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Peter (Madison) I've been loving the photos you're posting from your trip... such brilliant light, saturated colors and spectacular scenery. I was reading a book by a Buddhist teacher this morning who made reference to a person who hiked in high elevations and spoke about the altered state that develops in those conditions. I wonder if you experienced anything like that during your hike? Since I seldom find myself very far from sea level I don't have experience here. The time I hiked in the Sandia mountains outside Albuquerque, getting above ten thousand feet simply produced nausea... Of course...Show more →
altered state probably doesn't refer to AMS (acute mountain sickness), HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema), or HACE (high altitude cerebral edema). All of these are nasty, the second and third can be fatal. The physical stress of high altitude exposure takes a special approach, and over years of doing this you learn how hour body responds and plan your days leading into a bigger trip appropriately. I usually only need 2 days to get comfortable up to 12,000 feet, and another day or two for 14,000. When doing long hikes like we do, you get pretty fully acclimated by the end of it that 14,000 really only feels like 8000 feet.
Now, hiking for 7-9 hours a day with a 45 pound pack, climbing between 3000 and 6000 elevation feet with that load on trails in a place where all sounds are natural, can get your mind into a state that's not necessarily trance, but you're becoming part of the place, your body just doing its thing, and your mind focused on few other things than what rock to place your next step on. The world suddenly gets very simple - walk, eat, drink, sleep, see the world, occasionally take a photo when you see something that looks worth shooting.
I do this for many reasons. If I wanted to take just great landscape photos, I'd probably do it very differently, day to two day hikes, pushing in over trailheads with lots of gear. But we enjoy the long trips, the complete break with the outside world for weeks. It becomes a completely different existence for a brief time, which when you return to civilization puts everything into a slightly different light. Things everyone takes for granted, like fresh food, refrigeration, running water, a proper bathroom, a power outlet to charge your camera battery - all this suddenly is amplified, and you appreciate the little things around you much more.
a few more with the 20mm - the lens has definitely earned its place in my hiking kit. it is so light and small for what it can do. I will just have to make sure I use the 72mm polarizer on it in the future (with adapter to get the corner vignetting under control)