My (failed) attempt at a SHR section.
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 15:22:09 MDT Print View

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In August we attempted to do a section of the sierra high route from Kearsage Pass to Piute Pass over 10 days. We spent the first 2 days only hiking a few miles and mostly acclimating. On the 3rd day we pushed it about 18 miles. On the 4th and 5th day the altitude hit me bad. I woke up on the 5th day I couldn't move until well into the afternoon. I managed to stumble my why into Glacier Lakes, I don't know how I pulled it off. After spending the first 2 days acclimating and losing another 2 days and without knowing if I would ever acclimate, we decided to turn it into a big loop and head back to our car. I pretty much ran over granite pass (i was feeling awesome) only to crash at the very top again. Only having one water bottle (1L) and frequently running out of water didn't help. I'm starting to wonder if I will ever be able to do a successful high alpine hike. I seem to have a very abnormal problem with elevation.
When we looped back to road's end we managed to hitch a ride into cedar grove and get a burger before heading back up the canyon.
Either way we got in some good hiking. I got to see grouse lake and glacier lakes. Caught some fish.
Here are the pics.

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Near Junction Meadow we bushwacked a bit, crossing several creeks in the process, to find a nice secluded area to spend the evening. We found an old mining camp with 100 year old trash everywhere.
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My berry harvest.
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Me walking by some big trees.
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Kyle.
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Small pond below Grouse Lake. This is where the elevation hit me suddenly and I could barely walk straight.
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Kyle is a tarp master, I'm always amazed and what he can do.
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Our catch for the day.
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Goat Crest Saddle.
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Sandy beach at upper Glacier Lake.
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Lower Glacier Lake, a fantastic forested lake. Caught a couple small golden trout here (best fish I've ever eaten).
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Granite Pass.
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Edited by justin_baker on 09/09/2013 15:40:55 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 17:00:29 MDT Print View

First off, Justin, those great photos, the berries, the trout, and the country you hiked thru would seem to indicate you got your money's worth, even if you didn't complete the SHR section you intended. Many trips don't work out as planned for a variety of reasons. The key is to remain flexible and take what the situation allows. You did just that, and I commend you for your flexibility. It will serve you well on future trips. As for the problem with altitude, I am a little puzzled. You don't mention having any problem with Kearsarge Pass, which higher than Grouse Lake, which makes me wonder if maybe the problem wasn't with altitude per se but one or more of the following: dehydration, the heat going up from Roads end to Grouse lake, hiking too fast. Also, if you determine that none of the above were involved, you might consider talking with your doc about a prescription for Diamox. It is pretty effective for preventing altitude sickness. Somehow, though, given that you are young, strong, and presumably at least reasonably fit, I suspect one or more of the 3 things I mentioned have a lot to do with the problem. If I were you, I would use carefully selected shorter hikes that involve ascending to 11-12K feet to experiment with hydration, pace, and building tolerance to heat, possibly Diamox, or any other variable you think might be involved, to sort out the cause of the problem before committing to a longer, more demanding route like an SHR section hike.

My 2 cents.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
My (failed) attempt at a SHR section on 09/09/2013 17:10:55 MDT Print View

+1 on the Diamox. The stuff seems to work for those prone to altitude sickness.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 17:41:16 MDT Print View

"Only having one water bottle (1L) and frequently running out of water didn't help. I'm starting to wonder if I will ever be able to do a successful high alpine hike. I seem to have a very abnormal problem with elevation."

You seem to have a very normal problem with elevation and dehydration.

For the last time that I backpacked over Kearsarge Pass, I left home and slept one night at 8000 feet, then drove to Onion Valley at 9200 feet. That day, just for training, I hiked up to the pass and back to Onion Valley. After sleeping a night at Onion Valley, I was ready to go with a loaded backpack and had no problems throughout the trip to Forester Pass.

For the next time that you try this, I suggest you carry two water bottles, and you can fill one or both, just depending on how much running water is available. Maybe mix some electrolyte beverage powder into one. That will cause you to retain water better which will help out your muscles.

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 18:14:54 MDT Print View

I do have a prescrip for Diamox and I took a generous dosage throughout the trip. I can't function without it. I've spent a few trips at 7-9k and the standard thing when waking up is to pop a couple and wait 15 minutes before getting up, otherwise I feel terrible and everything is exhausting. Even packing my bag gets me winded. The Diamox helps a lot but on this trip it wasn't enough.
I'm wondering if the elevation change did something. I went from 9k to 5k and then up to 9k all in one day. The day before I was at 12k and the day after we went up 11k. Lots of up and down.
I had no problems going over Kearsage Pass, other than being a little more winded. It hit me later in the trip. I also didn't have much of a problem getting up into kearsage basin and over the pass on our last day (which was about 20 miles).


There are many things that could have contributed to my problems. I wasn't drinking enough. My partner didn't bring any water treatment and I had one bottle of iodine tablets which we shared. He used almost all of them on remote high alpine lake water did not need to be treated (he was carrying them and I didn't see him doing it, otherwise I would have stopped him) and at times we were walking through areas that had stock travel and I avoided drinking these sources because we had so few tablets left - it was a problem that I'm not going to let happen again. I'm going to try electrolytes and see how they help.

I think it's worth going into more detail about my symptoms. I have never felt sick - as in I never felt like I was going vomit or had a headache. These are common symptoms that I've never, ever gotten at altitude. I mostly get extreme exhaustion. I will be walking at a decent pace and suddenly I have to stop every 30 seconds to rest. This trip I was getting very fast heart rates and had to frequently stop to let it calm down. My mind becomes very cloudy and it's hard to focus. It's like I start to forget where I am and what I'm doing. A few times I started to slip and fall over as if I was going faint but I caught myself (this had me very concerned). I had poor judgment and on the cross country sections and I often found myself scrambling over boulders instead of walking through grass.
My symptoms were constantly changing and random, sometimes subsiding, sometimes so extreme that I was forced to stop moving, but mostly making me feel miserable. It was hard to predict when it would hit me.
It's also worth noting that my partner had no issues. I felt bad about slowing him down like that.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/09/2013 18:30:59 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 18:24:29 MDT Print View

"I mostly get extreme exhaustion."

It would not be a stupid idea to get your physician to run some lab tests. The heart rate and cloudy mind could come from several things, and you need to get those ruled out. Things like diabetes, which also relates to an issue of water balance.

I've hiked with people before who did not know that they were diabetic. One minute they were doing fine. The next minute they felt shakey. The next minute they were laying on the ground.

--B.G.--

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re Re My (failed) attempt at a SHR section on 09/09/2013 18:28:42 MDT Print View

Nice pictures.

Sorry about the sickness, happened to me once too.

I find a lot of factors come into play with altitude sickness. Sometimes I think I'm missing some nutrient, other times water is the key, once I just went up too high, nothing helped and I had to go back down.

Its a bummer but you're still here and the mountains will be there next time. After I bailed from one trip a Forest Ranger told me I did the right thing. Apparently a young man with similar symptoms to mine had tried to tough it out and ended up dying.

Edit - Your symptoms are a bit different then mine but I wouldn't give up on high elevetion till you try a similar hike with really good hydration and good nutrition. Water is key for me, I feel it pretty fast if I don't have enough. For big high altitude days I'm usually carrying two liters just to be on the safe side.

Edit 2 - I don't know but changing elevation fast seems to make me feel weird. Once in Colorado at less then 10,000 ft. I felt funny coming down Elk Park. I had been out for 3 weeks so I was plenty acclimatized and I was going DOWN. My theory is that I was either feeling weird because of a fast decent or lack of nutrition (I'd lost weight on that trip felt a bit dizzy when I got really hungry).

Edited by Cameron on 09/09/2013 18:36:59 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 18:43:51 MDT Print View

"The key is to remain flexible and take what the situation allows. You did just that, and I commend you for your flexibility. It will serve you well on future trips."

This wasn't the first time I've had to change plans during a trip. It's depressing when you spend months planning and finally have the time for a long trip and everything falls apart. I was walking through an unbelievably beautiful place but I felt miserable and it was impossible to enjoy it. I was really angry and depressed at one point but I walked out of there satisfied. There were enough good experiences to outweigh the bad.

I'll get the route done eventually, even if I have to plan for a very slow pace. There is always next summer (and the one after that). I had no trouble with the cross country travel. The only thing holding me back is the altitude.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/09/2013 18:45:34 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/09/2013 19:11:44 MDT Print View

Symptoms: some form of heart arythmia might be in play? altitude and dehydration could easily bring this on.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/09/2013 19:47:14 MDT Print View

"some form of heart arythmia might be in play? altitude and dehydration could easily bring this on."

I'm thinking along the same lines. Maybe time to have a chat with a cardiologist?

It does sound like dehydration played a really big part, though. And, as Luke mentioned, possibly nutrition.

