They were hungry and thirsty; their spirits languished within them. Psalm 107: 5
I was driving a young patient down from camp on his first day along with his Dad. AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) we call it. They had not acclimated to being at just over 6,000 ft having come from the ‘lowlands’ of California. When I picked him up, he was curled up asleep on a mat on the back country camp office porch. He even slept on the way back to Base Camp – with my driving! I knew he was sick.
Dad asked about the Infirmary, what to expect when we got back to Base and about the common illnesses and such that the Infirmary takes care of. Sprained ankles often, breathing problems at these high altitudes, and especially for those of us ‘of riper age’ as the Prayer Book used to say. Plus nausea, stomach issues, dehydration, fatigue, unpreparedness for the exertion, sometimes allergic issues with the food, and sometimes (I didn’t tell Dad this) “The Philmont Plague” which often comes when mountain hygiene and cooking don’t mix well. Happens every year and will pass through a Camp or several.
One of the common things that comes to mind today with this passage from today’s Psalm is water. I’ve mentioned the dehydration part before – how much water evaporates from your body in this dry heat and your physical exertion. Keep your outflow “clear and copious’ is our motto. If it’s not, you haven’t been drinking enough.
But it goes beyond that. Forgive me, Troop One, but they have several days of no source of potable (clean and clear) water. So they have had to carry two 5-gallon pouches of water with them along the trek. Can you imagine how much 5 gallons, let alone 2 of them – ten gallons – of water weigh with all your other gear. Little did they know and little had they been told ahead of time.
There are a lot of streams and creeks (here they call the ‘rivers,’ but we in the Northeast know better – they’re streams!) And when getting water from them – which fortunately this year are running well since we’ve had a lot of rain – there is still the concern for sanitary, drinkable water. So they are required to treat their water supplies with “Micro Pure,” or special filters with which every backpacker is familiar.
And if you don’t – stomach and bowel issues. A few days ago in our Daily Office readings, Jesus talks about the goings in and goings out of the body. I love it when Jesus is “down and dirty” and uses clear imagery to make his point. St. Paul does the same thing today in his exhortation to the new Christians at the Roman city of Colosae (Colossians 3: 1-11)
It is clear message for all of us who don’t hydrate enough, and drink too much caffeine, ‘energy drinks,’ alcohol or just don’t drink enough period. Our bodies, if I remember clearly God brought forth out of the celestial waters and are 90% water. But we lose what God has given us. Our message here at Philmont is “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate” – we even preach that at Chapel services. And the message goes to all. “Hydrate, hyrdate, hydrate!”