Monday, July 11, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

I finally figured out that "Rocky Mountain high" is altitude sickness. Everyone staggers around like drunks once you get to about 12000 ft. It's hilarious. You can tell who the most devout Muslims and Mormons are because they don't have a clue how to look sober up here.

About 12500 ft up and a few miles into the park is the Alpine Visitors' Center. While I was there enjoying the view, an Irish family beelined to me to ask me to take their photo. They've been from NYC to Montana to Utah and now the top o' the Rockies with us, and about 30 elk and 3 marmots. Just so happens I was in Dublin this very time last year. More, I had just given the cafeteria cashier an Irish 20c piece I happened to have in my pocket.

This trip has given me some reason not to go to Kilimanjaro. I had several days of painful migraines, and spent the hours after the 4th of July fireworks in so much pain I nearly begged hubby to take me to the hospital. The thing about a migraine like that is, there really isn't much they can do except shoot you up with painkillers and steroids. if the triptans aren't working, you just have to hang on and try not to beg for sweet sweet death, until the searing pain and nausea decide to let you live. And that was at 7500 feet. Our 3rd night, I was over 8500 ft, and felt like I had asthma. We were following the "hike up, sleep down" technique but it took a lot longer for me to adjust to each level than I had hoped.

I was fine by day 4, up to 14000 ft. If this were Kili, I'd still have a mile to go. Straight up. I'm not sure I can take it. Maybe if we moved to Colorado...


  1. My first trip there in 1978, stopped in Littleton to pick up my high school bud Chris. We were going to spend that night at his parents' house, and then up to Gunnison to where he was going to school. Now it's only 5200 ft in Littleton right?...Middle of the night...projectile refunding of my dinner, worst headache I have ever had in my life. I was freaking out, thinking I'm dying or something. His mom told me that she had the same problem when they moved there. First night. Then it went away. She was right, it went away. Never came back in 20something trips, including 12500 ft Aspen, Snowmass, Crested Butte,..Never been to 14,000. That's like the top of Pike's Peak, Shavano, Elbert, Shasta. Those Fourteeners are awesome. Me envy you Iso, headache or not.

    Also, no smoking at altitude. You'll fall asleep in mid-cigarette. (guess you don't have that worry huh?)

  2. Heh, we drove to Pike's Peak the first day. Free high. I guess that makes me a fourteener? LOL!

  3. And it's a fab time to be there too. Of all of my trips to the Rocks, I only went once in the summer. August in Pitkin, Cty. Oh man, it's so green. And mountain bikers were more numerous than cars. And that was late 80s...prob moreso now huh? You Hot Fourteener Bitch You!

  4. I am fortunate that I have never had altitude sickness. I grew up in Colorado Springs and now live at about 5300 feet with several trips to 10,600 feet.

    When exercising, I never feel muscle burn as my lungs seem to give out first thanks to 12 years of smoking. When I went bicycling around Catalina Island, I felt muscle burn for the first time.

    Attempting to Post as Sam but having difficulties


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