Altitude Sickness; It’s Really Not so Fun


   A friend asked me today if I had ever had shin splits with all the running I do.
   No but I’ve had Shin Shits!   Haaahhaaahaaa!
   Oh wait, is that only funny to me?
    I guess it’s funny now, because I’m wearing clean pants. 
    It was not funny when I was twenty two years old, running/ hiking fifteen miles down a mountainside trail with shins that hurt and explosive diarrhea.
   I knew at the bottom of the trail head below me, I might find a real bathroom, something with toilet paper and no flies biting my white ass, oh god I hoped. I had not seen a real bathroom for days and this was day two of altitude sickness. I was feeling a little shitty, to say the least.
   I had been back packing with friends near North Palisades Glacier in the Central Sierras for four days. It had been four days of hiking, fishing, camp food and farting; good times with some amazing friends.
   The pinnacle of our trip was suppose to be hiking to the North Palisades Glacier at 12,000 feet. I live at over 6,000 feet so I thought I would have no problem with the altitude. Ha, famous last words, I think now.
   We decided to approach the Glacier from the North and take the Big Pine Trail up. This trail starts in the Inyo Wilderness above Big Pine and takes you into the John Muir Wilderness. (You know your out in the boonies when the area isn’t labeled as “forest” any more, but “wilderness”) The first day of the hike was the hardest thing I had done to that day in my life. It was fifteen miles of hiking up hill through some of the prettiest alpine forest I had ever seen. (This was years before my Alaska adventure, of course) This was our first back packing trip and we had no idea how to pack. I’m not lying when I say our packs weighed between fifty and seventy pounds. Steven’s pack weighed the most as he packed in a air mattress and a toilet seat, which was strapped to the outside of his pack (We back pack in style!)
  We made our base camp at pristine First Lake, home of EVERY MOSQUITO IN AMERICA! But besides that, an excellent choice. Our first two days we spent in the Sierras consisted of doing little day hikes to get used to this elevation of 9,000 feet, fishing in the little lake and relaxing in nature.
   I awoke on the third day and was enjoying my instant coffee by the little lake while swatting at five hundred mosquito’s that I’m sure had all hatched the night before, when all of a sudden Ryan was in my face yelling
   “WE HAVE TO GO NOW! THESE HIKERS I JUST FOUND ARE GOING TO SUMMIT THE GLACIER! THEY WILL TAKE US WITH THEM! WE NEED A GUIDE! WE HAVE TO GO NOW! NOW! NOW!”
   I guess Ryan had made plans with these guys last night, while I was sleeping and farting in our smelly tent. All of our other friends were tired of hiking at this point so it seemed only Ryan and I were interested in scaling the glacier.
    Even though I had just moments ago pulled myself out of my smelly sleeping bag (Seriously, three days of camp food and not showering, I was gross) we hit the trail. I grabbed a Cliff Bar for the road for breakfast and a bag of nuts for lunch later and we started hiking up hill. A mile in to the hike I was not feeling good and lagging behind. Ten minutes later I started to get dizzy, my ears were ringing and my stomach was cramping up. I had been trying to eat that Cliff Bar for fifteen minutes and I couldn’t swallow a bite of it to save my life. I just kept chewing and chewing, it was really weird.
   By nine o clock my stomach was in a bad way and I knew I had to hide behind some rocks and take care of some paper work. No glacier for me. I needed a toilet, a real toilet with seat covers and toilet paper and maybe some magazines? Because I was going to be there a while. I said goodbye to Ryan and the other hikers and slowly, very slowly made  my way back to our base camp. The next two days were pretty shitty, to say the least. I was dreaming of what awaited me at the bottom of the trail when we hiked out; a clean restroom. That, sadly was fifteen miles down a mountain side below us in Big Pine.
   The day we hiked out I practically ran down the mountain, arms out stretched ready to destroy a real toilet. I wasn’t really paying attention to Ryan or his none sense, I felt pretty bad. Or maybe I’m a real bad friend. We had been driving back for quite a while when I realized something was wrong; my friend was crying uncontrollably. Okay, well, his eyes were leaking uncontrollably. I was worried about him at first, but soon it became hilarious that he couldn’t stop crying. He had not been wearing sunglasses while hiking at the Glacier and we were pretty sure his eye balls were sun burnt.
   Mean while Ryan kept pulling over at every business he could find some where near Lone Pine or Ridge Crest I really have no idea in BFE where ever we were. No one would let us use their rest rooms. It may be because we were giggling, crying and we smelled like homeless people after days of not showering.
    Let’s just say we never made it to a bathroom in time and the saying shin shits was born.
    I still to this day blame Ryan for making me shit myself, because if he hadn’t made me laugh so hard with his constant crying, I think I could have been okay. Or maybe it’s the fault of everyone in the high desert for not being so sharing with their bathroom situations.  I still tell every one always, even with my altitude sickness adventure, this was one of the best vacations I ever took.

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