Mountain Fever

There’s a bug going around my town. Almost everyone I know seems to be catching it, myself included. It starts out pretty gentle and slowly grows to consume huge amounts of one’s time, energy, and focus. In the beginning, it’s nothing more than a desire to get out and run or hike a few of the local trails, but slowly the established trails aren’t enough, and you only find full satisfaction when you get off trail and check out places that you’ve never been before.

I’ve been fighting off this bug for a few years now. When I leave Juneau and head to Colorado for the winter it seems to lessen in severity. I think having fewer places available where I can get off the beaten path seems to decrease my need/desire to do so. Each spring though, when I return to Juneau, the bug seems to come back stronger than before. This season it seems to have doubled or tripled in severity. I don’t consider a run a “long run” anymore unless I am out for 7+ hours, and almost every time I do this, I seek out places to go that I have never been before. This is starting to take me to some amazingly remote, wild, and secluded places. On my 9+ hour outing today, I spent the middle six hours in a valley that I had never been in before, that few people have ever been in before. I saw numerous signs of wildlife, including wolverine, bear, wolf, marmot, and mountain goat. I did not see signs of any humans having ever been there before.

All told, I have done about seven or eight of these outings in the last month, and it doesn’t feel like enough. The bug seems to be hitting stronger and stronger every day. They say that misery loves company, and I feel like this bug is spreading quicker and stronger than ever before. In the past, my options have been quite limited in terms of potential partners to try to get to join me on these outings. Now though, it seems like almost no one ever says no. It has risen to near epidemic proportions. When I recently put in a 42-hour week of running in the mountains, a friend of mine here put in more than 33 of those with me. He could hardly walk by the end of it, but overall his body seems to be handling this bug just fine. Beyond this, the mountains around here seem to be crawling with people who are just starting to come down with a little something. On one recent heavy bout with the bug, when the weather was warm and sunny for three straight days, there were people out spreading the bug around everywhere.

One of the craziest things about this illness is that coming in contact with anyone who has it seems to elevate your symptoms, even if you’ve had it yourself for quite some time. Seeing people out on four or five-hour mountain runs, who don’t even consider themselves to be “runners” has a way of making me even more excited to get out each day.

I think at some point I need to find a bit of a cure for this disease, but right now I only see myself getting more and more “sick” in the weeks to come. I hope some of you are having the same bug going around this summer. If so, just don’t forget to eat, sleep, and drink lots of fluids.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)
What strain of trail fever do you have? Is it getting worse? Who did you catch it from and are you spreading it?