Days 4-5: Taking Zeros for the Common Cold

Day Four

I wasn’t planning on taking a zero so early, but I figured it’d be nice to spend time with my parents and explore the area more than I could while on trail. My symptoms were still pretty bad. My handkerchief was soaked with snot (I am well aware that that is disgusting) and I was sneezing like crazy. Otherwise, I was doing fine. I still had energy to go out and do things.

Helton Creek Falls was a waterfall near our Airbnb, so we decided to check it out.

Gear Changes

While most of the day was spent going to thrift stores, I ensured I could go to a backpacking store and change up some gear. The first to go was my bear canister. Despite the canister being the easiest to deal with when it came to storage and better in regards to minimizing food access to bears, carrying the 2.5-pound jug was hurting me while hiking. I debated on an Ursack, but have heard that they aren’t reliable. I instead got everything I needed to do a proper PCT bear hang.

Another thing that I wanted to change was my hydration system. I got the Hyperlite shoulder water bottle holder so I could still drink and hike instead of stopping. Instead of using a Smartwater bottle to push dirty water through my filter, I grabbed a CNOC Outdoors 2L bladder to make the process easier. I also purchased the Sawyer converter for times when I’d like to have a gravity hang. Additional items I purchased was a pillow because the way I’ve been sleeping lately hasn’t been fun. And lastly, I was convinced to purchase a gas adapter. I was told that several hikers leave half empty gas canisters and if I bought the adapter, I’d save money on the long run. Convinced me.

A few of the new items I purchased to make my pack feel better.

Later that night, I got really sick. I was coughing so hard that I was seeing white. I started taking sudafed and while it did help with the drainage, it did nothing for the cough. It only stopped once I knocked myself out with some melatonin.

Day Five

The next morning, I serenaded my parents with loud wheezing coughs, and they made the plan to stay another day and take me to urgent care to get some stronger stuff. I am very thankful they made that decision for me.

I spent most of the day lounging around the house reading or blogging. The down time also gave me a lot of time to reflect on how much more I listen to my body now that I’ve started hiking the Appalachian Trail. It’s only been five days too. Most times, I just push through and don’t listen to what my body is telling me. Since the AT, if I don’t listen to my body, I could get seriously injured. I hope to internalize this practice outside of a survival situation. Only time can tell.

Possible Important Stuff to Know

While thrift shopping, I realized that they are great and cheap resources for hiking clothes (duh), but also travel sized items (i.e. soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, sunscreen), and braces for knees, ankles, etc. You just might strike gold.

Lastly, while I was at urgent care, the doctor said that if/when diarrhea hits, try eating marshmallows. He mentioned some chemical or whatever that starts with a ‘p’ that can help slow the runs down long enough to get proper help. Some also say that marshmallows could help with coughing. That could just be a TikTok trend though. Do your research before taking advice from nonprofessionals off the Internet.

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Comments 2

  • Lewis Sharman : Mar 12th

    Uh, I suspect the urgent care doctor was referring to marshmallow leaf and root (the plant). Not the jet-puffed variety. I know, that was probably your wishful-thinking hiker-hunger voice kicking in… But, seriously, it’s not that kind of marshmallows. (BTW, you WILL get the runs at some point. You’ll survive.) Good luck!

  • Mel : Mar 13th

    Banana flakes are great for treating diarrhea. They can be bought online. They’re dehydrated bananas that you can add to yogurt or whatever. I recommend them to chemo patients for their diarrhea, and it’s always worked.


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