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Old 07-16-2015, 09:15 AM   #43
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Years ago I was backpacking with a friend in the Sierra Mountains in California. I had done this many times all over the state. This time we decided to go cross country to save a few days with a more direct route. It was a lot of climbing in and out of canyons, meadows, and valleys ending up at our destination about 8500' in one day instead of 2 or 3. That night I started getting a major headache. I never get headaches, even with hangovers. By morning I couldn't lift my head up more than a few inches without severe debilitating headache. After two days of this, we had to head back. She packed up most everything and we started to head home. The headache was so bad, I could only walk about 15 to 20 feet before the pain forced me to stop and rest for a few minutes.
I had no idea what was going on. I had never heard of altitude sickness and thought maybe I was having an aneurysm or something.
After about an hour and only making maybe 100 yards or so, I had to stop. I just couldn't go any further. It was her first backpacking trip but I told her she had to go and get help. Pretty scary for her as it was at least two days to get back. We were sitting there going over the map and trail info when a couple of other backpackers came upon us. After explaining our situation, one them gave me 4 aspirin and continued on. After 30 minutes, it was like a miracle. The pain was completely gone and it was like it never happened. It wasn't until I got home that I found out I had altitude sickness. I've never had it since.

The ability to follow instructions is highly underrated.
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Old 07-17-2015, 10:35 AM   #44
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Dennis 4x4,
I agree re:O2 available in RV, and it's not a bad idea to have a small one in your SUV. When traveling in higher elevations, it has been helpful. BTW, your signature line reflects my philosophy.
"If you don't go first class, your heirs will!" With this in mind, I decided to trade in my tiny little T@B TT, and my 2012 Nissan Murano....and purchased a much more expensive, but, worth it to me....2015 Airstream BAMBI 16' Sport and a 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, fully loaded including factory tow package and every luxury item offered on it. I picked it end of April. "LOVE IT!" Travel On!!! HAPPY TRAILS, YA'LL!

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Old 07-17-2015, 11:31 AM   #45
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Old 07-17-2015, 01:07 PM   #46
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The Colorado native retired military health care administrator that worked mostly out of tents or a ruck sack likes the information here. | Altitude Sickness
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Old 07-19-2015, 10:27 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by nrgtrakr View Post
The Colorado native retired military health care administrator that worked mostly out of tents or a ruck sack likes the information here. | Altitude Sickness

nrgtrakr: Thank you for posting this invaluable information. Altitude sickness is no joke!

I backpack in the Sierra Nevada some times for up to two weeks in the wilderness mostly between 7,000 and 14,000 feet.
It has been my experience that altitude sickness is very unpredictable.
This time you may not be effected, next time can be entirely different.
The first 2 trips (May, June)this year 7,500' I had no issues at all, the last trip (mid July) same elevation I had a mild headache for 2 days.

I book marked the page and made copies for my hiking crew and will send the URL to my long distance associates who hike and bike the world.

P.S. also want to say thank you to Ray for another great topic of interest. I enjoy your writing immensely.

Thank again,
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:19 PM   #48
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Anytime ...

A few personal notes from experience.

Hydration is key, if your urine isn't clear drink water. Best way to benefit from drinking water is a swallow or two at 15 minute intervals (more or less). A pocket water filter can reduce how much water carried.

It takes about three months to completely acclimate.

Somewhere around 9,000 feet most people will get at least a little loopy. A friend of mine is a mountain guide and wilderness fire fighter, he says this is related to the physiological effect of the O2 concentration. So he watches the altimeter and strategically times rest stops.

I currently live at the west side base of the Sangre de Cristos (lots of 14s) at ~8,000 feet.
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Old 07-22-2015, 07:41 AM   #49
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Just returned from a trip to Utah & back. When camping at Timber Creek CG in Rocky Mountain National Park, elevation 9,000 feet, went to bed feeling great but woke up the next morning with a wicked case of altitude sickness. Told my wife I needed to get lower and as she was driving us downward I saw a sign for a hospital in Granby, CO. Said I need to go there. I was feeling so bad I wanted to see if there was anything else going on. Turns out that it was only altitude sickness and after a few hours of oxygen and an anti-nausea drug I felt fit as a fiddle. Went back to the CG and it was as if nothing had happened.

I know that I'm preaching to the choir a bit here, but altitude sickness can be quite stunning. I had had it once before, many years ago, but this was much worse. The only saving grace was that it was for a very short time.

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Old 07-22-2015, 09:20 AM   #50
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What a great topic!

Here is my experience.

First let me outline a bit about me:
38 years old
very active these days, but not fit. I walk the dog 2-5 miles a day, play soccer once or twice a week and cycle about a bit, mainly to the pub.
I eat and drink too much.

Back in 2005 when I was still living in London (sea level) I took my first snowboarding holiday to Pas Da La Casa in Andorra. I had just quit smoking. The town is at 2100m (~6300ft). We got off the bus, walked about 100ft with our bags and I thought I was going to die! Back then I was a fatter slob... It took me the whole week to adjust to the altitude and activity.

When I moved to the US in 2006 I struggled with the weekend trips from Portland to the ski resorts at Mt Hood. The parking lot at Mt Hood meadows is at about 6300ft. Walking from the car to the lift was exhausting! Some days I would get a little spun out, but these were just day trips.

In 2012 I spent a week in Telluride. Our cabin was in Mountain village and at about 10000ft. It took 3 days for my resting heart rate to get under 90bpm! After a few days of hiking and disc golf, we did a mountain bike ride on the 4th day, we topped out about about 11500ft, at the top I had to walk and stop for deep gasps of air! Fuzzy vision, hyper ventilating, dizzy, mild nausea. It was a very active holiday. When I got back to Portland I was probably the fittest I had been in over a decade! Playing soccer was a breeze.

2014 we took a trip to Hawaii, we drove to the top of Manua Kea. We stopped at the visitor center at 9500ft, they recommend you stop for 30 mins to acclimate, we took an hour to let the dizzy spell pass, then drove to the top, somewhere near 13000ft. When we got up there, we both had felt dizzy, light headed and definitely suffering from early signs of altitude sickness. We were only up there for a few hours, but when we got down we felt fine almost immediately. We of course drank a ton of water before driving up and while up there...

These days we spend a lot of time up at Mt hood. Generally I am good for 6-7000ft, anything higher and I need time to adjust, depending how how it can be a few hours or over night.

One thing to keep in mind, at high altitude the air is dry, really dry. When we stay about 6000ft I make sure we have access to a humidifier. You need to drink a lot more water then you do at sea level too.

In summary.

Altitude sickness is no joke. By the time you realize something is up, you are already in it. If you are not fit or not young, pack O2. Even if you are a pro athlete it is handy to have. Hydrate like you running a marathon too!
Mad Astrophysicist turned sales guy that works to fund his dirty snowbaording habbit, mwah-ha-ha . . .
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:22 AM   #51
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We are flat landers planning a trip to southwest Colorado later this summer. After reading the posts on altitude sickness I began to worry about DW and how she would react to the altitude. A quick search led me to Boost O2 at a pilot supply site. Anybody have any experience with this product? Sounds like it could come in handy.

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Old 07-23-2015, 04:47 PM   #52
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My recommendation, as a retired nurse, over 70, living in Colorado. When I leave the Denver metro area and travel above the 'mile high' of home, I carry OXegen, with nasal access. When you need it, you need to have it then, better than later.

I went to my MD and got a prescription, so that I have it to take on a trip. It goes with me in my SUV. Medicare will cover it if there is a medical need. It's worth checking.
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Old 07-24-2015, 01:03 AM   #53
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Really anyone that gets "sick" from 10,000 feet or less is out of shape or has an actual medical condition.
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Old 07-24-2015, 05:16 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by Zybane View Post
Really anyone that gets "sick" from 10,000 feet or less is out of shape or has an actual medical condition.

Is the human body really designed to live comfortably 2 miles in to the atmosphere?

I'm curious about why you say that. If you're an MD, you may have access to research and other professional information I would lack.

I've always thought the Denver Broncos had an unbeatable home field advantage as living and practicing at that altitude better prepared them for it, and then on the road, they must have even more stamina than their opposition (but I'm not a Dr. )

Please share more. Thanks.
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Old 07-24-2015, 10:54 AM   #55
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On a trip to the Peruvian Andes a few years ago, I saw a group of native teens playing soccer at12000 ft. I guess they lived there all their lives and had developed the lungs and red blood cells to do it.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:04 AM   #56
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