Andes Mountain Trek: F.A.Q
Here is the place to get answers to frequently asked questions about Andes Trek 2001 on a variety of different topics. Don't see your question answered here? Send me an E-Mail and I'll answer your question directly and post your question and my answer on this page.
What Should I Do to Get in Shape?
- Run and hike. I am a jogger and a hiker myself and in pretty good aerobic condition although I intensify my efforts beginning 20 weeks before the actual hike. In 1999 I was running 3 miles 5-6 days per week. Although my cardiovascular system was well tuned for 1999, my leg muscles could have used more work. So this year I am running but I have added a lot of hiking. I have hiked all through the winter on weekends, sometimes hiking 16 miles in 5 hours. This is not only a great aerobic workout but also good for the muscles in the legs.
How Will the High Altitude Affect Me?
- Altitude sickness affects everyone differently. Much depends on the level of your physical conditioning but not always. Even Edmund Hilary experienced altitude sickness in his older years. Some people are not affected at all, others can become sick. We are not hiking at "altitude extremes," and may not hike above 13,000 feet on the 2001 Trek. In 1999, we twice hiked over 15,500 feet. I experienced shortness of breath from about 13,000 feet and higher, and on some days, a splitting headache by day's end. It is important to be in good aerobic condition before leaving for this hike. A day or two of acclimatization at 10,000 feet in Huaraz is the most important step. While on the trek, it is important to keep yourself well hydrated. I consumed approximately 5 liters of water daily. There is a medicine available for altitude sickness called Diamox (acetazolamide) but this only helps to shorten acclimatization by roughly 12 hours. I usually bring some with me but have only dispensed it to others who needed it and never used it myself. The Quechua who will accompany us on the hike will brew coca tea, and two steaming cups laced with sugar at day's end was usually enough to do away with any migraine-like symptoms I experienced. To read more about Altitude sickness, check out "High Altitude" on the American Heart Association's Website and "The High Altitude Medicine Guide" (this is the best). Please note, we will not be hiking at altitudes that can cause HACE or HAPE.
How Cold Does it Get at Night and How Can I Stay Warm and Comfortable?
- The temperature depends on the altitude. In 1999, the first night we camped on the outskirts of Cashapampa at the entrance to Huascaran National Park at about 10,000 feet. It never got lower than 50 degrees F that first evening and I was able to sleep in a pair of underwear. The evenings we camped at higher elevation however did get colder and twice, it dipped to 25 degrees F and the outside of the tent was covered with frost. I have a down mummy bag rated to 0 degrees F and a self inflating air mattress. The mattress keeps you off the cold, hard ground. For really cold evenings you can wear a pair of very light thermals and also a hat. But as soon as you wake up, you'll need to change into something dry or you will be cold, damp (from perspiring all night in your sleeping clothes) and miserable.
What Will We Eat?
- Glad you asked this one! For breakfast, we'll have instant oatmeal. Bring your own hot beverage. (My favorite was packets of cappuccino in a variety of flavors). If you visit your local camping store, you might like to consider picking up a few pouches of hot granola mix which you will be able to cook just like the oatmeal we will provide). For lunch and dinner, we will have a variety of things like lasagna, sweet and sour chicken, Mexican tortillas, turkey Tetrazinni, spaghetti and meatballs, seafood chowder and beef stew. It's all dehydrated and you simply add boiling water to it and let it steep for ten minutes or so but it is delicious and you'll be so hungry, you'll enjoy every mouthful. In 1999, I got nothing but praise from the guys on the hike. You should bring snacks with you for the trail. Granola bars and bags of dried fruit and nuts seemed to be the most popular snacks. Some of the guys brought beef jerky. I brought "Power Bars" for the extra protein.
Where Do I Go to the Bathroom?
- Anywhere you like! Seriously, if you get the urge for #2 along the trail, my advice is to wander off until you are out of site (and downwind from the rest of us), pick a comfy rock that you can squat and lean against and do your thing. Bring a roll of toilet paper and a small box of "Wet Wipes." You might also consider a small tube of "A&D" ointment...One thing you don't want is a rash! There were some "outhouses" at the campsites on the Santa Cruz trail but these were more for privacy than luxury. They were small, brick buildings with raised concrete structures close to the floor resembling the shape of a toilet seat. Frankly, I preferred the great outdoors!
How will I feel at the End of the Day?
- Tired! On the days we walked seven hours, I had a splitting headache. And then I had to set up my tent