This is a public service announcement going out to all those who believe trekking is a drawn out walk in an exaggerated park. Let me be the one to tell you, just how wrong you are. Similar to adventure sports like base jumping, snowboarding or dirt biking, trekking to has a science behind it. Trekking, being an activity that requires actual human effort, has comparatively greater variables that come into play during a trek.
The Human body, though a beautiful specimen of organic engineering, does have its limits and pushing said limits is not in your best interest, therefore precautions must be taken. Besides of course the more obvious of physical problems like fatigue, pain and an overall sense of anguish that doesn’t seem to subside, one must alway prepare for the less common, but far deadlier situations and eventualities.
The most common illness that is simple enough to prevent yet can develop into something completely terrible and life threatening is Acute Mountain Sickness. AMS as it more natively known is when the Oxygen Saturation in the body is lower than it should be and that leads to fatigue, headache and dizziness. Oxygen Saturation levels indicate the extent to which the haemoglobin in the blood has bonded with oxygen. At sea level, ones O2 Saturation levels are normally at 98-100% saturated. As you go further up, and gain altitude, the air becomes thinner and less dense with oxygen, therefore oxygen saturation tends to fall. After 8000 Ft, anyone is susceptible to AMS as there are many things that can influence AMS. If you end up having AMS, you must be incredibly careful because you run the risk of developing either HAPE (HAPO) or HACE. HAPE is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (Oedema) which means that there is excessive fluid in the lungs. The classic symptom for HAPE is breathlessness even while resting. HAPE is not to be taken lightly, unless acted upon immediately, it can be a fatal condition. Similarly with HACE which is High Altitude Cerebral Oedema, which is fluid in the brain, the symptoms of which are clumsiness, laziness, violence and even loss of consciousness, prior to having fatal effects.
To the trekking aspirants and many others to whom the mountains call, I hope I haven’t scared you off the idea of trekking altogether. It still is amazing, and I love trekking, despite all the potentially fatal experiences. The call of the mountains must be answered, and if you ever intend to go on a trek, these are my personal tips to you. Training is key. Before you take on a trek, the amount you prepare for it and the conditions in which you prepare for it are crucial. When you train for a trek, you must ensure that you have variation in your routine, and that the conditions you train in should be optimal.