexpected.  I would have never thought about what would you do if you got sick in the woods and needed to get out of the wilderness.  Items 1 and 2 above would have been a great help to this guy,(no cell phone coverage in many areas, but it can still work when you can get a signal!  I was walking on the AT yesterday, in the “middle of nowhere” talking to a real estate broker.  It can be a life saver if you can get a signal.)
  4. Medicine, – common sickness in the woods usually have to do with your stomach and intestines, sanitary conditions, and drinking water sources.  Expect the unexpected.

come visit Sundance Cabin Rentals!

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