Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 8 - The Peak Of the Trip

I stood there in the soaking rain, thinking I was very glad that I brought the waterproof cover for my backpack. Paul scoffed at such a thing, but I had noticed that every backpacker in Scotland had one, and those people know about rain. What they don't know about, is raining when it's hot. I stood there in the woods with steam coming off my clothes as the rain subsided a bit. Paul and I were laughing together, not the good kind of laughing, but the 'what else can go wrong?' kind of laughing. We, or should I say Paul had everything planned out perfectly. The weather app was saying rain at 2pm, so we just had to make it near the top of the mountain before then. We knew that we had a pretty much straight uphill day in front of us, so we were pumped up on protein bars and caffeine. The weather folks were a little bit off and we were drenched before 11am, and were nowhere near halfway up the mountain. We met many other hikers on the way and it was during this time that I first heard about Glasgow (a small hamlet in Virginia, not the large city in Scotland) and the campground. People on the trail love to share stories and for me this one was like the 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' was to hobos in the past. If we could just climb the mountain and get down the other side, Glasgow was waiting with hot showers, pizza, and probably, free table massage  for those that needed there was anybody that didn't need a massage after this hiking stuff. The stories we heard from backpackers coming the other direction were glorious. Paul said that Glasgow was too far off the trail, but he didn't know about the drivers that would come pick you up for free. All we had to do was to make it to the top of the mountain, camp one night and then there would be pizza for breakfast, perhaps with some ice cream after, or maybe before...your brain just starts freewheeling while on the trail and mine was spinning like a hamster in an exercise cage.
We were moving pretty good, considering but soon I heard a sound I hadn't heard this whole trip, somebody coming up behind us. It was a guy traveling alone, he was in his 30's, a tall thin guy that didn't look tired or even wet. We spoke for a bit and he wondered if we were heading to the shelter on top of the mountain. We affirmed that and told him about the family ahead of us. Instead of hiking with us and telling stories, he took off like a rabbit for the top of that mountain, to stake his claim in the shelter.
I fumed for hours about where we were going to camp at the top, and if we were going to be setting up tents in the rain. Paul was still not worried, and proclaimed he had seen 8 people squeezed into a 4 person shelter. I was trying not to imagine a night of 8 wet, stinky strangers crammed into a small, open rickety building. I was feeling a lot of gloom and doom, but even my darkest pessimism did not prepare me for what I encountered at the top. Tents everywhere, there must have been over 40 people camping there, a crowd around the shelter and people as far as I could see in the woods in all directions. A through hiker was standing there on the trail to greet us and informed me that through some strange coincidence, 2 separate Boy Scout Troops decided to camp here on the same night. Sure enough, 4 tough-looking backpackers were guarding their base in the shelter....and our skinny guy was one of them. The family was spread out with 3 tents in one of the only flat places I could see. I quickly asked the through hiker guy if he had seen any stealth spots on the downward side of the mountain, and he said there was nothing before Glasgow, and it was already getting dark....I turned back to grab Paul by the neck, but he was already off in the tick-infested woods, looking for a flat spot with few rocks and roots....yeah, this trip was turning out to be a lot of fun, the kind of fun you cannot imagine while standing in an REI store, looking at backpacking gear, when everything is nice and shiny, and the air conditioning is running full blast...and somehow there is always a photo of a tent pitched near a fantastic view...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 7 - It's A Long Way To The Top When It's Raining