Question for Justin: Were you taking in a lot of carbs, at least 30% of your calories?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/09/2013 19:55:30 MDT Print View

My knowledge of nutrition is very limited, but I always end up eating a lot of carbs. So probably a lot more than 30%.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 20:01:43 MDT Print View

The problem is that your physician cannot easily diagnose anything like a high altitude illness without putting you in a low pressure chamber or something else equally complex. That's impractical.

About all the physician can do is to rule out all of the ordinary things that can be tested. Once those are out of the way, then you might close in on a high altitude susceptibility.

Also, I hope that you were consuming your Diamox pills correctly. Normally you would start them 24 hours before you arrive at Onion Valley. Plus, normally Diamox will tinker around with your body's water balance, so you typically need to drink a lot more water for the first 24-48 hours. If you were already into your dehydrated period, then this is not good. In contrast, I have seen others who attempted to take Diamox pills like they were vitamin tablets, the more the merrier.

I've seen others who had a terrible time at high elevation. It turned out that they had been taking some strong herbal remedies because a friend had suggested that stuff.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 20:15:50 MDT Print View

"About all the physician can do is to rule out all of the ordinary things that can be tested. Once those are out of the way, then you might close in on a high altitude susceptibility."

Precisely the point. Eliminating the more common possibilites is probably the best place to start.

Plus, normally Diamox will tinker around with your body's water balance, so you typically need to drink a lot more water for the first 24-48 hours.

Critical. Diamox is, among other things, a diuretic. Given that you were not drinking much water, it is possible the Diamox actually contributed to your problem.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 20:16:28 MDT Print View

I started them several days before the trip. I took 2-4 tablets each day while hiking depending on how I was feeling.




I've always had problems with judging my hydration. The air up there felt really dry as if it was sucking the moisture out of me. I tried chugging a bunch of water when we stopped at a source, but I have a hard time doing that without feeling sick. I can only drink a 1/2 liter at a time. It's like being dehydrated but not thirsty... if that makes any sense.
Only bringing a 1 liter bottle during a dry year was a huge mistake.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/09/2013 20:21:33 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 20:23:00 MDT Print View

"I took 2-4 tablets each day while hiking depending on how I was feeling."

That's not what is printed on the Diamox bottle, is it?

I've had a prescription three times, and I have only actually consumed the drug once. However, the hikers that I see taking it most successfully started on a half-dose, and they only increased it to full dose when they were going particularly high, like above 15,000 feet or so.

Further, some people are allergic to sulfa drugs, and Diamox is in that category. Instead of feeling allergic to it, some people just feel like crap.

The people I saw with the worst problems with Diamox were on the top of Kilimanjaro, and it was because they were terribly dehydrated.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/09/2013 20:24:39 MDT Print View

"So probably a lot more than 30%."

Which eliminates one possibility for feeling lightheaded and lethargic. One down,
"n" to go.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 20:30:29 MDT Print View

"I've always had problems with judging my hydration."

Yes, some hikers are that way.

If your body won't automatically get thirsty enough, then make yourself a system. Put marks down the side of your water bottles, and make a point of stopping to drink it down one mark every so often, a half-hour or something.

Also, I found that a lot of hikers and backpackers don't feel like drinking plain water. So, put some flavor into it that you like. Some of us use an electrolyte beverage powder, but it doesn't have to be full strength. It could be Kool-Aid, iced tea powder, or anything else that will encourage you to drink.

You probably need to be urinating a few times per day, and if the urine is getting too yellow, that is a sign to drink more water. Similarly, if you get too dehydrated, then you may get constipated. Then you feel bad again and again.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 20:40:51 MDT Print View

"I tried chugging a bunch of water when we stopped at a source, but I have a hard time doing that without feeling sick. I can only drink a 1/2 liter at a time. It's like being dehydrated but not thirsty... if that makes any sense."

Have you considered evening your water intake out a bit, for instance 1/4 liter every 20 minutes or so, and slowing your pace down to maybe 2 mph for starters? You can always try going faster after you get this problem under control and drinking more or less, depending on the results you get. Drinking a lot of water at one time can bloat you and interfere with efficient absorption of the water.


"Only bringing a 1 liter bottle during a dry year was a huge mistake."

+1 I think this whole hydration area is a good place for you to start looking for solutions.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Hydration on 09/09/2013 20:52:20 MDT Print View

Chugging doesn't work well for me. Well I do camel up at times but I can only take so much, especially at altitude. I do tend to chug more in the evening, maybe resting has something to do with it?

+1 on a system of constant hydration. I never really thought about it but at some point I decided I needed to average 4 liters a day. So one by mid morning, one by lunch and so on. Whether I chugged or sipped was less important then spreading 4 or more liters out over the course of the day. This was a minimum, I've gone over it plenty of times, if I've drunk a two liters by mid morning I plan on spring 6 or 7 out over the course of the day.

Keep trying, my theory is learning to read your body is a skill you develop with practice (and I'm not perfect either). On a 31 mile day I took a break when I felt myself getting overheated and thirsty. After a bit I was fine. My brother nearly bonked soon after. He's in better shape then I am when it comes to running. But he just didn't know how to pace himself on a slower but longer hike. I don't tell that story to brag on my athletic abilities because there are lots of people her much more athletic then me. The point is that practice helps. You'll figure it out eventually.

Edit - Now that I think about it I remember feelings similary crummy once at "only" 12,000 in Colorado. I'd forgotten my water bottles so I was using two 16 or 20 oz bottles I'd bought in a store. Streams were dry (fall) and I got thirsty, then had a head ache, then dizzy and irritable. We camped pretty high that night (11,000 or so. But once I had a good drink at a creek I started feeling better.

Edited by Cameron on 09/09/2013 21:04:22 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 21:01:25 MDT Print View

Tom, that's what I should have done but remember, only 1 water bottle.
I probably could have gotten away with that early in the season. I passed by so many dried up streams.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 21:03:47 MDT Print View

Bob, my physician initially told me to take 2 per day at most as a low dosage to watch the side effects. She told me to double it if I handled the medication well and needed it.

I don't think she had heard of diamox before I asked.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 21:17:00 MDT Print View

"I don't think she had heard of diamox before I asked."

Yes, I've run into that before, in 1995. I was getting a pre-expedition check-up, and I asked my physician for a Diamox prescription. He looked at me funny, because I didn't look like a heart disease patient. I explained that it was for high altitude, and he started to realize that I knew what I was asking for. So, he went online to check my story. Then after he was doing it, he asked me if I agreed with the standard dosage. Lastly, he asked me for how many days I was going to be up high, so he added on about five days to that and then the prescription happened.

--B.G.--

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 22:06:05 MDT Print View

Justin,
Thanks for posting this. Lots of important lessons for many of us here.

I think planning adequate acclimatization time is critical. Bob's got the right idea, climb high on an acclimatization day(s) and sleep low. Increase incrementally. For example I'm going in next Monday over Kearsage. On Friday and Saturday night we'll sleep at 6,000 ft and hike up higher during the days. Sunday night will be at 9,000 ft. Monday night between 9,000- 10,000 then we'll do Forester pass. Hopefully fully acclimatized.

I've only take Diamox once before on Chimborazo in Equator since it is difficult to acclimatize there. Since then I've been to over 19,000 ft successfully witout it and I've also gotten very sick on at least two occasions at just over 16,000 in the Andes, both time having to bail/self evacuate. Once on horseback I was so weak. First time I got sick was very similar to what you describe. I actually lied down on the trail and just went to sleep. We never got further an had to set up camp there. Saw the same thing happen to my ex-wife in the Himalayas.

Some important lessons I've learned the hard way:

1. Health leading up to a trip is critical. Any lingering upper respiratory issues can lead to problems when you go up high. This led to my problems both times. Now I take extra time to get healthy before going up high. Sucks when you have limited vacation time but so be it.

2. A high fitness level can lead to problem as you move up too fast to properly acclimatize.

3. Diamox. I remember peeing like crazy while taking
it. Definitely important to stay well hydrated and also supplement electrolytes in the days leading up to going high and during.

4.When I need to discipline myself about drinking regularly I use the timer function on my altimeter watch. I set it to beep every 20-30 min and drink regardless of if I'm thirsty or not. Every nth drink I take a gel or snack to keep energy level up unlss I'm drinking a carbohydrate energy drink. For more intense efforts and the like I usually have two bottles one with plain water and one with drink mix to ensure I don;t overload my stomach. This sounds basic but the watch can help reinforce some discipline and it also forces you to keep track of the elevation change and your pace and alert you to any issues. These ideas come from Mark Twight's excellent book.

5. I recommend reading this:
http://www.amazon.com/Going-Higher-Oxygen-Man-Mountains/dp/0898866316/ref=pd_sim_b_2

6. Don't write-off herbal remedies: Coca leaf can help with acclimatization as can Gingko extract. Both have scientific evidence behind them. They shouln't replace Diamox for individuals prone to AMS but can certainly help healthy individuals aclimatize more easily and help relieve mild symptoms. Also good luck getting coca leaf in the US. Gingko is easy. Just bought a bottle tonite to start prepping for my jaunt coming up.


Some stunning photos BTW.

Edited by drown on 09/09/2013 22:33:28 MDT.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 22:08:42 MDT Print View

Your pics are great.

Your symptoms describe exactly how I feel when I'm not eating enough. Slow, lethargic, walking up hill is suddenly much harder, poor judgement, more likely to make route-finding errors. And I get cranky. (Just ask my wife.) I eat something every 2 hours even if I'm not feeling hungry, or I bonk.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/09/2013 22:38:33 MDT Print View

"5. I recommend reading this:
http://www.amazon.com/Going-Higher-Oxygen-Man-Mountains/dp/0898866316/ref=pd_sim_b_2
"

M G, I agree. I keep a copy of it right here next to my computer. I've read some of Houston's earlier work, so I've seen the high altitude medical science progress a bit over the last few decades.

--B.G.--

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 08:16:13 MDT Print View

+a whole lot on the dehydration front. You need to significantly increase your water intake while taking diamox, and it seems like you weren't even drinking enough without it.

But I would also strongly encourage you to get a cardiology work up. No, they don't need to bring you to altitude, but an EKG, echocardiogram, holter monitoring, stress test, etc can bring out activity-related issues. There are some very serious congenital cardiac conditions that don't show up until the heart is under stress (which would be exacerbated at altitude) and you would be smart to make sure this isn't the case.

Good luck

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 08:58:01 MDT Print View

"My knowledge of nutrition is very limited, but I always end up eating a lot of carbs. So probably a lot more than 30%."


So, how Many calories did you actually eat?

Per Hour?

Per Day?

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 15:35:19 MDT Print View

Justin, I'm confused....you had no problem climbing Kearsarge Pass but had issues at slightly lower elevations? If I understand this correctly, most of your trips are at lower elevations right? Ie Ventana, Lost Coast etc. I think aclimation and dehydration might be the cause here. If you don't mind me asking, how much experience do you have above 9, 000 feet??? It's a totally different animal up there for sure... and yes we're all different animals of a kind. Hey we have bailed on trips for different reasons. Heck I bailed on one with Bob Gross a few years ago because I did not know I was diabetic and kept crashing. On the positive. ...you were in some great country out there

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 19:51:58 MDT Print View

""My knowledge of nutrition is very limited, but I always end up eating a lot of carbs. So probably a lot more than 30%."


So, how Many calories did you actually eat?

Per Hour?

Per Day?"

Other Greg, you took the questions right out of my mouth. My suspicion was basically a long slow hitting the wall. Unfortunately used to happen to me all the time. Happened big time on the High Route when I did it. You burn quite a few calories.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 20:43:05 MDT Print View

Thank you for all of the input, you have all given me a lot to think about. I'll look into seeing a physician.

Ken, I'm just as confused as you are. Before I left for a trip, I was talking to a guy and he said that sometimes you will be good for the first couple days and it will hit you on the 3rd or 4th day. That was my first time hearing that, I don't know how accurate his statement was but it happened to me.
Yes I mostly hike at lower elevations. I don't have much experience above 9,000 feet, just a few trips.

I carried about 1.25 lbs per day, not much. My guess is 2500 calories per day.

Here is a general list of foods I carried.
mh lasagna
mh chicken and rice
mh beef stew
mh potatoes/gravy
3 meals of instant mash potatoes
3 packets of ramen
4oz of bacon bits
13 oz of nuttella
10 oz of dried fruit
11 snickers bars
10 oz banana muffin mix
4 oz olive oil (poured into meals for extra calories)
powdered milk and cereal (enough for 6 breakfasts)
mh granola and blueberries (so bland and disgusting)
10 packets hot chocolate mix
picked berries in the lower canyons
and i ate 6 small trout

I know there was a lot more but I can't remember exactly. Just wanted to give an idea of what I'm eating. I have no idea if this is a good diet for hiking or not.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/10/2013 20:45:10 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 20:54:21 MDT Print View

Justin,
During the day, when you were hiking, what were you eating?

I see snicker bars, nuttella, and dried fruit.

If you don't know the calories, just give me a list of what you consumed and how much/many, and I can figure it out from there.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 21:05:56 MDT Print View

I had a bunch of snack foods with me - I just can't remember what I had exactly. Probably cheezits, gorp, raisins, ritz crackers, fig newtons, oreos, stuff like that. Junk food to shove down my throat.
I didn't bring enough no-cook food and the bulk of my eating was concentrated during the evenings. I never seem to get the cook/no cook food ratio right.


