mrobbins(6b - Brooklyn)July 18, 2011

Do you notice whether you are more at home at sea-level, or the mountains?

I think that we fall into categories of altitude preference just as we prefer cooler or warmer temperatures. I've lived for at least two weeks at all sorts of altitudes, from 50 feet (Brooklyn) to 6,000 feet above sea level (Switzerland). To me, things seem much better between 1,000 - 1,500 feet. Around 2,000 feet the environment becomes a bit too marginal for my tastes; life seems like a more dicey proposition. By the time I reach 5,000 feet I'm thinking in survival mode, but I am also enraptured by the exquisite purity of the air and am thrilled to have a specifically limited amount of time to enjoy it. My father goes hiking a lot at this altitude, and then comes back to sea level here and declares the air "too rich" -- his lungs aren't used to all this oxygen and humidity.

What about you?

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I love to be at sea level. I often wonder if it's just easier "pressure" on my asthmatic lungs. Or the sea air soothes my allergy attacked body. Nashville is in the bottom of a bowl, and that's my least favorite. We are in the central basin of the cumberland Plateau. It protects us from snows, but it's keeps in the stagnant air. We range from about 350-1100 feet above sea level. So not too high.

I think you're onto something, or at least, I agree with your thinking!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 12:07PM
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I have lived at 1700 feet for the last 25+ years and from the beginning I have been comfortable at that altitude. Before then I lived close to sea-level in the LA basin, where comfort had much to do with the air-quality, more than altitude.
We spent much of our vacations in the high Sierras @ about 7000+ft. and the air was thin and so pure. It took several days to become accustomed to the thinner air and cooking became a bit of a problem, had to realize that "boiling" water didn't really have the temperature necessary to cook pasta, for instance.
Now I am happy with both altitude and air quality.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 12:15PM
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In the Tennessee Valley (which is actually in Alabama) we are between 400 and 1500 ft of altitude, depending on if you are near the river or near the big bumps in the ground, or the eastern part or western part of the valley. This valley is about 100 miles long. I've a friend who lives atop Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville. She likes the weather at 1600 feet as opposed to the weather at 500 feet off the mountain in town. She refuses to live off mountain.

It's a know fact that the runners who train themselves to run at high altitudes race better when they race at lower altitudes. It's believed to be why the Kenyan runners tend to be the best in the world. They train at altitudes of up to a mile all their lives. But it's a balancing act. If you stay in one place more than a week or two the body adapst to local conditions and that particular advantage of training at altitude is lost. For most of us mere mortals, anyway.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 12:43PM
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I have lived in Iowa below 1000 ft. and LA basin at 0 ft. to a couple hundred ft. most of my life. I have spent time in Denver and visited most of the national parks at various altitudes. Never thought much about the thin or thick air but the humidity was always noticeable. I miss some aspects of the humid Summers with lightning bugs back east. Now it would likely seem like heavy air to me. I think acclimation to a particular altitude is a determining factor as to where we feel the most comfortable. We are creatures of adaptation and are capable of blooming where we are planted.

A friend and colleague from the community college where I attended then taught would have an open field trip every spring. It was a caravan that started in Hemet Ca. and went up Hwy. 74 over the mountain to Idyllwild. Then we went over Pinion flats through the Big Horn Sheep reserve to end near Palm Springs at the Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitors Center.

The purpose of the field trip was to observe the diversity of native plant life while blooming at different elevations. There were at least 50 stops and later the trip was lengthened and expanded to include geology. We went along the south side of Lake Mathews on Cajalco road and saw some mining operations that exposed different strata and of course more plants. It had turned into a two day affair with camping on Pinion flats.

We experienced 90 degree to snow and back to 90's or more in one or two days and 150 ft. at home, 1512 ft. in Hemet to 8,516 ft. in Idyllwild and then down to 2,643 ft. in Palm Springs. The air is dry as it is mostly desert and the trip was exhilarating in a number of ways. The different plant communities at different elevations are diverse and very interesting. Rock, soils and available water all have an affect on the "feel" of each place as do the trees, plant life and critters. The natives in the deserts and mountains are spectacular when they bloom and Geoff was an inspiring teacher, passionate about his work. It was a popular field trip but alas we lost him to melanoma 5 years ago.

Thanks for the inquiry, very thought invoking.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 1:48PM
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Genetic research has, is and shall be unlocking a lot of issues similar to this. Certain studies into the human genome and population migrations have instituted research into how genetics may influence capabilities of humans to adapt to geographical environmental impacts.

Most of us can agree that organisms can adapt over time to survive or even thrive because some mutations can cause a successful result and those individuals will have reproductive advantages over previous populations, whose genes may eventually be lost to the pool.

However not all genetic material mutates at a constant rate, and some is very persistent in or near its original state over long periods of time. It has been found that mitochondrial DNA changes little over time, and the only mitochondrial DNA passed from mother to child is her line only with no contribution from the paternal line (unlike any other DNA in the body). Therefore a direct line of mtDNA can be traced back for eons through the maternal line only, as the buck stops with a father and his mtDna line is lost to offspring. They will receive the footprint of his wife. But if a person, man or woman can trace back her mother, her mother's mother, her mother's mother's mother the genetic footprint for mtDNA will not change for many, many generations if at all.

Where I'm headed with this is: the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the body. They are the organelles responsible for energy and heat production. This obviously becomes a factor for migrations of people who have historically lived in tropical zones and how succesfully or even whether they can survive in far northern areas. I'm thinking ice ages. I'm thinking quality of life for mobile populations and how 'comfortable' they feel in different geographical locations, I'm thinking compensatory body processes. I'm also thinking of how populations where successful mutations didn't occur could eventually be obliterated.

I have found I have an extremely rare mtDNA genotype. It is not much researched since it does not represent most populations. It is however considered an ancient mutation, and it is found in every corner of the earth at low frequency. It is still as pertinent to me as it would have been to an ancestor thousands of years ago, because it controls my body's energy production and efficiency. It is also thought that at one time, it was not a rare group and occured in much higher frequency in ancient populations. It has been suggested that since this type of DNA doesn't mutate quickly changes in the earth's environment may have played into a near extinction of my genotype. I find this amazingly interesting. It may also play into why I love hot weather or even in what altitude I am most comfortable.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 3:18PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

Hmm....thanks for the lesson suzy...very interesting.
The only time I will say I am more comfortable at sea level is if the sea is lapping at my feet....other than that it doesn't much matter.
I was raised a lowlander....came to Iowa and it wasn't much different. Took a trip to the high Rockys and gasped...pounding heart, head ache a couple of days I acclimated....but the same thing happened a few years later when we went back.

Fast forward a bout 7 or 8 years and we were in a position were we spent a week in the winter and another in the summer at 8,000 feet or above. As the years went on, I found that I adapted much faster to the over night....and others have said the same thing.

A few years back, churches in my town sheltered Hmong people who were escaping from their mountainous homelands. We found them houses and jobs. Taught them English and generally mentored them very well, we thought. But once they got their feet under themselves, they all left. One family at a time they found another place to live. Said Iowa just didn't feel right....and they all left for places with higher altitude. Interesting....

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 4:09PM
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I'[ve lived all my life at or near sea level. I feel comfortable there. From time we/family have travelled to higher altitudes in the the mountains, including the Sierras, let's say 6-7 thousand feet above sea level.
We've done well there, skiing, hiking etc.. no breathing problems etc.

However, when it came to playing tennis in the higher altitude we had a learning curve. The ball kept going out of the lines, a lob turned into a moon ball, lol, nothing worked. A couple on the next court explained that "regular" tennis balls did not work at high altitudes, so we should buy some heavier balls made for high alltitudes. That made a difference.Since somebody has figured out the altitude difference in the tracjectory of a tennis ball, I'm sure there is more to come.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 8:34PM
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gandle(4 NE)

Been thinking about this. Used to set the altimeter at 2533 and have lived most of my life at this, half-mile height. But, when we go to Colorado to visit the tribe which we often do I really don't realize much difference except for much more rapid cooling in the evening. So going between half mile and mile in altitude doesn't seem to affect me in any way. Above about 7000 the difference is very obvious, takes a while to adapt.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 11:32PM
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mrobbins(6b - Brooklyn)

The postings above are interesting, thought-provoking, and edifying. I have missed you guys.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 3:39PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Altitude doesn't seem to affect me; on vacations, DH and DD each took a couple days to adapt to the Rockies, and [at a later time] to the Sierras. It seemed that it took longer for me to remember the differences in cooking times than for them to adjust. I don't think either of them ever commented about feeling a difference at 2,ooo ft. Our mountain house is at 2300, the suburban house is at about 200.

Humidity is the opposite, damp or dry doesn't seem to bother either of them while my misery quotient is directly related to the relative humidity ~ the higher it is the lower my mood and energy level.

A possible genetic relationship to migration is interesting; it looks like I need to do some studying on that in conjunction with the El Nino timelines.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 7:31PM
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I watch American football. Let's say the Broncos v the Raiders. The Raiders live pretty much at sea level, the
Broncos live at a mile high stadium.
It is a classic and long time rivalry. Over the years I've noticed that there seems to a problem with both teams, neither is offerening a practice field to the other team.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 8:08PM
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