vaca report #1: too high

Back home from the Death Ride. It was a surprisingly long weekend, but fun. I’ll be making a bunch of random stream-of-consciousness only semi-related posts about it; this one is about altitude sickness.

We (me and Eric) go up to the sierras a lot; the mountains are gorgeous and fun to explore and there are a lot of sporting events we go to that seem to take place in the sierras (the Sierras, for those of you Not From Around Here, are the Sierra Nevada mountains, the big mountain range on the east side of California).

A few years back we would go once or twice a year up to Donner Pass to watch motorcycle trials. Donner Pass is at 8000 feet. Its really really high. And I would spend a whole day hiking around Donner in 90 degree heat with one bottle of water and I would feel just fine.

(Side note: yes, this is the Donner Pass named for the Donner Party, the emigrants who got caught in the sierras in the winter in the 1840’s and ate each other to survive. There’s a big park there memorializing it now, with an interpretive center and statue and everything. No, I know what you’re imagining and its actually a very tasteful statue).

Anyhow: these days we still go up to the mountains a lot, but now I weigh 25 lbs less and I’m in way better shape. But now if I go up to even 6000 feet I get splitting headaches, nosebleeds, and I can’t seem to drink enough water to be comfortable. I get tired really easily and I feel really blah. This has happened to me on every trip I’ve made to the sierras over the last year, and it happened this last weekend.

Overall: it sucks. It seems really weird to me that the better shape I’m in, the worse my altitude sickness gets. Why is that? Its not fair. And I suppose it means I won’t be climbing everest any time soon. Darn.