I wish I could give you a complete list of everything but it was a month ago. I don't put much thought into food selection and I don't write this stuff down. I will start recording my eating habits for future reference.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/10/2013 21:15:01 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 21:27:27 MDT Print View

Justin,
I'll go out on a limb here ....

The next time you do a hard trip at altitude, figure out how to eat 150 to 200 calories per hour, while you're hiking, rain or shine, want to or not. It means finding stuff that you like, and can eat, and will eat. Preferably high in carbohydrates, like 70% or more. And then take 300 calories per hour. When you feel like crap, stop, rest, and eat some more. You may bring some of it back, but that will diminish as you "tune the system".

Don't call it a hike. Call it a "food training walk". The goal is to learn what your body needs to be happy. Learn to recognize (early), acknowledge, and deal with the symptoms of "Low Fuel" and "Tank Empty". You mention them above. Andrew F. echos your observations.

A 20 mile, 4000', 10 hour day, all by itself requires about 3000 to 3500 calories, maybe more. (YMMV and all of that.) If you are fit, and your 2 mph pace is 20 beats below your lactic threshold (you can easily carry on a long-winded conversation), you can get 25% of those calories from body fat. Otherwise, you have to eat more carbs.

For Instance:
For hard 10 hour "first days" I'll eat 5 PowerBars (1,200 calories), a ProBar (360), a 2 ounce snack bag of chips (300), a 2 ounce bag of Chex Party Mix (300), a "Fun Size" Snicker Bar, and some gum drops, for a total of 2,500 calories. (Which is probably to little, and why I lose about 1/2 pound a day.)

I don't think you were anywhere close to that. (Not counting dinner and breakfast.)


...stepping off the soapbox.

Edited by greg23 on 09/10/2013 22:41:29 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/10/2013 22:18:35 MDT Print View

"a 2 ounce bag of Chex Party Mix (300)"

I found a good way to get that done. I mix up my own, and I add some maltodextrin powder to the melting margarine to help increase the calories. It is a little bulky, but it is tasty.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/11/2013 01:07:47 MDT Print View

Hi Justin

Diagnosis at a distance of several thousand miles ... always risky.

First of all, over 9,000' your digestion does go downhill a bit. You will need a lot of oxygen to handle any fats, especially if you are not experienced at those altitudes. Simple carbos become your friend.

You will also need MORE water to handle the exertion, the reduced humidity, and the digestion problems.

The amount of food you used, 20 oz/day, was grossly inadequate. You should have been eating at least 28 oz/day. Otherwise you are chewing into your reserves. OK for a couple of days, but then it starts to hit.

We have a large breakfast with a big drink, a large (substantial) morning tea with a big drink, a large solid lunch (more drinking), and if necessary a medium afternon tea. Then we have as big a dinner as we can manage. With more drinks. Even so, we still get into the snacks like chocolate and energy bars.

UL gear is great, but do remember that UL weight does NOT include either food or water!

Cheers

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Do GU Chomps precisely meter out body fuel? on 09/11/2013 16:50:22 MDT Print View

FWIW: ELIMINATE THE GUESS WORK? On the outside of a package of GU Chomps it says: "This packet will fuel 1 1/2 to 2 hours of activity. Hydrate along the way."

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Do GU Chomps precisely meter out body fuel? on 09/11/2013 16:55:41 MDT Print View

You are kidding, Right?

"Each serving of GU Chomps contains 4 pieces (90 calories) and will provide enough fuel for approximately 45-60 minutes of activity."

Like couch surfing, reading the paper, looking out the window.

Baseline metabolism is about 90 calories per hour.

Edited by greg23 on 09/11/2013 16:58:31 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/11/2013 17:12:39 MDT Print View

"I will start recording my eating habits for future reference."

It would be highly beneficial to keep track of your carried food for each trip, and have a breakdown of how much is carbs, protein, fat, and fiber, along with total calories. This will allow you to correlate how you feel on a trip with the food you were using, and make adjustments accordingly. It would also give you data to bring to a continuation of this thread, where a lot of experienced folks could analyze it and perhaps come up with some useful suggestions. Another thing yuou might consider is to weigh yourself before and after each trip. This will give you a rough idea of how much body fat you are using to supplement your carried food, and allow you to adjust the amount of food you carry accordingly. I say rough idea because it is hard to differentiate completely between fat loss and water loss without doing a formal measurement like hydrostatic testing before and after a trip. Too much hassle, expensive, and probably unnecessary for ballpark estimating, which is close enough for your purposes.

