Going to the dark side


It’s hard to pinpoint the beginning of my downward spiral,  but for someone who’s middle name might just as well be Polyanna ,  dancing with the dark side is not my idea of fun and definitely not the person who was/is gunning for a trip like this.   In retrospect, both Gary and I suspect it started when I was recently sick.   For those of you who know me well it’s common knowledge that I ward off illness with a silver cross.  With a long standing family pathology around illness, just saying….. being sick can put me in a serious state of panic.  

The day after Gary and I returned to Huaraz (10,300 ft) from a 3 day trek to 16,568 ft I came down with a crushing headache and nausea which layed me out for 24 hours.   The trek was not particularly difficult so it must be a cerebral anneruism,  (I know some of you are smiling),  right? An email to my brother Rikki reduces the idea to a simple case of altitude sickness.  I’m good with that.   Enough said… I’m up and running in a day.  

The following day we did a bike ride to 13,180.  No headache pre,  during, or post,  so why did it so impressively kick my ass…..and the bike wasn’t even loaded!  Gary thinks it was because I had been sick,  but I’m not buying it. I prefer to go to the dark side.

Now, having this ride eat my lunch dug up a solid fear that the Andes, with their impressive altitudes, were simply out of my league.   There is no way that I can ride my loaded bike over 15,000 ft passes.   Add pushing 60 years old to the mix and I’m heading for a roll that I’m in way over my head.  Gary,  bless his heart,  knows not to intervein at times like these as it can only piss me off.   Instead he’s calm and supportive,  a skill he’s acquired from many years of being together.   He waits for it to end as it always does.

A roll is useless if it gathers no momentum,  right?   With my newly amped state, going to town, with all the people, noise,  cars,  honking, garbage and confusion adds yet another layer to the boil and I’m now seriously wondering if I can endure this for months to come.  Compounding this is my constant language ineptitude and an inability to communicate –  not a good mix.   I’m rolling pretty well now and everything is bugging.   I talk to my friend Susan and a core desire emerges tempting me to go home where we have friends and family,  know the language, know the culture,  life is easy,  comfy,  but most of all where I know I can climb those mountains.


17 thoughts on “Going to the dark side

  1. Patti,
    You do what you want to do but it takes more than one day to get over altitude sickness. Maybe you need to lay around another couple of days.
    love ya

  2. Dearest Patti,
    Thank you for pouring your heart out like that, Your an amazing women in more ways than one. You guys have just gone balls to the wall (Crazy term) Since WAY before you left and then jumped on those bikes and hit it hard! You have needed this break but maybe 10,300.
    is still to high. Can you get to lower ground in an area as peaceful or better? On the other hand one year is a long time and there is no place like home Dorothy :~) I so wish I could head your direction immediately upon landing, it’s tearing me up, especially now:~( We will for sure mid Nov. Brigida said. Miss you and Love you sooooo much, do what feels right !

    1. Love you Kim!!! All better now… I guess everyone needs a day trip to the dark side. We’re bee here at Joe’s Place for almost 3 weeks now and Gary and I are trying to figure out our next move, but it won’t happen till after we get the panniers – let’s keep trying to make a plan to meet up… You’re right.. No place like home, but if we could meet up with someone from home – that would be awesome…

  3. With my newly amped state, going to town, with all the people, noise, cars, honking, garbage and confusion adds yet another layer to the boil

    ok, this probably isn’t a Good Idea (consider the source) – maybe embrace the madness? Go get a taxi: fill the trunk with garbage, drive around town incessantly honking the horn, and yelling at people!

    uhhh . . . maybe that won’t help . . .

  4. Patti, we love and miss you but your family and friends will always be here…. Don’t give up yet on this opportunity that is rare – give yourself a week or two to get back on your feet and back to your HEALTHYself! You had more than altitude sickness ; you also had a bug before that so give yourself more time to heal. (Not to mention that little bit of homesickness). Love you bunches and will be thrilled to see you whenever you get back to home…..

    1. Awesome Rita…. Thanks for the encouragement!!! Love that!! I’m all better now… It’s your little brother now who has a travelers stomach bug and looks like he’s getting a cold so we’ll be here a while longer… It’s been 3 weeks already and starting to feel like locals… Love you, and really do miss everyone a bunch!!!

