The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rocky Mountain Rays

There are several good reasons not to hike near-naked at high altitude, and the intensity of ultraviolet radiation from the sun is just one of them. Did you know that ultraviolet radiation increases by 5% for every 1000 feet of elevation gain? That means the UV rays are 50% stronger at 10,000 feet than at sea level. So sunscreen is good, but perhaps not good enough, and SPF 50 clothing is better. Don’t take my word for it, please check out Colorado Melanoma Foundation’s prevention pamphlet here.

Another good reason to cover up, or at least stash some extra clothing in your pack, is the strong potential for rapid and radical changes in weather conditions along the trail. A warm and sunny day at the trailhead parking lot can turn wet, windy and cold a couple of miles and a thousand feet higher up the trail.

There’s a surefire way to spot an inexperienced mountain hiker from one of the sea level “sand states” like Florida on an alpine trail in the Colorado High Country. He’s the guy with no day pack; bottled water in hand; wearing only a short sleeve tee shirt, shorts, and sport sandals with no socks; and apparently assuming there’ll be cellphone service “up there” if he gets in trouble and wants to call for a rescue. I’ve seen this guy all too many times, even on rugged Fourteener peak trails, and all I can do is hope that getting a bad sunburn is the worst thing that’ll happen to him that day.

I’ll end today’s rant with The Hotel Melanoma rendition of a song I don’t really like, but it fits: “Rocky Mountain Way” from Joe Walsh…

Mountains vast here, Rocky Mountain rays
Couldn't get much higher
Mel’s a bastard, think it's safe to say
Time to don attire

And we don't need the tourists fryin'
'Cause the story's sad
'Cause the Rocky Mountain rays
Are ‘better’ than the rays you’ve had

Well, C's dwellin' on skin and C's spellin’ combat
Changes with ev'ry ray, tan, it doesn't flatter
Bases are loaded and Ray C’s at bat
Playin' it ray by ray, time to change the batter

And we don't need the tourists fryin'
'Cause the story's sad, aha
Rocky Mountain rays
Are ‘better’ than the rays you’ve had
Hey, hey, hey

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