Location- KOA campground
Elevation- 2,251 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 14.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 444.5 miles
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- beaten, but high
Days without shower- jumped in a pool
This was the hardest day for me yet, mentally and physically. The fact that it was Friday the 13th was all the more ominous.
I woke up to Katana’s left eye being totally swollen and crusted shut. I immediately thought of the poodle bush that she walked into yesterday. This was all she and myself needed…a new ailment to make her journey through the desert any harder than it already was.
She could walk, but there was no way I was letting her do it with one eye, especially with all the poodle bush still present; I didn’t even care if I got it now. All I wanted to do was get her down to the road, and into a vet.
Right off the bat, it was a sweltering day with almost no breeze, making it ten times worse. On top of that, Katana kept fidgeting, trying to swipe at her swollen eye, making it incredibly difficult to keep her balanced.
The first almost 7 miles to the Ranger Station were mostly down hill and went by fast. There was only a caretaker there, and he was able to give me the number to a woman that would help get me into town once I reached the main road.
After the Ranger station, my day fell apart. Late morning kicked in, and the temperature continued to rise. I pulled out my umbrella to shelter katana from the brunt of the sun, however it was still miserably hot. I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I’d been so worried about katana, that I really didn’t have an appetite to begin with. Either way, the tank was on empty, and I was suffering for it. Also, it was another 8 miles to the KOA, which was also our next water source. It was turning into a perfect storm for disaster.
The last 5 miles were the worst; lots of climbs. Any other day, these would have been a breeze, but today, I was hitting a wall. Every time I began to climb, I would get sick and nausea, and have to sit down. I was running out of water, I couldn’t force myself to eat food, Katana was burning up and visibly miserable, and I couldn’t do a thing about any of it without putting ourselves through more hell and misery before we could finally reach salvation.
There were probably three separate occasions while sitting down, sick to my stomach and dizzy, when I felt helpless and almost like crying to relieve the frustration. I wanted nothing more than to teleport down to the road and be done with the day. I never feel like this, except for in very rare, dire situations, and it takes a lot for me to admit that I felt this way. I felt it strong enough, that I would feel like a liar if I didn’t mention it in my journal. I was horrified over Katana’s condition, and apparent discomfort, and it was killing me inside that I wasn’t strong enough to power through my own moments of weakness, as well as the tough conditions, in order to get her to help more quickly.
During one of my sit downs, I checked my phone for service and was relieved to see that I had some; time to get proactive. I looked up a vet in the nearby town of Acton, and gave them a call. I was able to schedule her an appointment for 4 pm. This gave me a deadline, and more motivation to get the last miles to the road over with.
When we did finally hit asphalt, I felt like half my problems had melted away. I did another half mile to the KOA, called the woman who’s number I was given, and had a ride with her lined up for 3:30.
The woman’s name was Mary, and she was an absolute angel. She’d been helping hikers for several years, picking them up, helping them, getting them to places they needed to be, and asking nor accepting anything in return. She only did it because it made her feel good to help others.
She dropped me and the pup off at the animal clinic and told me she’d be waiting outside when we were done. It was way more than she had to do.
The doc looked Katana over, checked her airways, cleaned and stained her eye to look for damage; then found her fine in all of those departments. He gave me special eye drops, as well as a steroid to give her once a day for eight days.
The clinic was nice enough to throw in a free grooming session to remove any poodle bush residue from her fur. While waiting on that, Mary took me to the grocery store and the Hardware store to resupply.
Once back at the KOA, everything felt normal again. I jumped in a pool to clean off, ate, socialized, and got ready for bed. It was almost like the first part of the day never happened, and it felt great. Katana was a little out of it, but I’m confident she’s going to get through this hiccup. She’s got what it takes, but the bad luck has been challenging so far.
I don’t have a solid plan for tomorrow, but to play it by ear…
Go to my book, “Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail”