April 28, 2014

M.S. is Worse Than a 44 Mile Hike in 26 Hours

It's been a little over a week since I started my adventure.

I decided to sit down and write my impressions of my experience of a 44 mile 26 hour hike with 30 pounds strapped to my back, and connect it to M.S. (last paragraph). 

Yesterday, after hiking 44 miles in 26 hours, I felt nearly non existent. People would ask me questions; I could barely answer them, because I was extremely mentally and physically drained. Never in my life have I pushed my body that hard while carrying a 30 pound pack.

8 miles outside of Warner Springs, I developed a rash that covered both of my thighs. Not knowing what it was, I decided it would be in my best interest to get to the next town a.s.a.p. Here is a video of when I first discovered it:

This is what a 44 mile push felt like:

My body and brain wanted to stop, but I had to push myself, or I knew I wouldn't make it. I had to give myself something to look forward to, and that was Paradise Valley Cafe. I heard about a loaded "Jose burger" that seemed like heaven. My eye was on the goal, and I was getting there.
Not knowing if I was having an allergic reaction, I took a benadryl and put a typical steroid cream on the rash. Forgetting about the drowsy side effects of benadryl, I zombied my way down the trail. The heat of the sun was pounding on my body as I trudged through the dry, water sapping desert. With 6 miles left, there was a sign that said, "PCT hikers! Water, soda, hikerbox, 100 feet."THANK YOU TRAIL ANGELS!" So miraculous! The first 20 seconds of this clip is what I felt like: 

After the last grueling 6 mile stretch through the hot desert with absolutely no shade (just like the past 38 miles), I made it to Paradise Cafe. People started asking my name, which I now reply "Wiki Wiki" (trail name). They asked how I got it, and I couldn't remember "Gottawalk's" name because I was so drained. All I could say is sorry, I can't think right now.

"Gottawalk" (67) who gave me my trail name "Wiki Wiki" (quick in Hawaiian). She has hiked the PCT, CDT, AT, and American Discovery. She is a beast and I love it!

Happy to have my burger.

I devoured my hamburger and fries, and proceeded to ask for a plate of pie and ice cream. The next thing I heard was, "You better wake up and eat your ice cream." I jumped out of my dream and into reality. Did I really just fall asleep in a chair at a restaurant? There was music and loud conversations all around me. I felt exhausted, but the ice cream looked delicious! People around me laughed as I quickly finished every last drop of ice cream and pie.

 The next stop was a $3 camp site in "Idyllwild" with a $1, 5 minute shower. The best 5 minute shower of my life, even though I had one 2 days earlier. At 5pm, I crawled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I started laughing when I discovered 2 hamburgers laying next to me. I was so confused, but later found out that a hiker thought I'd be hungry, so he put those next to me. Kind of random and funny to wake up to 2 hamburgers laying next to me, but very thoughtful.

This mentally and physically draining experience made me think of people trying to deal with Multiple Sclerosis. We tend to have set expectations for our friends and family. People wanted me to talk more to them, but I couldn't. Thinking straight was a mental chore that I just didn't want to do. Walking was awful, my legs were numb, and it felt like more of a hobble, but I had to keep moving. Many people with Multiple Sclerosis have these symptoms 24/7 plus blurry vision, and more! Most of the time there is no break, no getting better, and no healing. They often say, "What is normal? I don't remember." Slowly degrading with these masked symptoms, keeps them pushing for a cure. Ya, sure, cures may be hard to come by, but... What if? What if you were part of the cure discovered for M.S? How amazing would that be? Medical break-throughs are only achieved by people passionate about the future of discovery.

I would appreciate all readers to comment how M.S. affects your life (even if you don't have it), and how important and beneficial a cure would be. Examples would be great! To do something about anything, we have to speak out, and make people aware. We have to increase understanding and drive. There's no point in being timid. Let's get out there!


I'm writing everything on a smart phone, so sorry for any typos or imperfections. :-)


  1. Way to go! It has taken me forever to figure out how to comment on your blog! Hopefully this works. I would be in heaven if I could eat hamburgers and pie and ice cream for every meal and not worry about the calories ;0) How is the heat rash? Great blog post!

  2. You are part of the cure! Glad it's just heat rash, and hope you're feeling better. Wish I lived nearby and could feed you hamburgers and juice pouches! Stay strong!

  3. Megan keep up the good work! My aunt passed away in 2012 from complication due to MS. Watching her deteriorate over the years was awful and humbling and very scary. Every time I get too tired or lose my balance I think "is this it? Do I have MS too?" Take each step on this hike with pride. Know that what you're doing has a purpose and there are random people out here cheering for you! ~Amy in Washington

  4. You guys are all so awesome! Thanks for the encouragement! It's always appreciated!

  5. Good Luck on the long walk. The looks of your pack at Southern Terminus made me cringe, and think "Oh Lord," but it looks like you've trimmed up a little. Rootin for ya. You will do just fine.