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The effects of altitude

Out There
Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

What it is about high elevation and feeling so deeply?

Last weekend I hiked Sopris. As I pulled myself up and down that ridiculously steep trail, all these thoughts came rushing to me. I was thinking about my past relationships and moves, about things I want to do with my life. I felt naked and raw the whole time. There were lots of pockets of lightness ” like when my friends and I danced to the full moon or played a Jim Beam-induced game of Mad Libs. But there was also just a lot of me, walking on my own, tears welling up behind my eyes. It wasn’t that I felt sad. I just felt.

I guess that’s what nearly 13,000 feet will do to you.



I remember feeling the same way nine years ago, when my family took a road trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park. I don’t know what peak we were on, but we pulled over at the top of it, and everyone got out. My dad started crying, and I think I did a little bit, too. He told us he loved us so much, and it felt in complete context. It was so green and vast and intense up there. You couldn’t help but be affected. After that, we called my father “girlie man” for a while, but I think we all understood it was only in the most affectionate way. High elevation, we could see, is a doozy.

After living most of my life in spitting distance of sea level, the difference is jarring and obvious, practically slapping me across the face at times.



How refreshing.

It’s not everywhere that you can climb or drive up a mountain top and experience that. So many people don’t get to enter that alternate world, where your breathing is shallow and your emotions are right on the surface. As much as I love looking into the endless expanse of the ocean, I’m beginning to realize this mountain thing has its merits, too.

These next few days, I don’t think I’m going anywhere. I’m not venturing into the stratosphere. Yet I love that I could, that we all can. I like knowing that there’s this other reality, only a few thousand (vertical) feet away.

That’s for another weekend, though ” when I need another good cry.


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