Sit. Rep. #137: Priority Purchasing-I, Altitude

1- Hiking is hard on your feet compared to an average school or workday.  You will usually cover many more miles through rougher terrain.  If you are backpacking; then your feet and legs are carrying more weight than normal.  I coach beginning backpackers to concentrate their first purchases on shoes and socks.  Ask your fellow hikers what they like in a shoe or boot to hike in.  Go to several stores and find a knowledgeable salesperson to assist you.  Try different brands and styles.  Try different brands & styles of socks.  Boots and socks are the most important pieces of gear that you will purchase!  Get several pairs of socks.

G: What do you call a scared skeleton?
H: Gutless.

2- First thing is then to waterproof your boots.  Second: break them in.  Breaking in a pair of shoes takes some time.  Walk around the house on a lazy day.  Get used to how they feel.  Then start wearing them to go on short hikes or to school.  After several days of this; try wearing them on a long day hike.  You can pack an extra pair of shoes or do laps close to home in case you develop a hot spot or blister.  Make sure that you are wearing the hiking socks and washing the hiking socks after use.  If the boots seem stiff; try leaving them in a sunny window for a couple of hours before your next wearing.  Wear them with your loaded backpack and see how they feel.  After a couple of long trials; take them out for real on the trail.  Remember that these boots and socks are your “wheels” and if they don’t go, then you don’t go.

I: I heard that you complained about studying for the test and then complained more after the test.
J: Yeah I did and it hurt.  It was a blood test.

3- High Altitude Sickness (AMS) has a strong correlation with dehydration.  Generally, I use 5,000 to 8,000 feet (1500  to 2400 meters) as a marker for “high altitude.”  At higher altitudes, your body uses more water and loses water faster than normal.
– Increased urine output
– Sweat evaporates very quickly so you do not know you are losing water
– Dryer air
– Heavier breathing / more breaths per minute loose moisture because there are fewer Oxygen molecules at altitude
– Cooler air/temps. cause your body to suppress your thirst
– Flying to and from high altitude destinations increases your body’s need for water
– The kidneys conserve less fluid at altitude

K: Where do ghosts & goblins go swimming?
L: Lake Eeeeerie.

4- Symptoms for Altitude Sickness (AMS):
* Headache
* Nausea and Vomiting
* Loss of appetite
* Loss of sleep
* Fever
* Loss of memory and function (coordination)
* Dizziness and weakness / lightheaded
* Nail beds turn blue; blue, or grey lips and/or fingertips
* Diarrhea
* Can’t clear ears
* Night Visions & Field of Vision may be reduced

— Going from bad to worse —
* Cough w/ phlegm
* Swelling of extremities
* Psychotic
* Behavior alters
* Disoriented
* Nose bleed
* Rapid heart rate – Palpitations
* Fainting

— Even More Worse —
* Sweaty
* Disoriented, Agitated, Confusion
* Persistent Cough
* Frothy Sputum
* Feeling of suffocation or chest tightness
* Chest sounds like a crumpling paper bag during breathing
* Coma

5- First Aid:
– Descend to lower altitudes
– Supplemental Oxygen (O2)
– Hydrate
– Keep warm
– High carbohydrate diet, w / fruits, honey, molasses, vs fats  (It takes more oxygen to digest and metabolize meats, dairy, and fats)
– NEVER leave this person alone!
NOTE: No stimulants, caffeine, sleeping pills, tobacco, or alcohol.  (Let medical professionals prescribe/administer medicines.)

6- The best path to prevention:
– Pre-trip physical – tell your medical professional you are going to do a high altitude adventure
– Workout hard for at least a month before the trip
– Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
– Slowly climb to greater altitudes – slow ascent – less than 1,000 feet per day
– Work high, sleep low

M: What do you call a kitten that eats lemons?
N: A sour puss.

Stay Safe,

Dare to Soar by Thomas Mercaldo

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.