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
my two cents on 09/11/2013 17:23:55 MDT Print View

After having done about 1/2 the SHR, and having some experience at climbing at high altitudes, all I can add to the mix is the following observations:

When going up to altitude, you can only control a few things; you need to be in the best physical shape you can possibly be in. You have to eat and drink, especially drink, to the point of copious amounts, regularly. You may have to augment with some form of drugs, aspirin, Tylenol, or Diamox. Its still a crap shoot after all that!

The monitoring of your body is critical. Keep working on it. You seem to be learning and on the right track regardless of this trips outcome.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/11/2013 17:43:26 MDT Print View

You can take all sorts of shortcuts to the advice about eating and drinking enough. Sometimes, those might even work. However, sooner or later it will catch up to you.

One time I was doing the Mount Whitney dayhike. I went from Whitney Portal to Trail Crest, drank only eight ounces of Gatorade, and then went on to the summit. However, that was kind of a fluke, and I would not expect to get good results with that little food or water.

--B.G.--

Edited by --B.G.-- on 09/15/2013 00:17:14 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Eat more carbs on 09/11/2013 18:29:20 MDT Print View

Problem solved. The high route is not the place to skimp on food.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/11/2013 19:08:59 MDT Print View

"Problem solved"...umm, I'd still suggest going in for that cardio work up. Not painful--no pain at all!--not expensive. Certainly good for peace of mind and crossing things off the list of possible causes.

I'm no doctor, but your lack of certain symptoms of altitude sickness gives pause. And you mentioned a racing heart. At least run the description of your symptoms that you gave in your second, more elaborate post, past a doctor or cardiologist. What's to lose?
We're just a bunch of people on the internet.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/11/2013 19:52:15 MDT Print View

Thanks Jeffrey, I couldn't agree with that advice more. There are plenty of cardiological issues that can crop up when the body is under duress (long hikes, altitude, insufficient caloric intake, heat, etc) that you won't find at any other times. It has the potential to be life threatening (the single most common initial symptom of cardiac problems is sudden death. Seriously.), so just rule that out before you head back out there. By far the most likely scenario is dehydration and insufficient caloric intake, but goodness gracious you don't want to miss something important.

Be persistent. See a cardiologist.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/11/2013 20:00:29 MDT Print View

""Problem solved"...umm, I'd still suggest going in for that cardio work up. Not painful--no pain at all!--not expensive. Certainly good for peace of mind and crossing things off the list of possible causes.

I'm no doctor, but your lack of certain symptoms of altitude sickness gives pause. And you mentioned a racing heart. At least run the description of your symptoms that you gave in your second, more elaborate post, past a doctor or cardiologist. What's to lose?
We're just a bunch of people on the internet."

Whether or not he needs to go to a doctor...... 2500 calories, when it is a mix of carbs, protein and fats is wholly insufficient for a trip like the high route especially if one is not trained to optimize fat as fuel . Another approach to going to a doctor.... Take a similiar hike and eat more carbs, especially carbs. It will answer the question.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/11/2013 20:35:11 MDT Print View

I originally planned this trip to be at relaxed place averaging about 10 miles per day. Once we hit the high country we planned to stop at a lake every night and eat plenty of fish to fill that gap. I still think that's a reasonable plan if you aren't hiking all day. Our re-route to loop back didn't take us by many lakes so I went a little hungry at times.
The problem is fitting all of that food into a bear canister while taking the route at a slower place. When I try the route again I'm going to carry a canister to avoid a ticket but not constrain my food to the canister.


A couple years ago I planned a 5 day trip out of Mineral King. It took me most of the day to hike the few miles up to Monarch Lake. It was miserable. The week before I did a 20 mile day hike at sea level so it's not like I was out of shape.
When I started up sawtooth pass it really hit me. I kept pushing (not a good idea) until I started to faint while scrambling over rocks. I slipped and nearly hurt myself. I sat there and for a moment I didn't know where I was and why I was there. After that I immediately bailed back to my car. It took me 2 years to attempt another 10k+ trip.

I'm going to see a cardiologist.

Edited by justin_baker on 09/11/2013 20:40:59 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: "My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/12/2013 11:23:48 MDT Print View

Justin, hopefully you can figure this out as you are (and will) be missing some fantastic places to hike. I can't help but to think dehydration and lack of calories with a little altitude sickness might be the cause of this. Just my 2 cents.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/12/2013 16:27:29 MDT Print View

Hope you are able to get to the bottom of this. It is my understanding that dehydration can lead to electrolyte imbalance and can cause a fast / irregular heart beat.

Did you have a good sun hat? In some of the pics it looks like you are using a make shift hat made from clothes.

Disclaimer: I am not a Dr and I don't play one on TV.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/12/2013 16:47:19 MDT Print View

nm

Edited by book on 09/12/2013 16:49:26 MDT.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re:"My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/13/2013 14:58:36 MDT Print View

"I'm going to see a cardiologist."

Good choice. My friend has Afib (Atrial Fibrillation) and he has those exact symptoms when it occurs. It's not predictable. Some trips he has no problems. Others he will be fine for a few days and then it kicks in. I'm not trying to diagnose your situation, just presenting something that confirms some previous recommendations and your choice. My understanding is that Afib is not common in younger people but it does happen. I hope you can find out what it is and get it taken care of. Good luck.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re:"My (failed) attempt at a SHR section." on 09/13/2013 15:24:31 MDT Print View

Also, get your B12 levels checked. People with pernicious anemia don't absorb B12 properly, no matter what they eat. Low levels can cause all kinds of trouble for the nerves and muscles - tingling or numb extremities, flutters in the heart (or bladder, or gut, any part of the autonomic nervous system) - but the first sign of trouble is usually inexplicable exhaustion and the feeling of having no energy reserves at all. It's an easy, cheap thing to fix, as long as you don't mind needles. :)

steven franchuk
(Surf) - M
Re: Re: Re: My (failed) attempt at a SHR section. on 09/13/2013 22:52:25 MDT Print View

"But I would also strongly encourage you to get a cardiology work up. No, they don't need to bring you to altitude, but an EKG, echocardiogram, holter monitoring, stress test, etc can bring out activity-related issues. There are some very serious congenital cardiac conditions that don't show up until the heart is under stress (which would be exacerbated at altitude) and you would be smart to make sure this isn't the case."

Justin I know how you feal, because I have been there. In scouts I would frequently get sick on the first day of a hike but then rapidly get better and would be fine for the remainder of the hike. Since this was in the cascade mountains in Washington state altitudes were generally lower.

After collage I started day hiking in Yosemite and then backpacking. At lower elevations I would get sick but then quickly get over it. However once I started increasing the altitude it got worse. Sometime I was fine but other times it was bad on one trip when I was above 8,000feet I was constantly nauseous and it didn't clear until I dropped below 8,000 3 days later It was a very difficult hike. I talked to my doctor a few times about it and had some tests but nothing was found. I tried diamox but it just made things worse. I also tried supplements, more exercise and diet changes out nothing seemed to work. Sometimes I was fine. Othertimes I had to abort trips.

In the end I stopped talking to my doctors about (a big mistake) it and just stopped trying hiking at altitude.

4 years ago I was rushed to the hospital with a stroke. It didn't last long and left no long term problems. It was quickly followed by subsequent smaller ones. The doctors stopped the strokes with blood thinners and then started looking for the cause. 3 days and several tests later. I was diagnosed with a Atrial Septa l defect. A common birth defect. About 5% of the population has it but Most don't show any symptoms (or at least ones doctors would quickly recognize). I did either unless I stressed my body significantly. which means I had no symptoms at the doctors office, only on the trail.

Basically as long as my pulse was not reasonably low I was ok but as it increased my heart became increasingly ineffective at delivery oxygen to my body. Altitude just made it worse. My stomach would often not work well if at all and I was frequently light headed at altitude. Increasing food consumption and only made things worse and when you are not feeling well water consumption goes way up. Long Rests also didn't help me adapt.

After the defect was correct (the operation only lasted an hour and left no scar). I initially had a great deal of strength after the surgury and altitude no longer had any significant effect on me (at least for a while, it didn't last). I am now getting back into hiking and am really enjoying it.

See a cardiologist and your regular doctor and continuously work with them to figure out the problem.

Desert Dweller
(Drusilla)

Locale: Wild Wild West
SHR on 09/13/2013 23:14:18 MDT Print View

And have a thorough blood work up. Talk to older family members if you can about possible family history with illness. I didn't find out my family had kidney problems till I did! Very scary, but some families keep rather closed mouth about possible congenital things.

One thing that helps me drink more is the bladder bag and tube arrangement. I hate having to deal with it but it helps me drink more, and I live where it's over a hundred degrees a lot. Often I find myself emptying the bag quicker than I thought I would.
You are strong, young and very lucky.