mile 1994.6-2022.2 (Rockpile Lake)
I headed out into the landscape of burned trees and lava rock and started climbing back into forest. Last night, Allyson had pointed out the huckleberries along the trail to me, and I got my first taste of these sweet berries. Now, it was easy for me to spot them and I stopped occasionally to grab and enjoy a few.
During my first break of the day, while sitting on a rock in a tunneled forest section, I was surprised to see that I had reception! I checked Facebook and saw that someone had sent me a message! I wondered who it was from before I opened it. It was from my doctor friend from college. The message had no greeting. It began, “I saw your post.” I immediately knew that this was not going to be a friendly message. In my two minutes of time that I had to compose my update on what was happening to me in Central Oregon while in Bend, I had written that I had discovered that I been suffering from C. Dif which I likely contracted from the antibiotics I had taken for giardia. In parentheses, I wrote that I hate Western Medicine. Every time I had gone to a doctor for a problem in my life, I always returned with an even greater one. When I stress fractured one of my metatarsals, the doctor that I saw squeezed it hard and told me that I just needed to rest it and take ibuprofen for 10 days. I walked out of that office in much more pain than when I had walked in from his squeezing and the ibuprofen did nothing to alleviate it. I later had an MRI which clearly showed the fracture and was ordered to use crutches for the next six weeks. When I had my upper and lower jaws broken and moved, I was left with a permanent sinus infection, which I now have to deal with every single day. I even had a second surgery to remove the plates and screws (later to find out they were not all removed…!). My surgeon had no idea what was causing the sinus infection. Before the surgery, he had told me that the jaw is not connected to the rest of the body. The antibiotics that I took on this hike to treat girdia gave me something even worse. These are just some of the stories of what has happened to me. I have found that Western medicine is not a holistic healing treatment and most often causes greater harm to the body with its invasive methods.
Her message continued, “Flagyl rarely causes Cdiff. It can, but it isn’t the most common abx to cause it. I am really offended by your post about hating Western medicine. ‘Western medicine’ was there for you when you needed treatment for your ‘giardia’. Next time email your yogi friends to call in a prescription to nowheresville CA.
I sat there stunned and all I could think was “Wow!”. Wow…
So many thoughts went through my head. Did she really want to burn the bridge with me? How could the sweet person I had known say such things to me? This was a side of her that I had never before witnessed. Where was the compassion of a doctor (and brand new mother)? I had been suffering for months now, all the while hiking over 20 miles a day. I did not ask her for help a second time, not wanting to overstep my boundaries or ask for too much, but I finally relented when given the names of the antibiotics that could help some 1200 miles later… I never felt better, even for a day, after taking the flagyl. It was not “there for me.” If she was willing to listen, I could explain my reasons for what I had written. My experience is just as valid as hers and I have a right to speak my truth. In her last sentence, she not only put me down, but my yoga practice, yoga community, fellow hikers, and people who live in these towns along the trail.
As I walked on, I realized that the things she had written were partly stemming from jealousy and things that she was not happy with in her own life. She had told me before that she sometimes regretted taking the path of the MD. Choosing a path closes other doors. By insulting these trail towns, she was really telling me that she was not happy being stuck in Boston, having to go into work every day. Still, I couldn’t believe this attitude and her choice of words. I realized that there are different sides to everyone, but if my first yoga teacher, Checka, who is one of the sweetest and kindest people I have ever met, ever wrote something like this to me, I would lose all hope in humanity.
I started to think about the people I know who practice yoga and felt extremely grateful for having discovered this practice and community, without which, I would be much, much worse off. It is possible to disagree with one another and still be kind. We need to leave space to hear one another out, listen to each other’s experiences, and start an open dialogue. Typing or shouting out harsh words in an immediate reaction to something shuts everything down and leaves no place to go. I took a small amount of comfort in knowing that I don’t interact with others in such a way.
I decided that I would only respond to her message when I had a chance to sit down and type out a thoughtful, compassionate message that explained why I had written what I did.