  5. Sounds like a classic case of altitude sickness and overreaction. My prescription: a night or two of SEVERAL cold beers at a local making friends; well, maybe more than two. But you get the idea….right? RELAX. Maybe you’re trying too hard. Maybe you guys ought to try smaller steps. 60….what’s 60? Just a number. Forget about it and get off the dime and think about FUN!!! Who gives a fuck how old you are?
    Anyway…you guys are great and I’m totally jealous of the time you get to spend wherever you are. Again…..this is supposed to be about fun!! Fun is one of the best things to have.

    1. Thanks woody… All better now…. Just a serious case of self doubt… We’ve been here I in huaraz for going on 3 weeks, eating, making some friends, and resting till my eyes are blurry, short of a few side trips.. So not to worry… Fun is being had… Thanks for being a good friend and an awesome senior roll model!!!!

  6. Patti and Gary, You have been treating this year of adventure as if it is only a few months long. Always on the go having to ride or hike the next trail. You don’t seem to have any down time. Just kicking back and relaxing. Find a quiet place and read a book. Sit and knit several pairs of socks 😉
    After being sick and then hit with altitude sickness you need to give yourself time to recover. Not just a day or two. It’s not easy being away from those that bring you comfort when you don’t feel well. But we are with you in spirit and ready to lend you our strength to carry on. This may be a good time to find a family you can live with and learn Spanish.
    Love you always. KD

    1. Hi kd… You’re sweet, thanks for the response!! I’m better now… Just had a good case of self doubt.. Taking a break is important – we’ve been here in huaraz at Joe’s Place for almost 3 weeks and it’s been awesome to just kick back, make some friends and take a few side trips and treks and eat and eat and eat.. But now my feet are getting itchy and I can’t knit and read too much more. We’re waiting for Kim to bring some panniers and then we should be off…. Not sure where, we’re at a bit of a crossroads. I still get seriously homesick sometimes so your message was awesome!!!!

    1. Ha!!! I can always count on you for a little comic relief!! I think a swim up bar is in order… All better now, just had a serious case of self doubt!!! Thanks for commenting 🙂

      1. I’m Wth Mary. Hey, thanks for putting this into words! This is how I feel almost every time I go to high altitude. I always get headachy, totally crabby and when I’m in it, it takes me awhile to reaize it’s just the f-ing ALTITUDE that amplifies the “dark” side – because thinking, breathing, etc is not as efficient. I don’t sleep as well, etc. Heck when I moved from England to Boulder it was weeks of riding around wondering why I was SUCKING for air on the bike and feeling like crap even just walking around. I totally totally get the overreaction and making it a big dark drama, and I’m glad you’re fine now – Just remember, when you start to feel like sh-t, it is just your body and mind are asking for some gentleness.- and it will reward you if you pay heed immediately and give it what it needs!

      2. Amy love!!! Thanks for the comment.. Yeah, after feeling like a million dollars in Europe this altitude is something to behold. I Love high altitude but riding over 12,500 is a whole different beast. I can hike till the cows come home short of a headache, but the bike is a different can of worms. Everyone says it gets better… Miss you. Hi to Dallas!

  7. Hey Patti,

    You know how it is with Jay and Gary. GO go go go go. I feel your pain. Jay and I have had many issues while traveling and not enough me time. I know how frustrating it can be. Altitude is a bugger too. A wonderful town in Peru is Ariquipa. Not sure how to spell it. It is south. A lot warmer and lower and a wonderful town with a great plaza and lots of volcanoes to climb and a huge canyon to explore. The weather is like California. We took a bus from Cusco to Puno then to Ariquipa. Very chill place and not crazy noisy or crowded like Cusco. HOpe you hang in there, I know I get homesick after a couple of months too. We just finished paddling Lake Powell for 10 days and are in AZ now, biking. Heading to Baja for a couple of months soon. Love ya Jane and Jay

    1. Hey Jane.. Thanks so much for the comment and suggestion… We’ve heard from a lot of people that ariquipa is awesome… It’s on the list just not sure where at the moment. Sadly, I can’t blame Gary for the gogogo thing… I’m just as bad if not worse at least one on this trip… Uummm… Canyons and the desert… Sounds wonderful. Hi to Jay… Pk

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