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Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Hiker Dies in Big Bend

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Offline presidio

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2014, 12:32:24 PM »
Good to have you back Presidio

Thank you, sir.

Presidio
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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2014, 12:38:35 PM »
You never fail me, Presidio.  Consistent pain in the ass to the Gov't clowns. Good to read you again ole friend.

www.virtualbigbend. com - now mobile friendly!


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Offline presidio

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2014, 12:42:06 PM »
You never fail me, Presidio.  Consistent pain in the ass to the Gov't clowns. Good to read you again ole friend.

Thank you.

Blush!

-P-
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline iCe

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2014, 01:13:00 PM »
You never fail me, Presidio.  Consistent pain in the ass to the Gov't clowns. Good to read you again ole friend.

www.virtualbigbend.com - now mobile friendly!


+1
Like
whatever other button that is a lazy way to reflect agreement on the web <-- like this I suppose

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2014, 03:29:45 PM »
Presidio, your fourth point is right on. While I don't really notice elevation at all until at least 8000 ft, I have a friend in his 50s who starts to be affected at 5000 ft. So he notices the elevation on the window.

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Offline billh

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2014, 03:46:06 PM »
my wife and I, both in our 50's and both pretty fit, were breathing heavy on the Lost Mine Trail, which I attributed to the increased altitude from Dallas. Also, we hiked the window on Tuesday of that same week. I walked to the window and then walked back to get the car and meet my family at the Comanche Marker Tree. I walked back with two girls in their 20's. I was huffing at the end of the hike. I wouldn't call the walk easy, and it just might be too much for someone not in great shape.

the real point is that people just shouldn't overestimate what they can do. Mostly though we should pause in sadness for someone's family and friend being lost but as others have commented, I sure wouldn't mind my last day on this planet being there in Big Bend.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2014, 12:54:37 AM »
I sure wouldn't mind my last day on this planet being there in Big Bend.

But, the NPS would rather you didn't do it in the park. Beyond the adrenaline junkies that thrive on disaster and rescues and such, the big let down is all the paperwork such incidents require after the excitement is over.
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2014, 10:47:39 PM »
Presidio, your fourth point is right on. While I don't really notice elevation at all until at least 8000 ft, I have a friend in his 50s who starts to be affected at 5000 ft. So he notices the elevation on the window.

One curious thing I've noted is that I rarely feel any effects from elevation despite the fact that I live at an elevation of just over 700 feet.  The only times I've ever felt winded at high altitudes is when I've gone up steep trails to high peaks, such as when I hiked to the summit of Mt. Wheeler, the highest peak in New Mexico at almost 13,200 feet, and even then I didn't really feel it until I left Williams Lake below it, at about 11,000 feet.  A hike into the Chisos doesn't seem any more taxing than would a walk of that distance up an incline of about 10% near sea level.  My best guess as to why I can do this is because I incorporate lap swimming into my exercise routine.  If you're doing lap swimming, you can't breathe whenever you want, so I think I've gotten myself acclimated to exertion under reduced oxygen conditions.  When I travel to higher-altitude areas, I do try to spend a night at altitude before tackling any activities just to make sure I'm acclimatized.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2014, 11:18:09 PM »
Presidio, your fourth point is right on. While I don't really notice elevation at all until at least 8000 ft, I have a friend in his 50s who starts to be affected at 5000 ft. So he notices the elevation on the window.

One curious thing I've noted is that I rarely feel any effects from elevation despite the fact that I live at an elevation of just over 700 feet.  The only times I've ever felt winded at high altitudes is when I've gone up steep trails to high peaks, such as when I hiked to the summit of Mt. Wheeler, the highest peak in New Mexico at almost 13,200 feet, and even then I didn't really feel it until I left Williams Lake below it, at about 11,000 feet.  A hike into the Chisos doesn't seem any more taxing than would a walk of that distance up an incline of about 10% near sea level.  My best guess as to why I can do this is because I incorporate lap swimming into my exercise routine.  If you're doing lap swimming, you can't breathe whenever you want, so I think I've gotten myself acclimated to exertion under reduced oxygen conditions.  When I travel to higher-altitude areas, I do try to spend a night at altitude before tackling any activities just to make sure I'm acclimatized.
My wife won't admit it, but she had some altitude sickness in the Basin a few years ago. She used to get it all the time on ski trips, but that was usually several thousand feet higher. Altitude sickness is hard to predict. It can hit anyone, regardless of their conditioning.