I poked my nose out of my sleeping bag and took a quick glance out of the shelter and drew a sigh of relief. Our food bag was still hanging from a tree as we left it the night before. For some strange reason, I'd never thought to worry about raccoons and rats eating up all of our food and us slowly starving to death in the least until last night. I'm not sure if it was from stories told around fire circle or what, but I had become deeply attuned to the fact that we needed food and water...a lot of it, and something stupid like a twisted ankle or rats getting our food could be a really big deal. But, the food was still there, probably because of Paul's home built contraption that kind of reminded me of things we do with bird feeders to keep the squirrels off them. Only the ones I made were never good enough to keep the squirrels out.
I was now fully awake and saw that we really had it made at this place, a shelter to ourselves, right next to a stream that supplied the kind of noise all night that really helped you sleep. I was feeling pretty good about the trip at this point, not having any idea that this was the last good night for a long time. It was nice and cool in the early morning twilight, just standing there drinking my coffee and considering the possibility that it would stay this nice while we hiked up the mountain. I knew we had a long trek this day and we had to carry a lot of water. The big hope was when we reached the top, the shelter would either be empty or populated by friendly backpackers with great stories to share.
Paul woke up feeling good as well, and we were high spirited as we crossed the stream and started the ascent. One thing I noticed this trip, the rain was doing something wonderful for the vegetation. There were so many flowers blooming everywhere that it put the best gardening work I'd seen in a fancy neighborhood to shame. The humidity was more like Florida than what I had hoped for, but if there was one thing I really wasn't happy about, it was snakes. I ran across at least 4 in that one day, and what bothered me the most is that I usually didn't see them until I was almost standing on them...and by then I was looking for snakes! I'm sure they were all wonderful non-poisonous species that are great for the environment, but there must be a good reason for the instinctive reaction to scream like a little girl and try to climb the nearest tree whenever I see one. I have a feeling that snakes can climb trees no problem at all, but that is the first move I make. I was so busy looking for snakes on the ground that I almost missed a deer that was standing right near us at one point. She was like a duck at the local park, she was busy eating and when we got too close, she moved about five feet away, no more. Yeah, the snakes were the same way. None of that "they are just as afraid of you", they'd barely give an inch to let you get by. I was definitely getting that 'welcome to Virginia, now go home' vibe from the animals in the woods.

After what seemed like a really long hot hike, we came to a big clearing in the woods, and you could easily tell that many people had come here before us. Logs were set out for sitting and a young family was there ahead of us, filling up their water containers from the nearby spring. We spoke for a bit about the pros and cons of our different filtering systems, Paul and I deciding that we needed something that worked better than our Sawyer filters which seemed to take forever to filter the water. After they left, Paul and I started thinking about where they were heading and just how crowded was that shelter going to be.
Right about now, you might be wondering why anybody would want to sleep in one of those creepy old shelters when we were carrying expensive tents on our backs. The reason is simple: rain. No tent handles rain perfectly, and if it rains hard, your stuff gets wet. No matter what, you would be packing up a wet tent in the morning...but if you had a shelter, you had it made, everything stayed dry. The only problem was, everybody on the trail was thinking the exact same thing.
I was doing the math in my head, but Paul was way ahead of me saying, "Don't worry, they will make room for us if it's raining" and then goes into a long story about people getting kicked out of a shelter while it was still raining because they had been there too long....I wasn't sure what part of that story was meant to be reassuring, but it wasn't working for me. It was only lunchtime, and I was already getting the images of being on top of a mountain without a place to sleep, while thunder and lightning cracked all around. And there it was, another day of worrying about the near future...only this was real stuff, like survival as opposed to worrying about who my new boss might be.
As we were leaving the clearing, I had my first and only accidental trail magic episode! I've lost things, but never found anything useful before. There right in front of me was a tiny flashlight, a keychain sized thing, a little LED thingy that ran on a watch battery. Something that I didn't need, but I picked it up just in case....

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 6 - Half Magic

"I carried two liters of water for him, and he didn't even know my name!"...that is not the kind of conversation you hear in everyday life, but sitting around the cold firepit that evening, he had everyone nodding their heads in agreement. There was little worse than the one-sided friendship that sometimes became the norm in the woods. Another young grizzled guy was massaging his bare foot and saying that he was strong everywhere but in the one place that really counted. There were new shoes waiting for him in the next town, and he had high hopes that would solve his sore feet for good. I learned about making 'cowboy coffee' and using a really long spoon for dipping food out of the freezer bags. Stories abounded about the hikers ahead of the group and those lagging behind. Everyone was talking about zero days and nero days. It started sounding to me that these lovers of nature liked the town stops as much as I did. The town of Glasgow was mentioned frequently. It was nothing more than a dot on a map of Virginia, and Paul had noted that it was 5 miles off the trail, much too far to walk for a shower and some real food. What Paul had neglected to mention or didn't know, was that the town of Glasgow would gladly pick you up at the trail, take you to town and bring you back for free...not only that, they had a free shelter in town where you could spend the night. You could get food, and a shower was only $5. You might wonder why a small town would be so generous, but that would be because you've never witnessed what happens when a backpacker hits town. They may look homeless to you if you saw them walking down the highway, but they have credit cards and are ready to use them. They like high volumes of carbs and expensive super-lightweight stuff for their packs. It would be nothing to see one of these straggly guys walk into an outfitter store and drop $200 on a pair of shoes, or $300 on a lighter sleeping bag. This is kind of stuff that small town dreams are made of. I'd never heard of Glasgow before this trip, but by this day, the trail grapevine was beating big drums for the town and I was already planning on what I was going to buy when we got there, but Paul was having none of it, because it wasn't "part of the plan".
We spent the day hiking, having great conversation about how we needed to make up time, and get to the next shelter that Paul excruciatingly set up for us. Me, I was thinking way more about what kind of burger I was going to get in Glasgow. I was starting to sound like that guy in Forrest Gump: Mushroom burger, Cheese burger, Cheeseburger with mushrooms, Bacon Burger, etc.  Although Paul was hanging tough on sticking to the plan, it was more than the weather going against him. He was getting cryptic messages from home, and I would more than a few times hear him mutter, "Now, what is that supposed to mean?" I began to see how, with Paul this distracted, that I might actually get us off the trail and get a shower and a fantastic meal, fast food of the gods, was how I was seeing it. It was not the best thing to do, starting to fixate on food I could not have, while deep in the woods, because it was a short trip from that to thinking about trail magic. If you have followed me before, you know that trail magic is stuff left on the trail by people known as trail angels. Like other times, when groups of hikers got together around a fire pit, there would be stories of almost impossible magic. A guy that had a stove in the woods, and was cooking up steaks for anybody that came by. A truck that stopped by a trailhead and everyone that came out from the trail got a beer or softdrink. For some reason, the craziest one to me was the story about an ice chest that contained ice cream. I started drooling while the guy was telling the story, and it never quite left me, my brain easily sweeping aside any objection that ice cream would not last long in an ice chest. These thoughts kept me moving up the mountain, knowing that a day ahead of us was the wonderous town of Glasgow, where rides were free, showers were available and there was a pizza place right next to the shelter. Part of me was recalling what the storyteller has warned: "It's a Trap!"

I paid that part no mind, and kept going, thinking the best part of the hiking was when it stopped, and there it was right in front of me: a small gravel road crossing, and a old horse fence on the side of the road. Right there, miles from civilization, there was a soft Yeti cooler just sitting there...I keep telling myself that it could not possibly contain a Dreamcicle, but I wasn't really that picky, even if it was nothing but one of those nutty little ice cream cones, that would be fine, as I stumbled forward to get there before Paul saw the ice chest.
I opened it with my heart pounding and suddenly realized it had nothing but trash cream bar trash.
"Well, I don't really like that processed stuff anyway", Paul said as he walked up..."It hurts my stomach"....slowly I turned.... 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 5 - Chasing The Girl

I woke up early one morning, and the most surprising part was that I realized that I must have fallen asleep. It was almost possible that I was adapting to the environment of stickiness by laying on top of my mattress with my sleeping bag nearby, just in case I got cold. I was almost comfortable, pretty sure that no ticks had made it into the tent that night, or if they had, they were already well-hidden and sucking contentedly on my blood while it lasted. I felt good and awake, realizing what woke me was all of the other campers Packing up. I got out of the tent and saw that perhaps 1/2 of the hikers were already heading out. All of them seemed to be in the tent area and no one had slept in the shelter at all. That surprised me at the time, and it wasn't until later that I learned why; it was haunted. Meanwhile, the person that was calling this the worst trip ever, was still snoring away in his tent. Paul had found the solitary happy place for him on the trail, and that was sleeping in. I think I finally got him going around 8:30 and the only other person left was Popeye, who seemed to be in no particular hurry. For a through-hiker, he was the most laid back guy I'd met. I kept thinking that there must be a real mess somewhere that this life was preferable to. It turned out that Popeye was a very good friend to have around. He talked to people and they liked telling him stuff. For instance, that the shelter was haunted by the ghost of Ottie Cline Powell, a 5 year-old that got lost in the woods back in the late 1800's. I never did get a clear picture of how a 5 year-old happened to be up here on the mountain. Things must have been quite different back then. Popeye also had some special 'trail-grapevine' information: There was a copperhead snake laying in wait for anybody that decided to sit on the step on the concrete block on the mountain view at the top. I thought that was a joke, and then I read the same thing on the trail app on my phone, and multiple people we met on the trail warned us as well. Sure enough, I spotted the snake right away when we got there, well right away, after another guy pointed at was I to know that copperhead snakes were not copper-colored?

The day was full of meeting interesting people on the trail, and beautiful overlooks, and sticky, hot weather. The good part of the day was the people. I can still remember coming across this very attractive young girl with bright red hair and a flouncy hat. She was moving fast, and I almost thought she was a mirage, because it's hard to look that good when the conditions were like this and we were so deep in the woods. The thought that went through my head was something like this: "She looked that good after hiking hard for 10 miles and it's not even lunchtime?!" I remember reflecting on that and then running into a young guy an hour later, about her age. I said "Man, there is a quite attractive redhead up in front of you..", he  replied, "I know, I've been following her for 200 miles!". I thought right then, that is how natural selection works....if he can't keep up with her, he's not her type. It got more interesting another hour after that when we met a young woman on the trail, and she asked if we had seen a young redhead that she was trying to catch up with...I would love to hear what happened at the end of the journey, but it was enough to be able to say 'hey, I'm an old guy, nobody expects me to be fast'. I started to realize that in these groups of highly motivated young people, there were some that weren't having as much fun, like the French guy from the day before. I thought for sure, the worst place to be was the guy that said to his girl, "Sure, I'll backpack the AT with you, how hard can it be if a girl can do it?" Yeah, I would not want to be that guy, because in couples, almost always, the one that was happy and up for anything was the girl. 

This trip I saw more groups of people that were hiking in support of a person that was doing the whole hike. We stopped at one overlook and were joined by a group of 3 girls and a guy. The leader looked like the captain of the women's pro soccer team and her friends that joined her for the weekend looked like the people I played with in high school band. More of her group arrived soon after, including one bigger person that looked like she was ready to have a heart attack at age 18. I was reminded right then, that I was very happy to be doing this now and not when I was young. I was not really into big endurance hiking back then and could suddenly remember my dad getting us to climb Mount Addams and having little old ladies pass us on the way. Now, all I had to do was keep up with Paul...and make sure that he didn't run out of cigarettes....

Friday, June 8, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 4 - In Which We Find Where Bugs Go On Vacation

There are times on the trail where you meet somebody coming the other way and stop to chat for a moment or two. This is common, but what you cannot quite get from the reading or watching in a movie or video, is how we know how long the person has been out on the trail...they go on and we say 'whew! That's, a through hiker!' You smell bad out there, and it's not just homeless-looking guys with large beards. The women that look like your school teacher back in elementary school, or a hot-looking young girl, they all get the smell, and what is worse is that you can smell it on yourself. We were going for 7 days out on the trail without going into town, and by the third day, we could easily be mistaken for 'professionals!' 
Part of our ultra-light packing methodology was to only take 2 sets of clothes, 1 to hike in and 1 to sleep in at night. When we stopped for the night, I'd try to wipe down with a washcloth, stand my hiking clothes up in a corner in front of the tent to ward off bears, and put on my shorts and shirt for sleeping. Unfortunately, by the 3rd day that washcloth smelled so bad that it about knocked me out when I got it near my face. No amount of swishing it in a stream seemed to help. You are probably wondering why we didn't just jump in the creeks we came across. Well as sticky and miserable as we were, we are still from Florida and 30 degree water is just plain too cold to jump in, I tried but without waves and a wetsuit and a surfboard, I wasn't going in cold water.
Normally, when we stop for the day, the last thing I wanted to do was to get in a small tent and just lay there for over 12 hours, wishing I could fall asleep but this trip had a new wrinkle: bugs were everywhere. You could not put your foot on a rock without having a large black ant crawl over to establish his ownership of the new piece of flesh in his territory. Apparently, the rains had brought on a population surge of everything that had an exoskeleton. The only way to truly avoid them was to get in the tent and zip up the mosquito netting. To make things a little more interesting, Pam had started texting me about ticks and Lyme disease, and how the governor of Virginia had declared a state emergency. I got this message while hiking through some tall wet grass on the trail. She also told me to make sure that I didn't get bit by a female tick, because 50% of them carried Lyme disease. I never did figure out how to tell which ones were female and
I'm not certain that my skin ever really stopped crawling until I got home. I did find a tick on my leg once and then went around asking everyone for the guaranteed way to remove a tick without leaving the head in your skin, it getting infected and then Paul having to amputate my leg on the trail while I bit down on a stick....yes, I had some more sleepless nights after that.
There was one night in particular that I won't forget. I was wedged into my tent before it was even dark. We were tired and I was sick of having insects on everything I owned. I lay back with my arms behind my head while I listened to a conversation between two campers near me. They were an interesting couple. They pretty much spoke only in French, although the girl did speak English to a young guy walking by that I would say fit the typical description of the kind of guy a hiker girl would fall in love with, skinny, big black beard, and some kind of skullcap that looked like it should be worn by a guy with dreadlocks. Before I got into my tent, I got a good look over there and the girl was sitting outside the tent, while her guy was inside. I didn't need to understand the words to get the meaning. The guy was speaking in a high whiny voice and the girl would reply in short guttural retorts. I imagine she was telling him she needed a real man on this trip, not some snively little thing that was hiding in his tent. 
Meanwhile, I lay back thinking that I was fine with Paul on this trip. He was down at the shelter, swapping stories with the other guys that were hanging out. Popeye was there, and about 4 other guys that had plenty to say about the soggy conditions and the crowded shelters. I had been down there for a while, but I started getting that feeling that every little black speck I saw on my leg was another tick crawling up for the homeland.
So, I lay back in my tent, quite content to listen to the French girl telling her guy to 'man up', while I enjoyed the one place in the world that was without bugs....except, that eventually I realized that there was one little black thing inside the tent at the top, and then I slowly noticed that it had those funny legs, and was starting to move down the side. I quickly stuffed my hand in my mouth so French girl wouldn't have one more sissy boy to mock, and then bravely grabbed the tick and smashed him to death on the floor of the tent. But, not unlike the Terminator, one leg started moving and then another and he started moving towards me. This time I smashed him with my flashlight, giving it everything I had, knowing that nothing could survive my 195lbs that I put into it. Then one leg started moving and another. I finally pinched him between my fingers and tossed him out of the night..spending the rest of the night half awake, waiting for the zipper to start to move...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 3: The Backpacking President with a skirt

There was actually a hero in the watery, insect-filled, trail of mud that we took for a vacation recently. In Paul's history of hiking, this one went down as one of the major mishaps in his book of hiking stories, but there were was a silver lining and it was the people we met, one in particular. We actually met this person on our very first night and though I find it striking that he was wearing a kilt, that wasn't the craziest part, it was that he was almost a clone of someone I had known for years...
There is something intriguing to me concerning the subject of dopplegangers, or the twin that is not a twin. It's pretty easy to surmise that our brains are lazy and if we see something that is close enough, we call it a match. Stereotyping is based on that, and I can well remember how it went when I first shaved my head at age 40. I went from the balding middle-aged guy that didn't have the right look to be in a band, to something dangerous that made women either love me or clutch their purse tightly while they crossed the street to add a little distance between us. All it took was cutting off the very little bit of hair I had left. I can still remember my daughter telling me to quit smiling so much because it spoiled the effect. She enjoyed bringing new boyfriends by and telling them they had better be nice to her, because she wasn't sure she could control her dad. Even though I worked as a librarian, people were thinking, "looks like a skinhead to me!" Flash forward a few years and I had my very first eerie meeting with the ghostly near twin of my wife. Later, I was to find a good explanation for it all, but at the time, I really thought I had entered the Twilight Zone. There was a young woman I saw at my new job, that looked exactly like Pam did at 20 years old! She was in her 30's and my very first thought was I had travelled through another dimension and was seeing Pam as if she had decided to party on instead of going to college and becoming a teacher. This young woman was so close to Pam's look that I really thought I was losing it. I knew that when Pam was in her 30's we had kids, she had short hair, and we were living the normal picket fence, 2 kids and a dog life. This woman was the 18 year-old Pam gotten older, still with the long hair and the desire to out on the town every night. What I found out much later, was this woman's love, was the 70's. Her hair, her clothes, her jewelry, all of it, evoked that time we had back in college. Once I got to know her, that strange time-travel feeling went away, but I'll never forget that feeling of the world was tilting and I was no longer as sure of what reality was.
And here I was on the AT, looking at what was surely the President of the company at my old job. The nicest guy in the whole world. I never heard him utter a cross word in 17 years that I was there. He'd give you the shirt off his back, I'm sure of it. I often imagined that the bad things that happened at work were done by minions that were trying to please him. I could see him sitting on the throne while a minion approached with an object in his hand, and Garry saying "No! I said I want him to have Severance!...I did not want his severed head!"
To hear something bad about Garry would be worse than finding out the bad things Bill Cosby did. Sometimes you just have to believe in goodness, and I believed in him.

Then, there was this man in front of me, that for all purposes WAS Garry, with a backpack, a kilt, and he was telling me about his flip-flip Through hike. He spoke words that seemed Garry might say, in a voice that reminded me of Garry. Cultured, soft-spoken, self-effacing. It was as if anything good he did that he could be proud of, he saw as a happy accident. "I just happened to be working on a fish farm, when an old acquaintance approached me about a job in the islands, I thought, why not?" The stories seemed to have a bit of 'Forrest Gump' about them. He was involved in the coolest adventures, and they happened to the unlikeliest guy.

He was going to do the whole trail this year, and soon, his 21 year-old daughter would join him for a month. His wife was home, following his progress on a mapping service that had a GPS tracker on him. His trail name was Popeye, because of a sailors pendant that he wore.
This guy sounded like, and even acted like Garry might. Offering to share food (which is a big deal on the trail), stories, and introducing other friends...he was a man with many friends on the trail...little did I know 
that Popeye was to become a mainstay of our adventure..

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 2 - The Hurting Head

Waking up at 6am with a blaring headache was not the way I wanted this trip to go. The plan was promising at first, even with the hour-late plane flight, we made it out to the trail in no time. It is a very interesting change-up, going from an airport, a jet plane, a car, to suddenly, you are dropped off on a deserted two lane blacktop, at a little trail on the side of the road. There are less markings for these entrances than one might expect. It looks nothing like the ones most people see, with big parking lots, a giant sign telling you about bears and leaving trash behind. It just looks like somebody might have used the path to get to a fishing hole. We were pumped up, and ready for the hike, although I did have my misgivings about how much food I had packed. I needed food for 7-8 days, and was suddenly feeling that I might have been a little careless about measuring the helpings of food in my bags.
Homer, our shuttle driver, was a very interesting fellow to finally meet in person. He had taken his whole family and hiked the AT years ago, a feat which only backpackers can fully understand the depth of. I barely could get my kids to school on time, and I'm not at all certain I could have had them hike 1600 miles in the woods. Homer, told us he was now 76 years old and still running the trails. A trail runner is like a god to backpackers. These are people that are jogging up mountains in the time I might run the same distance around my neighborhood. The chance of tripping and falling and really being in trouble is there, plus the whole thing of 'how fit would you have to be to even do it?' Homer, looked more like an old Appalachian banjo player than some kind of super senior athlete, but I never doubted for a moment that he could do the things he claimed to do. He and his wife worked on the trails, keeping the weeds, leaves and fallen trees out of the way.

We hiked on from the road, feeling good and strong, knowing that we had an easy hike to our first destination. I had that 'I could do this all day!' feeling, hoping that it would last for a while. Somehow, I had hoped that the fresh mountain air would give me the uplift I had dreams about. Instead, the air felt like a nice morning in Florida, with a decent temperature if you didn't have the 90% humidity. We found our campsite near a bridge and a stream and settled in with our gear, nodding hello to the other campers, while I started wondering how I was going to cool down enough to sleep that night.
One little issue I forgot to handle was what to do if I got one of my rip-roaring migranes during the night. I've spent half my life dealing with this, and it usually comes after a climate change. I keep my Extra-Strength Excedrin handy, along with water and a little something to eat so I don't get the aspirin burn in my stomach. had been a while since I had gone backpacking and I forgot one little thing. All of our food was hanging up in a bearbag in a tree. When I woke with the headache, I lay there in the dark for at least an hour wondering which was worse: the headache or getting out there in the dark and taking down the foodbag? In the end, I decided on Excedrin on an empty stomach and that
worked good enough. 

After that, I made sure I had a sealed protein bar in my tent each night, but that was the only headache of the was not the only time I used the first-aid kit though....