It's been a rough 24 hours. I started feeling sick around dinnertime last night and spent most of the night barely having time to unzip the tent before being racked with sickness again- 8 miles from the nearest road, 9 from the nearest hotel.
I was able to doze off around midnight and woke at 2 to the sound of a creature yowling in pain and rattling the bushes near our tent- we think it was a bobcat. We shone our headlamps and yelled and it eventually crashed off into the bushes.
At first light, we threw everything into our packs. Josh offered to let me keep sleeping but the day was already scorching hot and I was ready to be near a toilet.
After a grueling, exposed walk we exhaustedly made it to the hiker McDonald's, talk of the trail for the last 100 miles- what we would order, the birthday McFlurry I was anticipating.
I wandered in, hot and exhausted and sicker than I've ever been in my life, and no sooner had I splashed my face with water than two hiker's moms were offering Josh and I a lift up the mountain to the next town, where we could hole up for a couple days, I could celebrate my birthday, and saving us a huge 25 mile dry ascent while I was still sick and weak.
We hopped in their SUV and booked a room at the Cedar Lodge, which my parents generously paid for as a birthday gift. The folks that run this Lodge are amazing and genuinely concerned about my health- they couldn't get us in the room right away but let us sit in the lobby, use their bathrooms and wifi, and kept us in ice (a valuable commodity out here). We will take a full "zero" here so I can make a full recovery, at which point our trail fam should've caught back up to us. We may skip the 25 miles of trail altogether that we've missed so we can stay with them and saving us a tough hitch down the mountain, although we're feeling guilty about it.