Day 12 (zero day)
Today "embracing the suck" really sucked! As predicted the rains came around 9pm, & by 10pm it was coming down very hard with lots of lightening. About 11:30 a friend Chris ran up to my tent out of breath trying to yell at me over the rain & thunder. "Lucy is sick, she needs your help!"
In a dazed slumber I asked him to repeat himself. Two minutes later I had my sleeping bag packed in my trash compactor bag, had me rain gear on & laced my shoes. I opened my rain fly only to be slapped with the full fury of Mother Nature's wrath! I stood there for a couple of seconds to get my bearing since I could only see 10-20'.
The camp we were at was small so Lucy & Chris had to setup their tents 100 yards downhill in the woods. I knew the general direction of their tents, and stumbled through the woods looking desperately for Chris's headlamp. After a couple minutes of searching I made it to their tents.
When I got there, Chris had made some Gatorade & handed it to me as I entered Lucy's tent. There I saw poor Lucy shivering under her bag, dry heaving a into a ziplock bag. I quickly got my sleeping bag over her, took my rain cloths off & held her to preserve the heat. She said she had been vomiting uncontrollably, diarrhea, was shivering & breathing rapidly.
I yelled to Chris to see if he had any cell service, & could barely hear his "no" even though he was only 10' away. I checked & I didn't have any service either. I got Lucy to drink a bit of the Gatorade, but she said moving was making her feel nauseous. I laid there with her checking for service every 5 min. Then she popes up & had to go relieve herself in the driving cold rain.
She came back in wet & shivering, so we quickly got her back under both sleeping bags to warm back up. About that time I got one weak bar & I called 911, then the call disconnected before I could udder a single word. No service... I laid back down & held Lucy for 5 minutes before trying again.
Miraculously the bar came back & I quickly called 911 again. I could barely hear their voice & I told them I had a very weak signal & to just listen. I told them we needed an ambulance to the road just below Rock Gap Shelter, & said for them to look for someone on the road with a headlamp on. I gave them Lucy's age & symptoms, then asked if they got the info which they confirmed.
They said the ambulance would be there in 10-15 minutes, then the line went dead. No Service... I yelled to Chris to head down to the road in 5 minutes to flag down the ambulance, which he did. I then got my wet rain gear on, trying not to move Lucy. I told her to think of the critical things she would need (phone, insurance card, etc), but just to lay under the sleeping bags until help arrived.
About 15-20 min after my call a paramedic arrived, followed by the fire department & then the ambulance. As Lucy got dressed they took her vitals. Fortunately by that time Mother Nature took pity on us & dialed it back to a light drizzle. We carefully guided Lucy, whom was understandably a bit unsure on her feet through the wood 100 yards to the road. Before I left with the ambulance I asked Chris to work with our friend Connor to pack up Lucy & my things and bring them to town on the shuttle.
I also told him I would keep him up to date via text. Soon the ambulance was on a 15 minute journey to the hospital. While the Dr & nurse took care of Lucy, I filled out the paperwork. They gave Lucy some really good medication for the nausea & an IV for the dehydration.
Soon she was also drinking water, but was cold from the IV so we got her some more blankets. The Dr said she likely had caught Norovirus, which spreads easily amongst hikers. The prognosis was she would have to be off the trail a minimum of 3-5 days.
By 4am she was feeling better & was ready to be discharged. Angles Hospital helped us to find a room at a hotel, & even got the police to give us a ride to the hotel. When we got to the hotel Lucy took a shower & we finally laid down around 4:30am.
Later in the morning, I got Lucy a lite breakfast, Gatorade & some supplies. Lucy called & talked to her family, & decided to end her hike. I asked her to give it a day before she made her final decision. She said the decision was very clear to her, & after feeling a sick as she had ever been, & feeling very vulnerable & afraid.
I was happy that she was safe, but cried knowing that I was losing one of my trail family members.