Day 34

384-400

So today was just absolutely horrible. I woke up with surprisingly painfree feet and legs. Dan had made a fire at the campground and me and Snapdragon sat by it drinking our coffee. I made my breakfast and started feeling worse and worse. I was extremely tired, cold and my eyes felt like they couldn’t concentrate on anything. I can’t really explain it because I’ve never experienced anything like it. 2 miles down we would be getting to a parking lot sot I got my stuff together which proved to be difficult. My brain was so scattered and I felt like crying non stop. I didn’t know why but tears would be welling up constantly and I wasn’t feeling sad or anything. I followed Lipstick down the mountain who stopped at one point to check me for signs of dehydration. The expression on her face suggested that I wasn’t looking very good. I kept going because I just needed to get down there, I focused on the ground because if I looked around I got the feeling of throwing up. I made it down and immediately threw my pack off and sat down at one of the tables. I had cold sweats running down my body and I felt a strong need to get closer to civilization. Lipstick made me drink a liter and a half of elektrolytes and I told her I wouldn’t be able to hike today. We had another mountain ahead of us that would climb to 8000 feet and there was no way I would be able to get up there in this state. The parking lot was next to Highway 2 and I knew there was a restaurant on it called Newcomb’s Ranch Restaurant that came close to the pct at mile 403. I wanted to hitch their and see if I would get better. Snapdragon and Pedro joined me and we got a lift from a woman. The sitting down and drinking had made me feel better so I thought dehydration might in fact be the problem. But as we were driving, we started climbing again, and again I started feeling worse and worse. That’s when it hit me, altitude sickness. I was feeling like vomitting again and started panicking in my head. If I can’t make it at this altitude, the Sierra’s would be impossible for me. We got to the restaurant and I stumbled out of the car. We sat down outside and ordered food and lots of fluids. Gradually I started feeling better. Lipstick arrived and instantly saw that I was looking better. She got a ride from the endangered species closure and knew that Daniel still had 10 miles to go. The restaurant closed at 4 PM but he would be coming down here to meet us. The closest trailhead was mile 403 where he most likely would be coming down from but a campground would be 3 miles further. So we got a ride from the owner who would drive us up to the point where the pct crosses Highway 2 around mile 401 and we would hike back half a mile to a campground and wait for him there. I sat in front and explained what I had been feeling that day to the owner. He immediately responded that it must have been altitude sickness. I was feeling less dreadful for the Sierra’s but I knew this was something I’d have to watch out for. I suspect it kicked in because I hadn’t drank enough on Baden-Powell. He dropped us of and we hiked to the camground. Half an hour later we found Daniel and our trail family was reunited. Feeling bad about having to skip and missing the 400 mile marker, me and Pedro walked back down the pct to find it. While we were walking I was feeling much stronger.


We got to take our pictures and headed back to the camground. Lipstick worked her magic again and massaged the tension out of Dan’s calfs and in return he made us a fire. 


I had ripped the seam of my pants on some branches so Snapdragon sewed them back up for me.


It’ll be a while until we’re up in high mountains again so hopefully I don’t have to experience a day like this again any time soon.


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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Just a thought… given the headache you woke up with, it sounds as though you started the climb already dehydrated. You need plenty of water to help acclimate the body to higher altitudes, and time to adjust. If you take it slow, drink lots of water, and give your body time to adjust in stages, you may still be able to acclimate to the Sierra. Knowing that you’re susceptible to altitude sickness, maybe skip the alcohol before going up to high elevations as it further dehydrates. Sounds like you’ve found a wonderful trail family, which always helps. Stay safe out there!

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