I didn’t even want to take this hike. Not because it is strenuous, but I doubt the scenery is any good. As I hike more and I am in a spectacular area, I become “pickier”—only want to hike the trails with the sceneries I love. I’ve never been too interested in trails around Flagstaff. Without red rock, and with lots of woods, they are just not my favorite places to hike, especially when I am surrounded by my beloved red rocks. But my friend, Phil, convinced me. Being the highest point in Arizona, I ought to hike up to it, at least once. So I did with Phil and five of his friends.
The Humphreys Trail starts at 9266 feet. It is a strenuous steep trail of about 10 miles (rt) with elevation gain of 3367 feet. From some reason I felt tired, even from the beginning of the hike. I yawned so many times that I felt silly. I have never yawned like that during a hike! Perhaps it was because I didn’t sleep too well and woke up too early, I thought.
About half way up, I started to feel lightheaded, yawned even more, and joked I walked as if I was drunk. Then it occurred to me that I probably had “altitude sickness”. Such “sickness” commonly happens above 8000 feet and the symptoms resemble a case of flu, carbon monoxide poisoning, or a hangover—what exactly I experienced. The strange thing is I have been to such high altitude and I was fine before.
I huffed and puffed—I was much slower than normal. The last one mile toward the top seemed more than twice the length! I was so tired, and my head started to hurt as well. It wasn’t painful, yet. But I felt the pressure and tightness. Thankfully Phil stayed with me. If it were for his encouragement, I don’t know whether I would go all the way to the top. “I am going to fake a smile,” I said, when I had my picture taken at the sign. 🙂
By the time we finished 13 hours later (including driving), not only I had pretty bad headache, but also I felt nausea. I had to take a painkiller in order to stop the headache. All I wanted to do at that point was going home, taking a quick shower, and lying down in my comfy bed! And that was what I did. 🙂
Oh, the scenery isn’t breathtaking (the wildflowers are impressive), but it is worthy to try it and take a look. I am glad I did it, although I wouldn’t admit it if you asked me when I was in pain last night. Will I hike up the same trail again? Probably not. 🙂