Does altitude make you crazy?

I was thinking about this question as I watched back the video that I took of myself in Yosemite National Park yesterday. As I perched on a rock at 9,000ft, in my Paula-Radcliffe-style sunglasses, I sang snippets of The Lion King, whilst holding an imaginary Simba, looking onto the ponderosa pine trees and waterfalls.

I then dramatically rummaged through my CamelBak for a honey and lemon throat sweet. I was ill. I couldn’t breathe.

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When you’re really run down with a cold – painful chest, agonising sand-paper-like throat, nose like a snotty tap… you ought to keep warm, drink lots of hot lemon and honey and put your feet up. Why on earth did I think it would be a good idea to hike through Yosemite National Park? As beautiful as it is, pretty much every step I was taking I was thinking ‘why, why, why, why.’

Does altitude make you crazy? Does it make you make stupid decisions?

I googled.

Classic Google.

Does altitude make you fart?
Does altitude make you tired?
Does altitude make you pee more?
Does altitude make you swell?

(If any of these really interest you, please research them in your own time).

Turns out there is nothing on, ‘does altitude make you crazy?’ So, I’m going to go with ‘no’. Apparently, I just don’t know when to stop.

Some of the pictures I took were awesome. But the pictures don’t show the sheer discomfort I was in. HOWEVER, even though it made me feel a bit worse, if I could go back in time to yesterday, would I do it again?

Erm. Yes.

Consumed by wanderlust, Yosemite may have hindered my body slightly in the recovery process – but the breath-taking beauty of the place, wins hands down for me.

Yosemite. “Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.”

 So, as beautiful as it is, pretty much every step I was taking I was thinking ‘why, why, why, why.’

But then I looked up.

Closer to the clouds

The mountains were calling and I have now arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California (8,000ft above sea level).

If you have ever experienced high altitude before, you’ll know that all physical activity is more demanding when you’re closer to the clouds. Even walking up the stairs, I’m wheezing, feeling like an asthmatic 90-year-old.

In terms of running: I have been advised to cut back my mileage by at least 25% for the first week and should expect to be at least 15% slower. One of my goals is to join the Mammoth Track Club. The Mission of the Mammoth Track Club is to support athletic and academic achievement, develop professional athleticism and promote lifelong health and fitness through running in a high altitude environment.

http://www.mammothtrackclub.com

Sounds fun.

Even though I have been taking my running steady these last few days, the dramatic elevations have shocked my body – especially my little size 3 feet. A steep, fairly long downhill run has caused trauma to my big toe, resulting in painful swelling and severe bruising. Pass me the ice pack!

I’ve done a couple of mini hikes, but nothing too severe as of yet. But I have 3 months and those mountains aren’t going anywhere. It is a tad frustrating though – I have also come down with stinker of a cold.

Currently sniffing Olbas oil and bathing my foot with Epsom salts.

When messaging Anne, my soul-mate who I met in Bangkok, she said: “You manage to survive Thailand, yet Cali tries to destroy you!?”

I actually think that because the last 5 months have been so full on (sometimes dangerous, often dirty) my body has become exhausted trying to protect itself.

Now that I’m in my true paradise and doing what I love, my body has relaxed and, OH HEY VIRUS. But if I’m going to be anywhere, California is the place. Priding itself on health, vitamins and minerals galore (minus the outrageous cost of healthcare), I think Mammoth has got my back.

The landscape is spectacular. The people are ever so friendly. The buses are free. What’s not to love?

In the winter months, Mammoth is a popular ski resort. So even now, in the hot summer, it’s got that chilled, ‘Apres Ski’ kind of feel. I had a peek on Tinder out of sheer curiosity (purely for research purposes, of course). It amused me that all the men pretty much look the same. Oh, and apparently life is ‘totally rad’ and ‘gnarly, man.’

 

Oops I did it again

In 2012 I caught an aggressive bug as I inter-railed around Italy and France. I should have known it would happen. I slept in dirty hostels in Rome and ate cheap bread and cheese for days. I wore crinkled, back-pack-squashed clothes and got a lobster stomach from the French sun. I’m not sure whether I caught the bug from the questionable hostels, the dirt cheap food, maybe even the crammed, budget airline flight home? But catching the travel bug hit me hard. “Time to start saving.” I thought.

Fast-forward 4 years and I have just come back from a trip of a life-time exploring New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Determined not to get the ‘travel blues’ when I arrived home, I pumped myself up and put my energy into looking forward to getting a job in London again, and catching up with my beautiful family and friends.

But during my job-hunt and catch ups galore, an incredible opportunity arose… I won’t go into too much detail right now, but long story short, I got the chance to go to California for 3 months.

Mammoth Lakes.

I visited there last summer. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the world. The appeal is a combination of breath-taking scenery, challenging running routes and the community’s support of athletic endeavors. It’s also a place where snow-capped mountains, peaceful forests and bald eagles are often the runner’s only companion. I remember getting the plane home and thinking, ‘I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but I know that I’ll be back.’ I certainly didn’t expect it could be so soon!

I pride myself on being sensible with money. Somehow, I managed to come under budget for my last trip. So the money for my flights to Mammoth was sweetly staring me in the face.

‘But you’ve just had an epic trip’ I told myself. ‘You don’t deserve this.’

So the London job-hunt and catch ups continued. Now, I’m not usually one to crack under peer-pressure, but EVERYONE who I spoke to about the Mammoth opportunity said, ‘GO!!!!!’

So I did.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt