Day 42: Panic Attacks on a Gorgeous Day

Morning Struggles Alright

Sleep did not come easy nor did it stay easy. I slept fitfully and was constantly woken up by the howling wind and large splatters of rain. Everytime I became aware of my surroundings, my mind immediately went to possibly having norovirus. It was hours of torture. I did stay laying down until 7:00, though.

I wasn’t doing well. With how much stress I was in, I was making myself nauseous. I packed up my wet gear (not due to rain, but due to chilling in a cloud all night) and mustered the energy to try to eat breakfast. I had prepared oatmeal one last time, but knew I couldn’t eat it. I didn’t even want to eat a Clif bar. I merely sucked on a packet of baby food.

The Plan

Ever since I woke up, I knew I needed to get to town and just relax. I planned on hiking to Carvers Gap (1.5 miles away) and then taking a shuttle to whatever hostel would take me. As I was eating breakfast, I went to Fine Young Buck and Sweeper and informed them that I was possibly taking a nero. I was still undecided. There wasn’t much conversation and the whole affair felt extremely awkward. The negative voice in my head was telling me that they didn’t care and was glad to be rid of me.

To Carvers Gap

A sad picture of myself. I was not in a good place. I can laugh about it now.

I left with tears in my eyes. I finished packing up and began the descent to Carvers Gap. I was crying the entire time. I was at a point, mentally, that I didn’t even care if I tripped and fell due to blurry vision. My arms hung dejected at my sides – my trekking poles not in use. I was a mess. There were times the sun poked through the layer of clouds and I sobbed anew.

When I heard hikers behind me, I tried to get my shit together. Crying is not a weakness, but it’s still ingrained in our society that it is. Especially if it’s coming from a female. I loathe being perceived as weak by my male counterparts.

They passed and asked how I was doing. I have a nasty habit of telling the truth, so when I said, “Not good,” they noticeably became uncomfortable. They didn’t leave, but talked with me about how the emotions go through a roller coaster. They then discussed how this next section of trail was the prettiest. Talking with them gave me the confidence to keep going.

Change of Plans

At Carvers Gap, I stopped and used the restroom. When in Rome and all… Tag-A-Long was there taking pictures of thru-hikers and gave me a banana. I was eating it as I walked back to the trail junction and saw Fine Young Buck and Sweeper. They knew I was struggling and they waited for me to undo my pack to put the banana peel into my trash bag and repack my bag. I lead us to the first bald of the day: Round Bald.

I still wasn’t using my trekking poles, which I found weird. I didn’t need them though. Nearing the top, I stopped to take pictures before continuing to the top. The wind was moving, which brought clouds in and took them out at a fast pace. The scenery was constantly changing. I was feeling much better.

Jane Bald

On the way to the second bald, Jane Bald, my mood plummeted. I was feeling nauseous again. I stopped halfway up and grabbed a blueberry Clif bar. I figured I needed something in my stomach. Sweeper and Fine Young Buck passed me. By the time I made it to the top, both were already checking their phones for signal. I dumped my pack on the ground and sat on one of the large rocks. I continued nibbling on my bar. Today was becoming a big struggle.

I slowly ate and waited for Sweeper and Fine Young Buck to leave. Sweeper left first and Fine Young Buck came over and patted me on the head. “Everyone needs a head pat every now and then.” He left too. The moment they were gone, I sobbed. It was ugly crying too. I had no energy to keep it in.

Something Needs to Change

When I saw hikers, I moved further up the trail and cried some more. Everything in my body was telling me to stop hiking for the day. Looking back, I think I was having a panic attack. I called my dad and he told me to keep going. I called my mom and she said to listen to my body and to take a nero. So I did. I called two hostels and one was open and had availability. They would pick me up at Carvers Gap at 11:30. I had an hour and a half to walk back. Plenty of time. I called my sister and answered the phone sobbing. I bet she wasn’t expecting that. We chatted for a bit before I needed to go.

Photograph credit: Ranger

The hike back was filled with relief. I was making the right decision. At the gap, the shuttle was there twenty minutes earlier, so I apologized and we left for the hostel. On the ride back, one hiker tried to converse with me, but I was out of it. He finally got the notice and stopped talking.

Mountain Harbour Hostel

Upon arrival, I shuffled out of the van and asked about how to check in. The guy who drove us didn’t know much, so we waited for one of the ladies in charge. I asked for a private room in the hostel, but found out I was going to share it with another. In addition, I passed the one hiker with symptoms of norovirus. I immediately grabbed my stuff and asked for a room in the house. I was going to pay nearly double, but I didn’t care. Is there a price on the peace of mind? Yes and it sucks.

The view off my balcony.

While waiting for my room to be ready, I ate lunch. I was finally hungry. I was conversing with other hikers and was informed that my room was ready. I headed up and got to see the room. No wonder the price was high, I had my own private balcony, which I used to dry out my gear. At least the cost of the room covered laundry and breakfast – which the other did not. It made up.

The wait for the bathroom to open up took a while, but when it did, I took a long shower. It wasn’t as much of a novelty as other showers despite being the nicest bathroom I’ve been in since this journey.

Afterwards, I started a load of laundry and socialized. I mainly listened. I went back and forth from the pavilion and my room to do various things.

Food, Food, Food

The restaurant on the property.

By 4:00, I waited with the other hikers, including Hawaii who was taking a nero as well, for the bar on the property to open up. I was ready for some good food. They opened late, but once it was open, we rushed for a bar seat. It wasn’t a flood of people – it was only three of us. I ordered a chicken fajita hoagie with garlic parmesan fries. I sipped on a Mike’s Hard Lemonade while we waited. When it came, I inhaled it. The server asked if we wanted dessert and I said later. I was full.

I went back up to my room with clean laundry and started spraying down gear with a half used bottle of Permethrin. Got to grab it while you can. I laid comatosed on my bed before deciding to walk down the hill for dessert.

It did not disappoint. It was two scopes of fried ice cream with a pineapple glaze spread on top. I’m a sucker for some fried ice cream. During the midst of my eating, a couple were trying to convince the owners to sell their product. It’s a product called Dirt, which is essentially pork floss. One of the workers started handing bits out and asked if we liked it and would be willing to pay five dollars for it. I said I would pay two to three dollars. Yes, it’s lightweight, but there weren’t many calories. Only 130. It was interesting watching the interactions though.

Afterwards, I headed back up to the house and went to bed. I tired myself out.

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