The SW trip – day 4

Packed up and ready to go. Sissy looks ready, too.

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We had the kayaks, but sadly the water in the preserve’s channel for kayaking was too low.

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The birdlife was pretty sketchy, too. We were disappointed to learn that they allow hunting in this so-called preserve. It seemed the only restriction was that white birds were protected because apparently trumpeter swans made an occasional appearance. We never saw any white birds at all. There had been a scheduled hunt the weekend before we got there, so I suspect many of the birds had vacated or were thoroughly spooked (except for the Coots of course!)

Other than Coots and Mallards, we mostly got to see various Grebes. The couple in the above slideshow was quite cute and cooperative, so I was happy.

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Leaving Ruby Valley we saw remnants of the mining activity. It seems that Nevada’s economy depends mostly on its casinos, brothels and lots of mining. This day we didn’t drive as many miles, but they were mostly on very dusty gravel roads.Day4-5248

The next campsite at Great Basin National Park was quite pretty with some fantastic views on the way up. Sadly I didn’t get to enjoy much of it. A pity since the Aspens were putting on quite a show. I have never seen such a variation in colors on Aspens before. They ranged from the usual bright yellow to orange and even some bright red. Amazing!

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It seems that after living at or near sea level for the past twenty plus years, ascending to 10,000′ (3048 m) was not such a great idea. I had my first taste of altitude sickness. (illness caused by ascent to a high altitude and the resulting shortage of oxygen, characterized chiefly by hyperventilation, nausea, exhaustion, and cerebral edema. -per Google Definition) I could hardly take a dozen steps without feeling nauseous, feel my heart beating wildly and gasping for breath. It was too late to move to a lower campground by then, so I essentially stretched out in the back of the van and didn’t move around any more than I absolutely had to.

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The next morning Eric insisted on heading straight down the mountain and forgoing the hike he had hoped to take on the Bristlecone Trail. I immediately felt better as soon as we dropped to around 6,000-7,000′, though a bit of the nausea and shortness of breath lingered for a couple of days.

Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats. 
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

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37 thoughts on “The SW trip – day 4

  1. I had a moment of breathlessness even at 6,000 feet somewhere in Arizona. I hate to think how I’d feel, damn. But look at the beautiful photographs you took – the landscape and aspens, that single leaf – really lovely.

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    • Thanks, Lynn. You wouldn’t believe how hard the altitude hit on a short little walk up a small slope to get that single leaf. That certainly stopped me in my tracks and I had to lie down as my heart pounded and I gasped for breath. Not everyone seems to be affected as severely, but it’s not something to mess with if you are.

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  2. How disappointing they allow hunting there, it just doesn’t seem right. I love your images of the Aspens..flying over the Rockies I could see beautiful pops of gold here and there and I was wondering if they were the golden leaves of the Aspens.

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    • The Park Service has this phrase they put on all their signs: “Land of many uses”. It seems to cover logging, hunting, open range grazing and all sorts of things I wouldn’t expect in preserves, but that seems to be the ongoing trend. I just hope the GOP doesn’t get their wish to privatize all the National Parks. Can you imagine the Grand Canyon turned into an amusement park?

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    • I can’t ever remember feeling that sick and awful! I’ve been hit with a mild bit with slightly lower altitudes, but camping at 10k totally did me in. We’ll have to watch that in the future, or try to go up more gradually. Not something I’d want to experience again! It was so frustrating not to be able to do more with those marvelous colors of the aspens.

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  3. Been enjoying your SW trip enormously even tho I haven’t commented much. Those aspens…wow!! Bummer about the altitude sickness. It happens to Paul too.

