“It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” –Robert Service
I have posted a lot about driving at higher elevations and the effect it might have on things like the reserve gas on my roof but one thing I haven’t really discussed yet that’s been patiently waiting in the back of my mind is me. How will I react to spending 16 days at roughly 6-10,000 feet above what I’m used to? Delaware, on average sits around 72 feet above sea level – give or take depending on where you live in the state. I’ve spent a long time here, inhaling the chemical factories expunged air. I don’t suppose either one of those things add to the likelihood that I’ll just breeze up through the Rockies, set up camp, explore, and breeze on down.
One can take precautions for things like mechanical failures, simple first aid, getting lost, but what happens if you’re traveling solo and find yourself being put out of commission due just to where you are? Truth be told, outside of a pressurized airplane, I’ve never been over 10,000 feet, let alone, physically exerting myself on a trail trying to hike at 10,000 feet. Let’s take that a step further and say I do succumb to altitude sickness, decide that 10,000 is too high, and come down. The rest of my trip in Zion and Bryce can be anywhere from 3,000 to almost 9,000 feet themselves. This could really put me down for the count. This sea-faring kayaker is not used to hiking within the clouds. This is really the only thing I can’t predict, plan, or read my way out of. This is an unknown variable in my formula for a perfect trip.
Although it’s rare that minimal symptoms show until you hit 8,000 feet, for most people, I can’t help but think that I should have exercised more throughout the entire year. Altitude sickness, if severe enough, can lead to some pretty serious conditions, and if left untreated, death. This is not something to be taken lightly by anyone. I’ve known people that are in outstanding physical shape and have had altitude sickness stop them in their tracks, forcing a complete abandonment of their trip.
This, is my only real remaining concern.