Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amphitheater Lake: Going to the Top of the World

MY HEAVY-HITTER HIKING FRIENDS in Jackson Hole who live here mostly year-round think nothing of doing a 12-mile hike with 3,000' altitude gain. After all, they have all those coveted red blood cells that pick up every morsel of the scant oxygen floating around in these higher atmospheric realms.

But me,  just here from lower lands, I have to wait patiently for my body and blood to acclimatize and make more reds as I heavy breathe my way up mountains. It gets a little better every week, but in truth, complete acclimatization doesn't happen for months---about the time I have to go back to Tennessee.  Still, every new red helps.

Yesterday, a patient friend invited me to hike up to Amphitheater Lake assuring me he knew I could do it. I couldn't turn him down though I knew pain and suffering lay ahead up that trail.

When hiking,  there are three things I pay attention to:  Shortness of breath, energy and joint pain.  My energy and lack of pain were terrific all the way up, but I had to stop  often for 30-60 seconds to catch my breath.  Coming down energy and breath were fine...but the knee pain began and got worse as we worked our way back down 20 switchbacks before taking the last, long  ridge down to the parking area in GTNP. Going down can often be the hardest part in some ways.

Long and short,  I should have taken an ALEVE in my pack and downed it at our lovely rest break at Amphitheater Lake before starting back.  It's amazing how much it helps.  Next time, for sure.

Last night I took an ibuprofen before going to bed and it's amazing how energized and pain-free I am today---though I will take it much easier for a little while.

In the beginning, middle and end, it's all Grace that enables me to get up and walk up to almost the top of the world again this year.   I am so fortunate to have friends to do these gorgeous hikes with.

I am deeply grateful, more so each year.

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