    Niba

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    • Thanks, ‘Niba’! Nice name change O_o (yes, I know the ‘n’ is right next to the ‘b’ on the keyboard, but I couldn’t resist teasing.) Glad you’re enjoying our trip as much as I’m enjoying yours. We almost bumped into each other since I was wanting to revisit the Painted Desert (my first time was in 1978), but Eric wanted to head up to Escalante and I was still feeling the effects of the altitude sickness, so figured it best to skip the detour I had in mind. That altitude thing is downright scary. Paul has my sympathy if he gets it, too. I think I would have been OK if I’d tried it when we lived in Utah at roughly 6,000 – 7,000, but I’ve been at sea level for some 20 plus years, so jumping up to 10,000 was not fun. It didn’t help that the park brochure warned that it could be life threatening. 😦

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      • Yeah altitude sickness is not something to mess around with. You did the right thing by coming down right away. Paul does ok if we go progressively higher, but we do have to watch and acclimatize. Continued good travels to you!

        Nina

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    • The Aspen were astounding. I’ve never seen such varied colors on them before. Normally it’s always been the bright yellow, but these had brilliant oranges and reds mixed in… while some were still displaying the normal green. It was gorgeous. Wish I had felt up to doing more shooting.

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  4. Lovely photo of Sissy all ready and waiting to go. Altitude sickness is so unpleasant. I experienced it when we arrived in Peru, but fortunately it didn’t last more than a day, then I was okay. The Coca tea I was plied with at the hotel, really helped a lot. Gorgeous photos, especially of the trees all aflame. 🙂

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    • Hmmm… pity I didn’t have any Coca tea handy. I’d say ‘unpleasant’ is a bit of an understatement. I would have loved to have more chances to shoot those wonderful trees and the scenes from the mountain. I did manage a bit more on the way down, but not near as much as I might have liked.

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    • Ha ha… I didn’t get close enough to check out the spiders, but I suspect they’ve been at it for a very long time! So glad you’re enjoying my trip. It’s also fun for me to relive it through the blog. Those fall colors were utterly spectacular. I’ve never seen such variation in the Aspen. I’m mostly bummed that I didn’t get a chance to photograph them a bit more.

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    • Totally agree with you and our ‘wonderful’ politician morons don’t seem to realize their insanity. Then again, I suppose none of those birds would be protected if this nod hadn’t been made to the crazy hunters. sigh Seems we struggle with this issue far too much.

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  5. Oh Gunta, so sorry about the altitude sickness! That is not something to be mucked about with as you know. I’m disappointed for you that you didn’t get to explore the area due to feeling so unwell. The photos you’ve shared are lovely though, especially the beautiful foliage colours. The shot of the water and mountains is gorgeous. I would have felt upset about the hunting season too…

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    • It would have been marvelous to attempt more shots of the foliage and the mountain scenery, but I guess I should be grateful I survived. To be honest, for awhile I wasn’t sure if I was going to, or even if I wanted to. I can’t remember ever feeling so awful. But luckily it didn’t totally ruin the rest of the trip. Eric was certainly suggesting that we head right home, but I thought I was going to get better and I did.

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  6. The aspens are awesome. It’s unfortunate about the altitude sickness, I’ve exper’d it several times too, and even putting the nausea and headaches aside, it’s frightening and awful to not be able to get a deep breath into your lungs. It’s fortunate you still got some great photos, and that your husband insisted on descending as soon as possible. I’ve been enjoying this adventure, Gunta — thanks for sharing it. 🙂

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    • The aspens were incredible and it hurt so much not giving them their due because of how awful I felt. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this. It makes sharing so much more enjoyable! Thank you for all of your sweet and thoughtful comments.

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    • Not so sure about that “only”. It was the worst I’ve felt in a very, very long time. I know I had Eric quite concerned. But I suppose the good news was how much better I felt as we descended to more reasonable heights. The park brochure did warn that altitude sickness could be life threatening and it certainly felt that way for awhile.

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  7. Altitude sickness is pretty common; it is unfortunate you had to deal with this and you were not able to enjoy the beauty in your photos. There is a lot to see that is amazing in Nevada, thank for taking the time to share this message with the rest of the world.

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