After we have passed the first 3000 meters of altitude, the low oxygen causes me obvious struggles, and from 4000 meters of altitude on I have to fight a lot. The flowers and plants in the landscape begin to disappear and it is more and more of a much more sparse vegetation. And it's getting colder. In addition, there are hardly any flat itineraries, but it is constantly uphill or downhill on dirt paths, over gravel roads or shaky suspension bridges.
I get out of breath and sweat a lot. The regular drinking breaks in the tea-houses are a welcome recovery. I can see that my body reacts differently here than I'm used to it in normal conditions. What would be a breeze in lower climes is a real challenge at this level. In brief, I breath l like a walrus and I'm slow like a snail. And there is this constant feeling of pressure in my head and swollen limbs. My body tells me clearly in its words: you don't belong here!
Also I'm watching young hikers pass by me and play football in the breaks. I feel getting impatient and dissatisfied with myself and start hiking a little faster. But my guide sees everything and always advises me not to be too fast. He's hiking close to look after me. And he even gives me a rhythm to follow: one step = one breath. Every felt 10 min, he asks me to drink a sip of water, 4 liters a day.
Patience has never been one of my special strengths, and now I am supposed to slow down to slowness????!!! This is a real challenge for me... after all, I was trained to speed and performance all these years...
After all, I reached my destination every time, at slow time but safe. At a snail's pace, often as one of the last, but without the altitude sickness. Then, I heard from some other faster hikers of complaints such as headache, nausea and diarrhea, typical first signs of altitude sickness that, unfortunately will only become apparent later, and only when the body has not had enough time to get used to the altitude and produce more red blood cells for the oxygen transportation.
I was glad to have listened to my guide and to have taken his advice. Sometimes another person sees more and can help to see yourself much clearer. And I can sympathize with how my clients often may feel and look irritated at me sometimes when I also have to put on "the brake". ;D And what do I learn personally from this: Not always are speed and performance thinking of advantage, but SLOWNESS AND PATIENCE lead safely, step by step to your goal! It only takes longer! ;D