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Two Dragons welcome the sunrise with an improvised dance atop the Andes. Photo by Ryan Gasper.

My First Trek

Have you ever been in the backcountry, without the urge to use the bathroom for a week?

I have and let me explain how it all began.

It all started when we prepared for our first major trek up into the glaciares of Ausangante. The altitude sickness on top of the new exotic food began to brew in my stomach, already my body wasnt feeling too hot, but I had no clue. At this point I was about 6 meals deep and ready for breakfast. After a hearty meal we all jumped into the back of a truck and started our ascent to the base of the mountain. We had finally reached our first camp site and I couldnt wait to unpack and crash. Upon our first actual day of trecking from base camp, I felt great. But about half way through the climb I began to feel sharp pains in my stomach and was convinced appendicitis had just gotten the best of me. I gave my pack to the horse and contined to walk behind the rest of the group.

It wasn’t until we reached camp that I was at a complete loss of what to do. My body was not going to let me continue. My stomach was full of about 4 days of food on top of a couple laxitives here and there. Nothing seemed to be doing the trick, not even the leg lifts Jeff was teaching me. I tried to sleep it off but in the morning I couldn’t have felt worse. It was at this point that I was given the rest of the day to try and go, but if not I had to be evacuated off the mountain. I began walking and about 30 minutes when I caved into the pain and rode on a horse for the rest of the afternoon. It quickly became clear to the instructors and myself that I needed a bit of medical attention. So I grabbed my bags and back on the horse I went. Joining me was another student who wasn’t feeling his best either. Awaiting for us was a taxi that was prepared to drive us all the way to Cusco to receive the doctors touch. We arrived pretty late in the evening and I never would have imagined that not going to the bathroom for 5 days could ever cause me this much pain. After a quick evaluation in the emergency section I was told that I may have appendicitis and would have to be removed from the trip to get surgery back home. I have never been so scared and so worried that everything I looked forward to for the next two and a half months could all end that night. I proceeded to get an ultra sound with Sandy and Dane close by for moral support. When the doctor whipped around in his chair and told me I had an intestinal infection, I was overcome with probably too much joy.

I spent the next couple days pushing myself to the limits, until it finally hit me on day 7, wow I was releived.

I hope everyone has learned something from my short story, I know I have.

Sidney Wright