*Warning: this post is 100% real and meant to show the other side of backpacking that happens all too often. This is the not so dreamy/majestic/glamorized side. Not the ‘highlight real’ that you see on social media. Please know that I am writing this up, because I find it hilarious……….now…….after the fact. Enjoy!
“I’m soo sorry Mary…..I just took our friendship to a whole new level”. Uttering these words to my friend Mary, 3 ½ miles into our first day on Catalina was not my plan for a great start to our adventure.
Mary and I started planning this trip a few months ago. I had always wanted to do the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT), but my husband had no interest in it. My friend/co-worker Mary decided to do the hike with me. We had never hiked together before, but I had the backpacking experience and Mary had hiking experience, plus she’s super fit.
Unfortunately for me, I got an infection right before the trip and had to get put on antibiotics. Not ideal, but better to find out before our trip, than have to end the trip early because I was sick.
The morning of our trip was a very early wake up and drive to San Pedro to catch the ferry. I get motion sickness easily, so I took a Dramamine and ate very little food. We got on the top deck facing forward and I did great on the ride over. We made it to Two Harbors where we decided to get some lunch. There is a little restaurant there and we got what we thought would be the easiest on our stomachs before starting a big hike. We both had the turkey sandwich. I also had a coke to give myself a bit of caffeine to counteract the Dramamine that was still in my system.
We were told the first 3 ½ miles were very hard, uphill climbing and to expect to go 1 mph during that portion. That information was 100% accurate. The Dramamine was still in my system, our packs are the heaviest on the first day, it’s hot and sunny, and I’m taking antibiotics. To say that I was having a hard time was an understatement. But Mary was very encouraging and we were making pretty decent time. 1.5 mph instead of the 1 we were planning on. There was a family just ahead of us (dad, mom, and 2 teen daughters) from Utah. They were also having a tough time making it up the steep roads and trail that wind their way over to Little Harbor.
That’s when it started. At first, I had a lot of burping, which I do when I hike. I think it is a combo of breathing through my mouth and drinking a lot of water. As long as I can burp out this bad feeling in my stomach, I’ll be just fine. But pretty soon, I start feeling the pains in my gut. I try to ignore them. Only a few more miles until we reach Little Harbor. I can make it. Thankfully, I am in the back and I try to pass a little gas to relieve the building pressure. Things are getting more and more uncomfortable, but I don’t say anything to Mary and just pray that it will go away. We meet up with the family from Utah as they are having a snack at a shaded picnic table at the top of the hill we had just climbed. They offer to let us sit, but there was no way that was going to happen for me. Luckily, Mary also turned down the invitation and we made our way across a long, exposed ridgeline.
There are no trees or tall shrubs in this area. It is high exposed ridgeline with only dry grass and cactus for miles. I prayed and prayed asking God to help me make it to the campground at Little Harbor. Then it hit me, if I try to pass gas one more time, it won’t be just gas. I am not sure why I said this, but I yell out to Mary, “SOS Mary, SOS Emergency, Emergency!” I stop and try to get my pack off as fast as possible. I’m trying to unstrap and unhook buckles that won’t come undone quick enough. “I’m going to crap my pants right now!!!” I am in a panic and cannot find my bathroom bag. Things are falling out of my pack all over the ground. Hurry, hurry!! Mary is dropping her pack and looking for her bag to give me. I am trying with everything I can to not poop my pants. I am still miles away from the campground. Mary finds hers and hands it to me. There is literally nowhere to go. I find a spot about 10 ft from Mary, off-trail, with not as much cactus, drop my drawers and take care of business. That is when I utter those words to Mary that I never thought I would say, “I’m soo sorry Mary…..I just took our friendship to a whole new level”.
Mary is being super nice and saying to me “It’s ok.” and being the lookout for anyone coming in either direction. We know that family is coming up behind us and honestly anyone could see me from a mile away. Mary is now telling me that what just happened to me was her biggest fear, and now that I got that out of the way, she has nothing to worry about. Haha! Guess I just cut through all the layers and got us to super close right off the bat. It would not be something that I would recommend others doing, but it’s one way of going about it.
As we headed off down the trail to Little Harbor, I felt soo much better and the rest of the miles flew by. We were able to have our cheap wine with dinner at our amazing campsite on the beach that night. We were able to laugh about my interesting way to start our hiking adventure. That is when we knew this trip was not going to be a boring, uneventful one. It was filled with highs and lows, foxes, and buffalo encounters. Strange nightmares that were eerily similar, seeing beautiful sunsets and sunrises, meeting interesting people (like the shirtless old guy on a bike with a GoPro on his helmet that biked to the airport to eat a cookie), almost getting lost (shirtless GoPro guy saved us), made a new friend (Maleen), trusting our instincts, being super hot in the exposed sun all day, fixing my broken flip flop with duct tape, climbing up crazy steep hills, rising to the challenges and conquering them, and at the end of the adventure, knowing that we have a friend in each other for life.