2 days to go.
Bumthang, Bhutan is 9,000 feet (about 2,700 meters) above sea level. Seeing as I’ve lived almost my entire life in New York City (at sea level), I think the altitude is going to be quite a shock. But I think I’m about as prepared as I could be. I even went to a lecture about exercising in preparation for living at altitude in June! I learned that everyone adjusts to altitude differently, and altitude sickness definitely exists, but some experience it more than others. It typically takes three weeks for your heart and lungs to fully acclimatize to being at altitude, but unfortunately you lose the benefits after less than a week when you return to lower elevation! Too bad. Considering I’ll be in India right after being in Bhutan, maybe I should sign up for a marathon there… (just kidding).
The SFS program has emphasized how much trekking and outdoor research we will be doing. With classes and activities six days per week and no break, I can believe it! So I have also been preparing for the altitude and trekking by seriously upping my exercise program this summer. I have way better endurance than I used to. I’ve been running, biking, lifting weights, walking a lot, and doing yoga and pilates. I feel pretty good, but I probably won’t feel so great the first few days in Bhutan when I am winded just by walking up stairs.
But all this worry about altitude and fitness will be worth it (hopefully) because look at these mountains.
Kula Kangri, Bhutan’s tallest mountain (24,731 feet, which is 7,538 m).
This is what I’ll wake up to every day, and what I get to explore.
It seems worth it to me.