In a couple more miles, I reached the 2,000 mile point of the hike. There was no number drawn in stones or sticks. There was no fanfare or recognition of this fact at all. I remembered the road on the AT that marked this milestone. Here, I just kept walking. I still had nearly 700 miles to hike.
The sun was burning down on me. Before long, I reached a flat stretch and heard the traffic on the highway. Some hikers chose to hitch into Sisters or Bend from this road and I was curious to see what the situation looked like. Before I came out to the pavement, though, I spotted a box of donuts and the biggest chocolate bar I had ever seen in the dirt! I decided I might as well have some! I felt gluttonous, standing there stuffing my face.
Then, I headed to the road and waited for a break in the traffic to cross it. Cars were speeding down and it didn’t seem like hitching from there would be an easy task! On the other side of the road, I found a small water cache and some more donuts! I stopped to collect some water and then two male hikers headed down. One told me that there was a little more water up the way a bit and the other told me I would find some candy on the posts!
I finished filtering and headed on, keeping my eyes out for the post. I didn’t see one! What were they talking about? Then, I spotted a cooler and my eye caught a red candy wrapper hanging from some twine on an evergreen tree! I found the candy! My spirits lifted. I sat down and decided to eat something. I thought about posting a picture of the hanging candy. “Here, in Oregon, candy grows from the trees!”.
As I headed on, starting the next 2,00 foot climb, I checked my phone again and let Checka know that I had bought a ticket home! She wanted me to promise her that I would make finishing the trail my priority.
All day, as I hiked, as much as I knew better, it was hard to get the words from my college friend out of my head. They kept replaying again and again as I continued going over them in attempt to make some sense from them. They were really gnawing at me and bringing me down.
I made it to the top of the climb, crested the ridge and then headed down the other side. All of a sudden, I spotted another hiker ahead of me on a switchback below. Where did he come from? Within a few minutes, I realized that it was Puma! I had not seen him since I walked by his tent on the night that my sleeping pad had blown away before Mojave! I watched as he stopped to gaze out on our incredible surroundings with a serene smile on his face. Hiking looked like such an easy and pleasant activity for him! He had his travel guitar slung around his neck. Occasionally, he would take a picture, just as I was doing. At one point, he looked up and acknowledged me, but did not seem to recognize me.
He remained ahead of me as we entered another zone of ripe huckleberries. We both seemed to stop at the same times to eat a handful now and then. When I stopped to take a short break, he zoomed on ahead. My intestines were still acting up. Baxter’s prescription only consisted of 6 pills and I had already taken two of them. I hoped they would kick in soon!
As I saw my first glimpse of the water, I heard a lot of noise from a group of people! They were definitely not thru-hikers. They seemed to be banging on their pots and talking extremely loudly! I continued to walk around the water, aiming to camp in the woods on the other side. Before I got there, someone called out my name. It was Connie! I told her I thought she would be there! She was already set up in her tent and looked nice and relaxed. Another tent with two people inside was set up beside her. She introduced me to Midnight Chocolate and Cowgirl. I said “I know you! We met on the climb out of Scissors Crossing!”. They asked me my name and didn’t seem to remember me. Then, one of them asked me if I had been wearing a gray skirt. They said they didn’t know my name was Wendy.
I went to find a place to set up my camp, as the sun was already very low. Everyone agreed that it was unlikely to rain, so I didn’t set up my tent. After I started soaking my pasta, I brought my guidebook pages and maps over to Connie. She told me that she had met Tumbleweed and the girls at the Big Lake Youth Camp, and they had helped her out. She was invited to camp with the girls last night and decided to hike with them for awhile, as they now had their dogs with them, and were doing lower miles because of that. I told her that I knew the thruhikers would help her out!
It was really good to see her again. Unfortunately, it was just about dark and I had to return to my sleeping bag to clean up and get ready for bed. The girls planned on getting up fairly early in the morning.