Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hot Springs Hike

Ten days after having a pulmonary embolism ruled out, and 24 hr after I could finally breathe without any doses of allergy tablets, I was ready to try out my new ultralight backpack with a nice little hike! I loaded it up with my gear and weighed it; only 5.5 pounds, which should be okay based on what the oncologist and I had discussed (we'll know more after I see the neurologist about the spinal cord compression issues).

I gave my hiking partners the choice of where to go, and they chose a hike I've been proposing to some hot springs. (I am purposely not naming them here to avoid overcrowding at the spot, but dedicated hikers will have no trouble identifying the location of which I write). Although it is not a lengthy trail, only ~2 mi, it IS a trail in desert heat---and the temperature was over 100 deg when we started out.

The trail passes through transition-type flora and fauna, as this area lies between the desert floor and the towering 8000+ ft mountains. Some wildflowers were still in evidence, and the yuccas were still in mostly full bloom. The highest altitude of our hike was ~4200 ft. A breeze kept us cool for most of the trail, but we quickly lost it when the trail began its descent into the canyon through which the creek cuts (the hot springs are along the creek).

Although I had plenty of water, and also had water with electrolytes and oxygen drops, the heat became more and more of an issue for me on the hike, particularly when we lost the breeze. I fought nausea every step of the way (I woke up nauseated that day), and thought for sure I would vomit several times (but fortunately didn't; after all the chemo I've done, I am
so tired of vomiting!). I rested in every drop of shade we found along the way, tried to recover from oxygen debt every time it occurred (instead of pushing through it), and kept hydrating in an appropriate fashion. I knew once I got to the creek, cooling down would be no problem. But by the time we had almost reached the canyon floor, I was already having chills and goosebumps--NOT a good sign! This is a sign of heat stroke, which is VERY dangerous!!!

Luckily, I was able to make it the last few yards to the creek, which was deliciously cool without being the normal frigid melted snow waters that normally grace our local mountains, thanks to the hot springs draining into it. I eased in very slowly to prevent shocking the body, but the relief when I was finally able to wet the top of my head was INSTANTANEOUS. I had no further symptoms of heat problems; no headaches, etc.

Plenty of people were there already, and I had previously alerted my hiking party that this is a popular destination for both "natural" (read: nude) hikers as well as the to-be-expected skinny-dippers. So nobody in our party was surprised or offended by the nudity when we arrived. (I did try to keep all my pictures "G" rated, but one PG-rated one did sneak in.)

We swam in the cool creek for a bit before braving the hot springs. The first pool seems almost scorching after the hot hike (105+ deg is a normal temp for these springs). It is the perfect size to lie and soak in, just like a bathtub.
But I didn't stay in it very long at all, just a couple minutes, as I was worried about overheating again. The upper hot springs was JUST RIGHT in temp, and most of the people were gathered in it.

Occasionally someone (including us) would jump from the upper hot springs into the creek, which makes for a nice little "polar bear plunge" without quite the frigid temperatures normally involved.
And I'll tell you, my friends, not ALL beaches are by the ocean! This creek has a lovely beach on which to picnic and sun, which is exactly what we did. Soaking in the hot springs, drinking the mineral water, swimming, sunning, and picnicking--what a wonderful place and a wonderful way to spend the day!!!

Since we needed to be out by sunset and I am such a slow hiker these days, we left sometime after 5 pm. The climb out of the canyon to the saddle was hot and slow, but I had dunked in the creek before starting out and my shirt stayed damp until almost the top of the saddle.

Once we reached the saddle, we were in blissful shade for most of the hike out. I finally handed off my backpack on the very last hill, halfway up, when we were in the sun again. We made it back to the car as the sun was sinking, and it had completely set and night had fallen by the time we stopped for some well-deserved pizza.

We didn't get home until almost 10 at night. I jumped on the scale to find my weight was down 1.5 pounds from morning till then, pizza and all. So the hike definitely was a workout!

Unfortunately, the instant I had my hiking boots off and my feet up, the muscle cramping started---both feet as well as back muscles. OUCH!!! I got up and drank some more electrolytes, which then kept me up till after 1 am despite my fatigue. But it did help the cramping, and I was able to get a few hours sleep before the killer schedule began Monday morning.

I went to the voodoo dr, who determined that I am slightly dehydrated (despite my best efforts) and need to boost my potassium some. I used the TurboSonic machine to loosen my muscles up again, and then soaked my feet in a nice EB Cellular Cleanse footbath while doing AlphaStim on my earlobes. I felt nice and pampered after all that!

I was still so worn out that I fell asleep reading the newspaper Monday evening around 6 pm and slept almost straight through 12 hours. Wow!

That was truly a great spot; I can't wait to go there again (although I won't try it when it's over 100 deg unless I go early and stay late). Our thanks to everyone who shared the lovely spot with us--wasn't it wonderful? Hope you enjoy the pictures!

No comments: