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[CDT-L] Altitude???]

Kahley wrote:
>Well I have a question.  From what I know, the CDT travels the
>highest for the longest of the major trails.  How can you prepare for
>the change. If someone lives at say 2000ft above sea level, how long would
>it take to acclimatize yourself to such a change.  I would assume
>that in starting from south to north, the gain would be gradual
>enough to deal with.  Is that a sane assumption?   I know when I
>drove from Pa to Estes Park Colorado, I couldn't believe the
>difference.  Trying to hike in RMNP was very rough........     Kahley

Kahley -
After a losing battle with HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)
last year Ginny and I did some research.  A little of what we found:

1. High altitude can be anything over 5000 ft.  but for most people
    the effects start at 7000 to 8000 ft. and get worse with increasing
2. Acclimatization takes time.  Full acclimatization can take as long
     as several months although most people can function fairly well
     after a week or so.  We started at 9000 ft last summer after
     just 48 hours acclimatization and camped at 10000 the first night
     and 11500 the second night.   Not good - too much too fast.
3. HAPE - and its cousin HACE (High Altitude Cerbral Edema) - can kill
    you overnight.  On the other hand, HAPE "can" be a longer term
    proposition (as it was with me) where the lungs fill with fluid
    rather than immediately.  We got out when I could no longer walk on
    level trail without pain.  It improved immediately when we got below
    10000 ft.  and came back immediately when we hiked out of Wolf
    Creek Pass (11000+) 2 days later.  When we got back to the East
    Coast it took nearly 2 months of hiking for my lungs to clear.
4. There is a drug which can improve high altitude performance for some
    people.  My doctor wouldn't prescribe it because he didn't know
    it, but Ginny's doctor knew about its use for high altitude. 
    your doctor - but if he doesn't know about this particular use for
    Diamox then find someone who does.
5. Long days, big miles, heavy loads, dehydration, lack of sleep, poor
    nutrition, insufficient acclimatization time  - all contribute to
    altitude problems.  We did the first 55 miles in less than 4 days -
    with HEAVY packs (or at least a lot heavier than we were used to
    carrying).  Not BIG miles - but big enough to set us up for trouble
    a week or so later.
6. Alcohol - stay away from it.  It'll dehydrate you.

There's more, but those are the points that I can remember right now.
If you ever get to watch the McVeigh's CDT video, Carol's breathing
problems in Colorado were the same problem that I had.  I didn't
understand it until it happened to me.  Now I UNDERSTAND.

Something to think about.

Walk softly,

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