COVID-19 on the Appalachian Trail

Share this post

Last post it was Dang! Sick at Halfway. This post invokes much stronger language than dang. Turns out my stopped up nose is/was COVID-19.

This is my first time getting COVID. Or at least the first time that I know of—an estimated one third of COVID cases show no symptoms. Getting COVID for the first time while on the Appalachian Trail is surprising considering that before I started hiking the Calendar Year Triple Crown, I was IT support for mostly doctors and lawyers. They never shutdown during COVID. All those doctors seeing all those patients. All those medical professionals running around, touching body parts, getting samples, etc. And what do they do afterwards? Or even as they’re doing it? Touch their keyboard and mouse. And what do I do to fix their computer? Touch their keyboard and mouse. I am basically indirectly in contact with every single person who walks into every one of my clients’ offices.

Yet I didn’t get sick. Probably because I’m a germaphobe. Even before COVID, I already knew how disgusting keyboards and doorknobs and pretty much everything is. I was using hand sanitizer religiously long before COVID. When COVID lockdown started, everyone was scrambling to buy hand sanitizer, but it was sold out everywhere. No worries for me. I already had a four month supply. Literally four months even when using it dozens of times a day as I moved from computer to computer, office to office. I had multiple huge bottles and countless small ones everywhere. Yep. Germaphobe.

COVID Delirium

It took me hiking alone on a desolate trail in the wilderness to finally get COVID. OK, it was probably that jam-packed, live-music-hosting, St.-Patrick’s-Day-celebrating brewery where I got COVID and not the Appalachian Trail. But still, I have to think COVID was like, “Finally got him!” Here’s how I envision COVID finally infecting me.

COVID finally finds my door unlocked, waltzes in, and exclaims, “Ah ha! I finally got you, Bennett! I’ve been waiting years for this opportunity!”

My body responds, “Oh, hey, COVID. We were wondering if you’d ever show up.”

COVID looks around. “Jeez. This place is a dump! What the hell happened here?”

“Sorry. Bossman is hiking the AT. We don’t really have time to keep things tidy right now.”

COVID makes himself at home and starts rummaging through cabinets. “What do you have to eat around here?”

“I hope you like protein bars.”

“What? I hate protein bars. They’re disgusting. Everybody knows that.”

“Yeah, bossman keeps hoping someone will finally create one that tastes good. Keeps trying new brands, but they all taste like dry dog shit. Sometimes wet dog shit. Not sure which one is worse.”

“Why doesn’t he just buy Snickers? They’re practically the same nutritional value and actually taste good.”

“Because he’s a dumbass and forgot the last time he was at the grocery store.”

COVID opens a door. “What used to be in here?”

“That’s where his ass used to be.”

“What? His ass is missing? Where’d it go?”

“We don’t know. We just looked one day, and it was gone.”

“You’re telling me that amazing ass that graced the cover of the 2018 Texas Cavers Calendar just vanished?”

“Yep. Those 2018 Texas Cavers Calendar are going to become highly sought-after collector’s items. Last place to see Bennett’s amazing ass in all its beautiful, bountiful glory.”

“Man. This is all too much. I’m not sure I can stick around, guys.”

“It’s OK. We understand. Thanks for stopping by, COVID!”

That’s how I envision the exchange taking place. Or maybe that’s just the delirium of COVID talking? Is that a symptom? Delusions about how fantastic your ass used to look before you started hiking? No, my ass really did look amazing. That’s not a delusion; it’s a fact. See for yourself by purchasing one of the few remaining 2018 Texas Cavers Calendar. It’s out-of-print, and only limited quantities remain! Buy yours now!

Seriously, I do feel fine. I had a stopped up nose and subsequent sinus headache. Went to town and got some 12-hour Sudafed and picked up a COVID test because who knows? I didn’t want to take it right away and get a false negative because I took it too early. Plus, I was feeling great, hiking 20+ miles per day. At one of the parks along the trail, I was dumping my trash. Get rid the extra ounces. Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain. I decided to dump the COVID test, too, but I figured I might as well use it before I throw it away. After all, who doesn’t like shoving things up their nose, right? BAM! Positive for COVID.

WTF? I just hiked my fastest 24 mile day with COVID?

Fully Vaxed

I have had no symptoms other than a stopped up nose for two days. A little cough from the sinus drainage, but no “real” cough or sore throat. No fever. No fatigue. No muscle or body aches (not even from hiking—my body is long over that). No diarrhea. No nausea. No anything else.

By the way, yes, I am fully vaccinated with all the boosters. Last booster was two weeks before I hit the trail. Maybe that’s why I’m almost asymptomatic and not fatigued. I don’t know. But I do know that my dad was a big baby when he had COVID. Wrapped up in bed, all shivering and fatigued for weeks. Grow up, old man. This COVID stuff is easy.

I’ve still been hiking, but I’ve been avoiding people since I tested positive. Current guidelines for asymptomatic or mild COVID cases are to isolate for five days after the symptoms first appear, then wear a mask for an additional five days. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I had COVID in those first days. Once I did, I pulled off at the next town, which was day 8 since my nose was first stopped up. Turned down an offer from trail angel to stay at her place and stayed in a hotel instead. I don’t want to spread COVID, especially to trail angels and fellow hikers.

COVID at the Real Halfway

During all this, I crossed the official halfway marker. Note that my previous post was about the unofficial halfway, Harpers Ferry. This is the real halfway mark. I took a bunch of selfies there. Here’s what I look like with COVID. Suck it, Dad. You looked horrible when you had COVID. Not surprising because you look horrible without COVID, too.

Bennett Lee at the halfway marker for the Appalachian Trail.
Bennett Lee at the halfway marker for the Appalachian Trail.

Also, happy birthday, Dad! One year closer to when I get to stick you in the second worst nursing home in the state. Second worst so there’s always one more that I can threaten you with. “You think this place is bad? You should see the place down the road. That place is even worse. Don’t make me move you there! Now shut up and eat your jello. I don’t care if it’s crunchy and hurts your teeth.”

Sorry, COVID delirium kicking in again. Although, I don’t think that’s related to COVID. I’ve been dreaming about sticking my dad in the second worst nursing home for a very long time.

Love you, old man. Meh. Maybe that’s a little strong. More like, I tolerate your existence.

With love tolerance,
Your son

Quarry Gap Shelter

I’m going to leave you with photos from one shelter. Not the biggest, but still very impressive. So many hiker-friendly features. Even decorated with hanging potted flowers.

In the meantime, don’t worry about me. I’m still going strong. COVID hasn’t slowed me down. In fact, I’m doing better than ever before (which might also have something to do with the trail finally flattening out). I’ll be back on the trail today or tomorrow, pushing my way up to 30+ miles per day.

Share this post

5 Responses

    1. Just what I said. Cover photo. That long, luscious hair and beautiful, round butt are all me. Also, I’m Mr. April, too, with that deliciously hairy belly. Damn, I’m sexy. 🙂

  1. Hay Squeeze
    i was wondering what had u stop at Hamburg mid morning .. i was wondering if you had run into a trail closure from the super fund dumping fertilizer ,seed and soil in the mountains by plane .. Dif section from about where u are thru Little Gap (Blue Mtn Drive] , Wind Gap [Route 115 ] are being closed as they do this … not all closed at same time ..
    SoDuck might run into u around Lehigh Gap Area ,
    But now afraid of ur Covid [ i assist a 2 time cancer surviving Army veteran ] do not want to pass it on .
    i will have u sign my old big book as i am down sizing to a smaller note book .
    i Hope and pray u recover and suffer no serious side affects

    1. I had to stop in Hamburg to get food, new shoelaces, and permethrin. Latter is for ticks, which are already active due to the mild winter. Meta (another triple crowner ahead of me) was off trail 4 days from an infection possibly caused by a tick bite. I’d prefer to not get Lyme or any other tick-borne disease. Hence, the permethrin.

      As for COVID, I am long over it. Mild symptoms only 2-3 days. No apparent side effects. Plus, I took another COVID-19 test this morning, and it was negative. I suspect all the vaccines and boosters allowed my body to kick COVID’s ass fast.

  2. Glad U R doing well . Ticks are one of my biggest worries , Today Friday the 7th of April was the last scheduled day for planes dropping stuff on to trail ..So 1 less worry of a delay thru this Northern section of PA .. looks like u will make George W Outerbridge shelter or a hotel tonight . How was knife edge and how were the rocks in this section .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *