Grand Tetons, Death's Shelf | M.H.Sep 13, 2019

Grand Tetons, Death's ShelfGrand Teton National Park

#Sports, #Outdoors, #Insulation, #Mountaineering, #Hiking, #Research

There's no room for ego when you're in the wilderness or backcountry. The mountain does not care who you are. Hopefully you're lucky enough to appreciate the moment it strips you to the core of your humanity as it can be a beautiful, humbling and transformative experience.
Someone from our group had become ill the night before, lost a substantial amount of fluids, was unable to eat and could not keep down a teaspoon of water before violently vomiting. In other words, this person was extremely sick. Their illness appeared out of nowhere - we had all been extremely diligent in purifying our water, staying hydrated while taking plenty of breaks to eat hearty meals and healthy snacks.
We agreed that the only option was to stick to our original plan which was to hike out immediately. We had enough wilderness first-aid skills to assess the illness as non-life threatening. On the verge of blacking out at some particularly terrifying moments, they managed to regain and maintain coherency. We changed our route to shorten the distance, packed up our gear and left. What should have been an easy downhill 2-hour hike turned into 8 hours of exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration and dizzy spells that required frequent stops and was characterized by a pace of what felt like one step forward, two steps back.
Most people who have spent any amount of time enjoying the outdoors have experienced some terrifying story of survival. Every passer-by shared their tale of what they thought was a battle for survival: "The day I got hypothermia and peed myself," "The time I got heat stroke during the Rim to Rim and crawled into a cave for five hours to cool down," etc. All of us radiating a gratitude that only a near-death experience can evoke.
At some point no amount of technical experience or physical strength can protect you from the unrelenting elements or set of circumstances. In the end, it's about being kind not just to the earth and others, but also yourself. Here is my list of recommended medications to pack in your first-aid kit to help mitigate nausea and other exhaustion related ailments:

  • Electrolytes. Grab a bottle of Gatorade from the gas station before you head out for a long day hike or single overnight backpacking trip. If minimizing weight is your priority you can purchase powder sticks in advance to pour into your water bottle as needed, though they tend to leave a residual odor that is difficult to wash out.
  • Antacids. Make sure that packaged foods are properly hydrated to avoid gastric distress. If you are particularly prone to nausea or vomiting then it may be worth seeing your doctor for prescription strength medication.
  • Diamode. When trying to cover significant mileage the last thing you want are frequent stops to dig a cat hole slowing you down. Why not just bring a few of these instead.
  • Iodine or Aquamira. Depending on what your primary means for water purification, you should always have a couple back-ups. Giardia is not a memento you want to bring home from your adventures.
  • Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Pain medications are a must for me on my travels, but please take care that you are drinking plenty of fluids and not masking symptoms through over use of super helpful hiking buddies.

    For more information about First Aid from the pros: