High Level of Grrrrr: Mile 906-1287

Grrrr: an individuals ability or tolerance to adverse or unpleasant conditions.

While the exact etiology of the term isn’t clear, most would attribute its use to the popular digital radio program “The Meateater Podcast.” On the show, host and renowned conservationist, Steve Rinella describes the Level or Grrrr as how willing you are to keep pushing when you have hit tough times.

It goes without saying there are plenty of factors that will test your Grrrr on trail. Wet feet, big climbs, gnarly blisters to name a few. Twice now on trail I have had my metal tested. My Grrr gutcheck has come in the form of being sick on trail now twice.

Disclaimer: Do as I say not as I do.

So, this can kind of go without saying, but I will do my due diligence anyway. There is nothing to prove or no good reason to avoid medical care if needed. There is always a time for “pushing through” and a time for taking some time off. You are not and will not be a superior hiker because you refuse medical care when needed. That’s called being stupid, something I fall victim to far too often.

To put it simply, this is not and should not be used as medical advice.

Round 1: Giardia

I am not the first and won’t be the last to say my first encounter with giardia was on trail. It struck as we hiked back into the Sierra from a short day off in Bishop. As we hiked up and over Kearsarge Pass I began to feel the effects. I started feeling super burpy and bloated, then it got worse from there.

I’ll spare you the details but suffice it to say when you have a stomach aliment and a majority of your food is bars and knorr rice it’s not great. What followed was 3 days of slugging up and down mountain passes with what felt like ankle weights. The illness left me zapped of energy but still functional.

After a tough climb up to the Muir Pass approach I was near my breaking point. I stumbled into camp and forced down two helpings of Knorr (Knorr Spanish rice is the best flavor and I will die of that hill). We talked about options and realized there was pretty much only two; helicopter or hike on. I knew it wasn’t SOS territory yet and with no viable side trail to town the only option for me was to hike on. So that I did. Luckily I woke up feeling somewhat better and was through the worst of it. Slowly I regained my strength and recovered without complication.

The culprit: Leaky water bag that I was too stubborn to replace. I was one of the few who filtered every water source since day one but I had one flaw. A hole in my filter bag led to a few drops of unfiltered water being mixed in and the rest is history.

Round 2: Covid?

A few weeks after my giardia episode I unfortunately fell ill again on trail. This time I have no idea exactly what is to blame. I was between towns and had zero access to a Covid test so I don’t know what it was for sure. Covid has made a run around the hiking bubble as of late.

None the less I picked up something in Lake Tahoe. Again without access to any real towns There wasn’t a great option besides hike on in my own quarantine. Again a few miserable days of cold sweats and I was on the mend. Hiking was slow and tough but I took my time and was still hiking 20-25 mile days.

All is Well That Ends Okay


So what did being sick on trail twice teach me? I learned just how far I can push my body (not so much if I should be pushing my body like this). Also I learned a lot of flexibility and planning. Staying flexible on trail is essential and something that mostly comes with experience. It’s also worth mentioning that nutrition is not to be overlooked on trail. Throwing a few extra Emergen-C packets on the trail may be a game changer down the line.

Overall being sick on trail is miserable and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But with some good nutrition and a little extra Grrrr it’s nothing you can’t overcome.

Stay safe my friends.

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