The pine pollen is severe in the Eastern Sierra from about 7000 to 10000 feet elevation. Take an N100 face mask if you suffer from pine pollen allergies. I’ll post a short video when home, showing the clouds of the stuff coming off a pine tree.
I completed Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (hardest double century in the country) on Saturday June 30 (more on that below), but with bronchospasm issues from pine pollen (one thing after another, I guess).
On Sunday (the day after), the inhaler no longer sufficed (kinda like having a couple of bricks on my chest and I could not sleep that way), and I was extremely fatigued from fighting the allergic reaction. So I had to resort to prednisone (a steroid), which takes fluid out of the body, particularly the lungs. It is working, and things should settle down quickly.
Otherwise, extremely fast recovery (legs) with little soreness 36 hours later—thanks to the PEMF device I use, as well as the right kind of protein. These two things have lopped almost two days from my recovery time from double centuries (5-6 days down to 3-4 for full recovery).
The things I thought might go wrong went right. I wore an N100 face mask the first 50 miles or so, but I made the woeful mistake of not wearing it past mile 50 or so.
The problem is that starting around 6000' elevation, aerobic capacity becomes the limiting factor, and my (unusually large*) lungs are sucking in air quite forcefully, which can collapse the mask and impair breathing (much of the mask collapses to the face, so the surface area for air entry is greatly reduced).
So I had to give it up. Bad idea in retrospect—I had to use my inhaler 10-12 times (daily dose is 4 max) and that barely controlled the bronchospasms. My lungs and diaphragm were aching for the last 40 miles. But up Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Pass West it would have been problematic to use a mask: heat and the breathing issue. I need to figure out how to stiffen it so it does not collapse, or find something else.
* My lung capacity is 25% higher than “normal”, so when I inhale, it is a lot of force.