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Offline Clare

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2014, 12:26:48 PM »

8 hours driving to get there with an a/c working to de-hydrate you, step out into a much higher elevation, most tourists don't ever walk anywhere to begin with.  It all adds up.....
Forgive me, since I've never been and my first trip will be next year, but are you saying it takes 8 hours to get to the window trail from the cabins (chisos basin), or 8 hours is the amount of time that most people spend driving just to reach the park (since it is remote)?

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Offline iCe

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2014, 02:03:13 PM »

8 hours driving to get there with an a/c working to de-hydrate you, step out into a much higher elevation, most tourists don't ever walk anywhere to begin with.  It all adds up.....
Forgive me, since I've never been and my first trip will be next year, but are you saying it takes 8 hours to get to the window trail from the cabins (chisos basin), or 8 hours is the amount of time that most people spend driving just to reach the park (since it is remote)?
The window trail isn't 8 hours long. I can't tell you how long it will take because you may be faster or slower than I am. It takes me 10 hours to get to the park if I don't stop and "see things" which never happens.

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2014, 02:03:47 PM »
An 8 hour drive to the park.  The Windows Trail trailhead is in the Basin and only about a 5 minute walk from the cabins.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline Clare

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2014, 05:56:13 PM »
Ah, ok.  Thank y'all.  I thought about it later, like, Wait, no, I'm not making any sense--the park can't be big enough for a drive from the cabins to a trail to take eight hours.  Thanks for clearing that up.

Sorry to read that someone passed away on a trail.  It might very well be what some of y'all have already said--it could have happened while he was seated at a desk as easily as on the trail.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2014, 09:49:44 AM »
One curious thing I've noted is that I rarely feel any effects from elevation despite the fact that I live at an elevation of just over 700 feet.  The only times I've ever felt winded at high altitudes is when I've gone up steep trails to high peaks, such as when I hiked to the summit of Mt. Wheeler, the highest peak in New Mexico at almost 13,200 feet, and even then I didn't really feel it until I left Williams Lake below it, at about 11,000 feet.  A hike into the Chisos doesn't seem any more taxing than would a walk of that distance up an incline of about 10% near sea level.  My best guess as to why I can do this is because I incorporate lap swimming into my exercise routine.  If you're doing lap swimming, you can't breathe whenever you want, so I think I've gotten myself acclimated to exertion under reduced oxygen conditions.  When I travel to higher-altitude areas, I do try to spend a night at altitude before tackling any activities just to make sure I'm acclimatized.

Physical conditioning and age are primary factors. However, thinner air is thinner air. If you were to use a pulse oximeter you would find that your oxygen saturation at 5,000' would be different than at your residence. You are affected, but your physical condition compensates. At the elevations in Big Bend, the amount of oxygen in the air is the same as at sea level. It's the vapor pressure that decreases and affects the body's ability to keep up.

Natives living at extremely high altitudes in the Andes Mountains have enlarged lung capacity; a response to the thin air.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS: altitude sickness) most commonly is noted above 8,000'. However, high altitude also is commonly considered to begin at 1500 meters (4900'), so high altitude exists by definition in Big Bend.

HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) has been noted as low as 4,900', so it could occur in Big Bend. HACE (cerebral version) is much less common and generally occurs at altitudes higher than are common in the US. These are genuine medical emergencies requiring immediate action.

When HAPE or HACE occurs, the only remedy is to immediately move to lower elevations. These conditions would manifest after AMS is noted.

Now, while it's unlikely that HAPE would be noted in Big Bend, the occurrence of AMS (even in mild form) in susceptible individuals would place further physiological stress on the body. It could have been an additional factor in the death that occurred, beyond likely being out of shape and overexerting oneself in thinner air.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline badknees

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Re: Hiker Dies in Big Bend
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2014, 05:41:45 PM »
At the elevations in Big Bend, the amount of oxygen in the air is the same as at sea level. It's the vapor pressure that decreases and affects the body's ability to keep up.


Percentage - wise only, that is correct, but lower partial pressure at altitude changes the absolute quantity/unit volume.
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