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Re: [John Muir Trail] Good times with HAPE

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  • Roleigh Martin
    My sentiments exactly too. My own experiences in how I ve avoided such problems and I lead High Sierra hikes for many who are from flat lands. This summer I
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 25, 2009
      My sentiments exactly too. My own experiences in how I've avoided such
      problems and I lead High Sierra hikes for many who are from flat lands.
      This summer I did the entire JMT with 7 others (starting out, not all had
      time to do whole hike). Nobody had to quit due to HAPA, but we spent 2
      nights at Yosemite Valley before starting hike, 3 days from Happy Isles to
      TM, then we did TM to Reds Meadows in 4 days. Doing the acclimitization
      that slow/gradual over those many days, enabled us to make that distance.
      The 3 of us who did the entire JMT had no problems, and 2 of us were from

      I always prefer being at TH altitude 1-2 days before hitting the trail, and
      taking 3 days before hitting 10,000 and taking 2 days before hitting 9,000.

      We hike at a 10 mile a day pace once we get going but started out at a 7
      mile a day pace.

      Doing the first passes, hikers were recommended taking enteric coated
      aspirin to help thin the blood a little. It helped 2-3 of the hikers.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 1:21 PM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:

      > I think messages like this are the best thing about this site - real world,
      > detailed messages of how someone got in trouble and what they did about it.
      > So, thanks, cjoslyn99
      > If any of you are feeling smug about this -- thinking that you are in too
      > good shape to have problems with altitude -- don't. Susceptibility to
      > altitude problems is a physiologic phenomenon that has virtually nothing to
      > do with your conditioning. It either happens to you or it doesn't and you
      > won't know until you reach your system's trouble point. While there are
      > things that make you less likely to have a problem, the poster did the most
      > important ones (gradual acclimation) and still had a problem.
      > And I love the three bullet points. They seem perfect advice to me.
      > John Curran Ladd
      > 1616 Castro Street
      > San Francisco, CA 94114-3707
      > 415-648-9279
      > On Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 5:55 PM, cjoslyn99 <cjoslyn99@...<cjoslyn99%40yahoo.com>>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > Apologize in advance for the longwindedness, but wanted to post a note to
      > > remind everyone that altitude sickness can hit you when you least expect
      > it
      > > (or would want it for that matter).
      > >
      > > You don't have to read my story, but please keep these rules in mind:
      > >
      > > #1 - If you feel unwell at altitude it is altitude illness until proven
      > > otherwise.
      > >
      > > #2 - Never ascend with symptoms of AMS.
      > >
      > > #3 - If you are getting worse (or have HACE or HAPE), go down at once.
      > >
      > > I went out to Yosemite last Monday and spent a few days doing day hikes
      > to
      > > North Dome, Half Dome and Cathedral Lakes before starting my TM - Reds
      > trek
      > > on Thursday. I do run fairly regularly at home, but I live in San
      > > Jose...essentially at sea level. My first few night stay at the White
      > Wolf
      > > Lodge and the early week hikes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were
      > > specifically planned to get acclimated to the altitude and uphill
      > climbing.
      > > Things went well and I headed to Mammoth Mountain Inn on Wednesday
      > > afternoon, where I'd spend the night, drop my car and be first aboard
      > YARTS
      > > on Thursday morning.
      > >
      > > I didn't sleep well Wednesday night. MMI is around 9700 ft. and my heart
      > > was pounding all night, but I've experienced that sort of discomfort up
      > > there before when skiing. So, despite the lack of sleep, I was ready to
      > rip
      > > Thursday morning. I hit the trail at around 10am and things felt pretty
      > good
      > > overall to start, but I definitely wasn't making the sort of progress I
      > > wanted to. It was maybe 4pm when I finally hit Lyell Forks basecamp area
      > and
      > > after a lovely 2 hrs of nasty uphill climbing, I finally stumbled across
      > the
      > > footbridge below Donohue Pass and made camp.
      > >
      > > Even with my pack off, it was a struggle to walk uphill short distances
      > > around camp. Lack of sleep, I figured, since I had no problems w/ staying
      > > hydrated. Wasn't actually very hungry and was so drowsy, I went to sleep
      > > fairly easily.
      > >
      > > Was about 2:30 in the morning when I woke up sweating bullets and
      > coughing
      > > my head off. Took a few breaths and could feel the gurgling inside my
      > chest,
      > > most severely when I was reclining. I fought my way around inside my tent
      > to
      > > find a comfortable sleeping position, but didn't have much luck. Thought
      > it
      > > was just congestion at first but finally by about 4:30-5am, after more
      > > coughing and recognizing the taste of blood in my mouth, I put 2 and 2
      > > together and realized I probably developed HAPE.
      > >
      > > Fortunately, I somewhat knew what I was dealing with and had enough
      > > strength and energy to get back down to Lyell Canyon ASAP. It was just
      > > starting to get light, so that helped me be able to pack up and exit
      > > immediately (well, 6:45am). There were other campers there, and I'm sure
      > > they'd have helped if needed. I also was carrying one of those SPOT
      > > transmitters, so worst case I could have sent a 911 call (although it
      > > probably wouldn't have made it through the tree cover surrounding camp).
      > >
      > > Although my condition improved once I got back down to a more reasonable
      > > 8800 ft. (maybe 7:30am), I still had the rather "fun" experience of
      > hiking
      > > that 10(?) miles back to the TM trailhead with a rather full pack.
      > > Fortunately, that stretch is about as flat as they come, but every little
      > > uphill turn still felt like a mini-mountain to me. I finally made it to
      > the
      > > TM Grill around 3:30pm, but had to wait for the 6:50pm YARTS that would
      > take
      > > me back to my car. Ironically, getting back to my car meant a trip back
      > to
      > > 9700 ft., which made things worse, and since it was 9pm when I got there,
      > I
      > > was just about toast. I somehow managed to get everything in my car
      > (after a
      > > nice walk up the hill to MMI's backpacker's lot) and shot out of there,
      > > racing downhill to central Mammoth where I figured I'd at least be able
      > to
      > > catch my breath.
      > >
      > > Decision time came at McDonalds and I had a choice of either trying to
      > get
      > > part or all the way back to San Jose (or some significanly lower
      > elevation)
      > > that evening to improve things or stay the night at Shilo Inn to gain
      > back
      > > some strength and make the drive in the morning. Driving back would, of
      > > course, require a nighttime crossing of Yosemite and Tioga Pass, which at
      > > 9,943 ft., didn't make any sense to me (which was comforting b/c I was
      > then
      > > pretty sure I wasn't suffering from HACE).
      > >
      > > So, even though I barely slept that night (anything short of sitting
      > > upright or slightly forward put me in a coughing fit), I at least got a
      > nice
      > > shower (well, the steam made me cough too) and watched the Star Trek
      > movie
      > > for $15.00 on PPV. Hit the road around 6am Saturday and made it back to
      > San
      > > Jose w/ few problems but still had a bloody cough and rales yesterday.
      > PAMF
      > > urgent care dr. took x-rays and confirmed HAPE and referred me to a
      > > pulmonary doc. Still clearing out my lungs but should be back to normal
      > > soon. :)
      > >
      > > In hindsight, especially after I've now had a chance to fully refresh my
      > > memory w/r/t HAPE and AMS generally, I probably should have had the
      > rangers
      > > call in EMT / Paramedics at the trailhead to get me oxygen and down to a
      > > suitable elevation sooner...although I suppose if I had started to
      > > deteriorate I would have done that.
      > >
      > > BTW, AT&T has amazing (if not sporadic) coverage in Lyell Canyon. I typed
      > > in an email to my wife at 7am Friday morning to explain what was
      > happening
      > > and it actually went out sometime around 10am, when I was right around
      > the
      > > trail junction for Ireland/Evelyn Lakes. I didn't try to call until I was
      > > further along, maybe half way between the trail jxn. for Ireland/Evelyn
      > > Lakes and trail junction for Rafferty Creek (slightly below Mammoth Peak
      > in
      > > terms of longitude), but I imagine you could get one out in a pinch if
      > > you're on the trail north of Potter Point. Of course, people were giving
      > me
      > > evil looks for talking on the phone, but they never asked why!
      > >
      > > The other thing I might have done differently was to camp at Lyell Forks
      > > basecamp instead of proceeding up to the footbridge below Donohue Pass.
      > Hard
      > > to tell if I could really have pinned my slugishness on AMS at that point
      > or
      > > even going up the steps...I mean isn't everyone tired going up those
      > things?
      > > On the other hand, it's a good reminder of the "Golden Rules":
      > >
      > > #1 - If you feel unwell at altitude it is altitude illness until proven
      > > otherwise.
      > >
      > > #2 - Never ascend with symptoms of AMS.
      > >
      > > #3 - If you are getting worse (or have HACE or HAPE), go down at once.
      > >
      > > Well, at least I got #3 right (mostly). I don't tolerate altitude very
      > > well, but I've camped & backpacked at or above these altitudes before
      > > without developing HAPE. Usually just some restlessness at night and
      > > headaches that subside w/in a day, fairly normal acclimation process for
      > > me...the same trajectory this trip was taking until the end.
      > >
      > > Still, I guess the lesson is to assess each situation individually and
      > not
      > > assume things will get better on their own. I definitely haven't sworn
      > off
      > > high-country trips (although my wife may have a different view) but am
      > > working with my doctor to figure out the best preventative measures for
      > me
      > > to take when I get back out there again (whether physical training or
      > meds
      > > such as Diamox).
      > >
      > > Ok, I'm done. :)
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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