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Into Thin Air

Posted Aug 10 2009 4:33pm
On our latest hike to the Mount Timpanogos Cave

Some might consider us decently intelligent people. (At least we'd like to think there are a few out there of that opinion.) Of course, the story I'm about to tell will cure any and all who suffer from such misguided thinking.

We have been absolutely thrilled to have McKay footloose and tube free the past few weeks. So giddy in fact that we've celebrated our freedom by taking our buddy into the great outdoors on a regular basis. I recently shared the pictures and recap of our trip to Bryce Canyon and giggled at how silly McKay was to fall asleep as we summitted a canyon in our ATV, and took a snooze while we traversed the beauty of Bryce's amphitheater. "He's such a good boy, an easy traveler," I thought. What an idiot.

Last Friday we visited with McKay's cardiologist for the official heart cath after party and check up. All was well. McKay's saturations hung between 76-80. Fine for now according to our doc. In fact, his heart is so solid today, you can barely hear any murmur. And to be honest, the doc said, if another physician wasn't aware of McKay's condition they would probably hear nothing wrong with his heart. Unbelievable really.

"But he will still need oxygen if you choose to travel. Airplanes are pressurized to simulate air at about 9,000 feet and I just don't know how McKay would respond to air that thin," she said.

"Uh, I do," I thought as I quickly did the math.

Home: 4,330 feet= Happy McKay




Cottonwood ATV Trail Summit: 11,000 feet=Sleepy McKay


Bryce Canyon: 8,000-9,000 feet=Sleepy McKay



Mount Timpanogos 11,749 feet=Sleepy McKay




Notice the pattern? And no, unfortunately I don't think the hat has anything to do with it.

Whether or not these were honest-to-goodness naps or thin-air induced drowsiness, we'll probably never know. But needless to say I was sick at the thought that we may have put him in danger. Sitting in the exam room, exchanging sheepish glances with Matt, we finally confessed.

"Well..." said the doc in a completely diplomatic way. "It's probably best not spend an extended period of time at those elevations without oxygen support."

Point taken. Lesson learned. Guilt permanent.


We hope you enjoyed the trip boys. The next hike will be a little closer to sea level and level-headed thinking.

***POST SCRIPT: After reading this post Matt thought it important I note that McKay was pink and arousable throughout our experiences and his periods of sleep were not unusually long. He was not at any time passed out or unconscious. We were at least smart enough to check that. :).***

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