Day 17 – altitude

May 10th
Miles: 235.2 to 256.1

Woke early, 5:30 is time to get up and work lots of zippers, fire up jetboils, and wander off to pee in the hiker world.

There was a large encampment of us last night, nice camp spot,  one of the few places around there not torched by a fire back in 2005 or 2006. At camp there was a small pool built by hikers for collecting water from the small stream below. We looked like a refugee camp.

And then, just like someone rang a bell the camp is emptied out and everyone is on trail again. Big Bear is calling, zero days with hamburgers and beer, showers, resupply, baby wipes and wet naps, etc. The little things matter in our sparse world, a simple snickers bar is a very serious form of currency among hikers.

However, I digress.

One issue for me that I have found is that above 7500 feet I am hit by altitude issues kind of drastically. I am sluggish, slower thinking, my muscles tire easy and cramp and I walk slower.


Unfortunately most of today is over 8000 and bounces between 8000 and 9000 which is messing me up. Badly, I am not a fan.

Walking this much gives you room for pause and reflection,  today I was thinking how the trail is like a compact, miniature, version  of life. You start in the Spring in the desert, you know not a lot of what the trail is. People are there to guide you and give you advice. Then as you make your way northward in the desert there are trail angels and trail magic to uplift you and keep you going. In this little idea, the Sierra is the teenage years and then northern California is like the 20 ‘ s and 30 ‘ s, then Oregon is mid life and eventually Washington,  With Its Goat Rock Wilderness is the end, and you need to get there before winter.

Obviously my little analogy needs more analysis,  but with how compressed time is on the trail, it makes sense now. It feels like I have been out here for a year already. I feel the old world slipping away so surely and rapidly. And I don’t mind, I let it go.

As an aside, I passed a private zoo today, kind of irritating. I do not like seeing bears locked up like this.


Walked long into the day,  seems that just before a town I push hard and hurt myself a bit, today was rough on me, one of those days you feel like you are dumb for doing this and the thought goes:

“what kind of idiot decides to walk from Mexico to Canada?!?!”

“hell, there is nothing in Canada for me, this is dumb dumb dumb”

“I should be making money somehow instead of wasting my time”. 

… and on and on

Finally we bump into the Big Bear hostel trail magic and oh my it made my day.



After this had a long walk to camp and talked the whole time with my friend Che (he got his trail name because he hates Che, but so it goes) about artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and how the maker (3D printing) revolution. Is going to change the world wildly and how we can affect those kinds of change in more positive ways. Or at least be facilitators of such change in ways that don’t cause wild harm. I like that I meet smart people out here and can have conversations about the future of the world, in the middle of the actual real world which everyone has forgot.

Ended up at the Arrastre trail camp at mile 256 with my group here. We had no idea how cold it would get.



Tomorrow, ten miles to town and a zero day.

1 thought on “Day 17 – altitude

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