Altitude Sickness

Amazing feats that had nothing to do with me

By Brady Crain

The mountains looked inverted due to the refractive effects of an atmospheric thermocline. This happens when a layer of warm air slides over a layer of cold air. When I went up the chairlift I moved through different refractive “interpretations” of the far off mountains, which finally start to recede as you approached the flat angle of the altitude of the thermocline.

I did absolutely nothing of import this week, and it was everything that I had hoped that it would be. There were, however, two events of importance that had very little to do with me.

First, our illustrious editor Polly Lynn deserves mad props for being The Fittest Bride in all of the known universe. Congratulations, Polly! You beat some of he best athletes in the world!  Now that you have earned yourself a grand wedding at Joe DeSena’s farm house, worth $50,000,  I have some questions:

I definitely want an invite to the wedding, because I have never seen an obstacle wedding…Will your wedding be a Sprint? A Beast? An Ultra? Will your wedding be a 14-hour slog through mud and barbed wire?

Will the guests have to climb Killington Peak twice? Will the aisle be twice as long when you leave as husband and wife as when you walked down it as fiancees? Will the groom (or bride?) be forced to literally wear a ball and chain? Or perhaps you will be chained together and forced to bury each other (‘til Death Race do you part!) after a 36 hour wedding marathon? Instead of just kissing at the end of the ceremony, will you be required to make out for an hour? Or will you choose to burpee out of the kissing obstacle so as to not embarrass your mother?  When the groom, chained to the bride, carries her over the threshold, will he first have to give her a bucket full of gravel to hold while he carries her up a hill and around an obstacle, and jump over a fire carrying the bride and bucket into the wedding chamber?

Will your hundreds of guests descend on Joe DeSena’s farm and tear around it turning it into a giant mud puddle? Will you wear a compression gown? Will your wedding shoes be Solomon or Reebok? Will the hors d’oeuvres be raw eggs? Will the toasts be performed with pickle juice? Will Prozac, Zoloft, Viagra, and Cialis be considered performance enhancing drugs in the sport of obstacle of matrimony?

I think the obstacle wedding will be the new thing that all the kids do. Set the trend!

I personally had an obstacle marriage, as opposed to an obstacle wedding. Luckily my marriage was a sprint and not a Beast or an Ultra, a fitting end to our obstacle relationship of four years.

The second important event this week was something totally wild at Killington. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I do not mean the eight days in a row of skiing in October, although that was impressive, too. As I was riding “the gondi” up to the top, about halfway up, I noticed that something weird was going on with the mountains…there was a giant black cloud on top of them, but I noticed it was changing.

Eventually, the mountains started growing straight up, and then one peak inverted, and I realized that I was looking at an upside down mirror image of the mountains. But how?

It took me a few minutes to figure it out (and I’m not certain of it, but it is the only explanation that works): what I think was happening was the refractive effects of an atmospheric thermocline. A layer of warm air slides over a layer of cold air, for instance, perhaps at about 4,400 feet, and as you go up the chairlift you move through different refractive “interpretations” of the far off mountains, which finally start to recede as you approached the flat angle of the altitude of the thermocline.

It was beyond surreal.

People out on the slopes saw that the mountains looked funny, but no one seemed to notice the way they progressed and grew until I pointed it out, and people were stunned.

Describing this with words is nearly pointless, and a technical description is lacking without a cocktail napkin and a Sharpie. But suffice it to say, this is a common issue with submarines. A submarine in a lower cold layer of water will have to send up a communication buoy if there is a layer of warmer water above, because sonar and RF signals both will bounce right back to the submarine when they hit an aquatic thermocline.

Essentially it was an upside down mirage, but without the degradation of visual signal caused by the convection of hot air rising off of a flat surface (such as a road or desert sand). I took pictures of it, but all I had was a smartphone, I did not have an SLR camera. One of the few times I have regretted not having one.

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