Monday, January 22, 2018

A Very Long Walk in May, Chapter 5


After our zero day in Grand Marais (GM), we called up Harriet Quarles who put little paper “business cards” at every trailhead along the route to advertise her shuttle service. Since hikers typically leave their vehicles in a parking lot somewhere close to the trail and hike far away in the opposite direction, they need someone to pick them up and return them to their car. “Shuttle services,” then, are often a necessity. Since the SHT is not a popular thru-hike (mostly people do shorter journeys on this trail), our choices for these services were limited.  Either we had to call the SHT sponsored shuttle or Harriet.  We chose Harriet.

On Monday morning, May 22, after a glorious day-long sabbath in GM, we packed up our backpacks with all of our newly-acquired food and supplies, dressed in our freshly washed hiking clothes, packed the dog’s pack with his convenience store (CS) dog food**, ate a good breakfast at the hotel buffet, and then sat in the lobby of our Best Western and waited for Harriet.  

We saw a large white industrial-looking van pull into the parking lot.  A tiny white-haired woman wearing rolled up jeans, a colorful oversized sweater, and socks under athletic Sketcher clogs jumped out and made her way into the hotel.  Because we were sporting backpacks, she assumed we were her clients and bid us to come with her.  While walking behind Harriet and looking down at the top of her head, I noticed that the tips of her hair were pink and had been hastily put into a lopsided bun that reminded me of an elderly one-bunned princess Leia.  Harriet liked to create her own conversation and told us that she was 70 and had been doing her shuttle service since she moved to GM in the 80’s.  But, now she only does it in the spring and summer months since she bought her condo in Florida.  “And it is the best %$@ service on the SHT, hands down!” she told us.  Harriet drove a very large and cluttered van.  As I rode in the front seat, I saw that she kept her late husband’s obituary in the cup holder along with some WD40 and a rosary.  Tess and Jet sat in the second seat as Harriet took us to our chosen trailhead at Pincushion Mountain and talked about how her wine-saturated friends had invited her to a garage sale/wine drinking party and that she had bought the shoes that she was now wearing at said event.  Harriet had very colorful language and trash talked about the other shuttle service and about some other female hikers she had picked up who sprained their wussy ankles and quit hiking the trail.  We wondered what things she said about us as she dropped us off on top of a hill on that cold and windy morning. 

On the trail again
The day started off windy and muddy with a couple of difficult climbs, but we trudged through because we are not wussy hikers.  Jet seemed a little sluggish, and noticeably slower, as we started but we just thought he had had a little too much relaxing at the dog-friendly hotel.  As we stopped for a very excellent lunch of all organic pepperoni and Parmesan cheese on triscuits, we heard Jet heave.  He choked up some foamy white grossness.  We chalked it up to the 3 cups of CS food that he had eaten that morning and filed this strange happening in the back of our little minds. We choose to avoid looking at his latent foamy slobber during lunch.

May 22, 2017  Day 8.  We called Harriet to shuttle us from our hotel in GM to our trailhead.  Pretty good day today and I was able to do 16 miles! I am getting stronger and I hurt less. Inclines are a tiny bit easier.  No rain today, but some cool temps and winds.  Staying at Cut Log campsite tonight.  Supper with fritos and licorice, good conversation.  Jet’s coat helps him.

**As a dog returns to his vomit (I know you have all been waiting for this)
After a nearly 16 mile day of slogging through mud and misty haze and with a slightly under-the- weather pup, we camped at the Cut Log campsite and settled in with a hot supper.  We went to bed by 7:30 (as we did most nights).  At 4:30 am, we were awakened by Jet forcefully puking at the feet of our sleeping bags.  In my groggy state, I sat up, pushed the dog outside and surveyed the mess.  The vomit was filled with blood and mucous.  We cleaned it up as best we could with wet wipes and Kleenex.  When we let Jet back in the tent, we prayed that he wouldn’t die and tried to sleep a couple more hours.  Arising by 6, we quickly packed up and left our campsite with all of our disgusting vomit garbage hidden away in our packs.  Jet was slower than yesterday and lethargic.  We dared not feed him anything and thought maybe we would have to cut out trip short to save him.  As we climbed that morning, we got to a ridge where we actually had phone service and I was able to call our very calm vet (it was 7 am) and rehearse last night’s scary occurrence.  Being the logical, non-alarmist that he is, Dr. Mai told me not to panic and to feed Jet a little oatmeal or rice or potatoes for a few days before putting him back on the Cstore dog food.  Gastric distress in dogs can surface as blood in the vomit or stool—who knew?  Relieved, we sat eating our breakfast of peanut butter/Nutella tortillas, and we praised God for his provision and for a dog who didn’t die; we like Jet and didn’t know what we would do with a dead dog on top of a mountain.

Jet quickly recovered.

Tess congratulating Jet for eating his oat, rice, oil, pb porridge

May 23, 2017  Day 9.  After the incident last night, the day seemed very long and cold, but we were happy that Jet survived.  It rained as we set up our tent and cooked supper.  Jet’s eating our rice, oats, peanut butter and olive oil mixed with a tiny bit of his new food and he seems better. Lots of good talking today but kind of gray moods because of all the bad weather.  Maybe sunshine tomorrow, God? 

We stayed at a VERY LOUD campsite on this night.  We think the river insects were having a party.  I interviewed Tess about it.


1 comment:

  1. Totally enjoying your "Walk".. Is that BAD that I am enjoying reading about your hard times? I feel guilty... Keep the story coming... BTW I really admire your stamina and determination.