All posts by Terrence E. Sweeney Ph.D.

Day 3 – Bear Creek Preserve Hike

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The intrepid Riley

Today, the class took a trip south to visit and hike portions of the vast 3,412 acre Bear Creek Preserve, just off Route 115. We were guided by Joe Vinton, the preserve manager, and his intrepid dog Riley.

The preserve is privately owned by the Natural Lands Trust. This organization  receives its funding from private donors and grants, and directs money toward projects centered on the restoration and preservation of forest lands. The preserve is considered a successional forest, meaning that the canopy has been removed in some segments, allowing lower vegetation to flourish and eventually supplant the taller trees. The forest is only 80 to 90 years of age, relatively young compared to similar ecosystems in the area.

The preserve is home to numerous species of flora and fauna, including bears, coyotes, songbirds, and the rare fly poison plant. The Natural Lands Trust also created vernal pools, or seasonal pools of water too shallow for fish, to help to encourage growth in the amphibian population and provide water sources for native animals.

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Extreme Physiology crew with Bear Creek Preserve Manager Joe Vinton (right)

Our group hiked about 7 miles along several trails, including some distance along  separate propane and natural gas pipelines. Over the course of the trip, we covered a few hundred feet of elevation, ascending hills and descending again to a creek at the base of a valley. The hike lasted roughly 2 and half hours, with occasional stops for snacks or a helpful interjection of information about the area from our guide. The terrain was steep and exposed in sections, but flat and shaded in others.

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A brief respite along the vigorous hike

Tomorrow, the class will spend the morning listening to two guest lectures, and then travel to the Lackawanna Heritage Trail for a bike ride in the afternoon.

Virginia Farrell & Gared, for the EP NEPA crew…

Human Performance Testing – Day 2

Today the class started out by performing the Wingate test, the purpose of which is to show peak anaerobic power. It is performed using a cycle ergometer, which is essentially a stationary bike with a feature to add weights (based on the person’s weight) to apply resistance to the main wheel. The students had to keep up as much speed as possible after the resistance was applied for 30 seconds. The number of revolutions was recorded every 5 seconds.

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After the class finished the Wingate test, Assistant Professor Michael Landram talked about anaerobic respiration and showed the graphs of revolutions per 5 seconds and how it decreased significantly throughout the 30 seconds of the test, showing how inefficient anaerobic respiration is.

The class then proceeded to the 8th floor of Leahy Hall for a DEXA test, which is a kind of X-ray test that shows bone density, lean body fat, and muscle related to the skeletal system. It takes about 6 minutes to complete the scan. While waiting for a student to finish, the rest of the class learned about the unearthly Bod Pod and various other body fat measuring devices.

After finishing the DEXA scan, Dr. Sweeney and Professor Fay drove the students over to the Dunmore High track to complete the 1.5 mile run in the blazing sun. Some participants were excited to try to hatch some Pokémon eggs, while others simply dreaded their yearly run. 6 laps around the track proved to be quite difficult especially at the hottest time of the day and after the rigorous tests from earlier in the day and the day before.

Hot and sweaty, the class rode back to campus where Dr. Sweeney snuck us into the 3rd floor of the DeNaples Center to crash orientation lunch. Here the class enjoyed a free lunch and some well deserved ice cream. After lunch, the class went to the physiology lab to discuss an experiment Dr. Sweeney came up with to demonstrate blood delivery to muscles and oxygen consumption using an array of tubes we could open and close to symbolize capillaries and heat to symbolize oxygen. Class ended with a few questions to answer about the experiment and how it correllates to the human body.

The last test of the day was to carry the 5 pound Anatomy and Physiology books home.

Eva Rine and Ryan, for the EP NEPA crew…

Human Performance Testing – Day 1

Today the EP NEPA crew got the first glimpse of what they really signed up for.

To start the day, the class met at Dr. Sweeney’s office and after some brief introductions, proceeded down to the new Leahy Hall to conduct the first bout of fitness tests. Assistant Professor Michael Landram introduced the group to the Bruce protocol treadmill stress test and the various diagnostic tools that would measure heart rate, oxygen consumption (VO2), blood lactate levels, arterial oxygen saturation and perceived exertion during the exam.

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The test itself required participants to run on the treadmill through 3 minute stages, each with progressively increasing speeds and inclines.
Most members of the class reached a point of exhaustion at or around the 5th stage, peaking at a speed of 5.0 miles per hour up an 18% incline.

Combo_Image_2This enabled the determination of each subject’s VO2max, or maximum oxygen consumption.

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After the Bruce test, the class had lunch on the campus green and returned to the Loyola Science Center. There, Dr. Sweeney and Professor Fay gave a summary of the requirements for the course, and outlined the day’s remaining tests. The Harvard Step test was next on the docket. This required the class to step up and down from a block for 5 minutes. The size of these blocks varied a few inches based on each participant’s respective height. Immediately after the five minutes of exercise, heart rate measurements were taken for alternating 30 second intervals over the course of several minutes to determine the post-exercise decrease in heart rate. The faster the decline in heart rate, the fitter the subject was, and the less “oxygen debt” from exercise there was to make up. These heartbeat numbers were inserted into an equation, along with other variables, to produce a result that could be evaluated relative to a fitness index.

Lastly, the group performed the muscular strength section of the President’s adult fitness challenge. For this, we had to complete as many half sit-ups as possible in one minute, and separately, as many pushups as possible.

Tomorrow, the class will conclude fitness testing with the Wingate Anaerobic Test and a timed 1.5 mile run.

At the end of the course, the human performance tests will be repeated to determine the effect of the training done during the 3 1/2 weeks of the course.

Ryan Clarkson & Gared Zaboski, for the EP NEPA crew…

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Penne with Vodka Sauce

  • 1 lb. penne
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp.  crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
  • 1/4 lb. prosciutto, thin slices cut into ~1″ square pieces
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes, including the puree
  • 16 oz can petite chopped tomatoes
  • sea salt, to taste (start with 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or equiv. amount of dried parsley
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Bring a large pot of water for the pasta to a high boil; add salt (~ tsp) and veg. oil (~tblsp) .

Use a skillet or stir-fry pan large enough to hold all the pasta and sauce later on. Heat the skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, then the garlic and red pepper flakes. After 30-60 seconds, add the prosciutto. After another minute, add the crushed and chopped tomatoes and sea salt. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens some; about 15 minutes total. Start the pasta after the sauce has been simmering 5 minutes (see below); add the parsley after sauce has been simmering 10 minutes.

About five minutes after the sauce begins to simmer, add the penne to the boiling water and cook on a high boil, uncovered, stirring often. Follow the box directions for the number of minutes to cook the pasta al dente.

Drain the pasta once it is cooked al dente. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, lowering the heat to the lowest possible setting. Toss the pasta with the sauce. Add the vodka and toss again. Add the heavy cream and toss once more. Cover the pasta and leave over the low heat, allowing 1-2 minutes for the pasta to absorb the sauce.

Toss one final time. Transfer to individual pasta bowls and serve immediately, with warm bread. Serves 6.

If you’ve got a bunch of damn vegetarians around, leave out the prosciutto. (Or better yet, invite them on another night.)

Slot Canyons – Beauty and the Beast…

Slot Canyons I: Buckskin Gulch
Our first experience with slot canyons started like most other days, except we were more sleepy and disgruntled than usual. The day before had been a nine-mile hike out of the Grand Canyon, and we were still feeling it. We hopped out of the van into a cold, blustery day. Everyone bundled up for the trip, wishing we were still in bed.

1817    There was no blazed trail to the slot canyon, so we followed a narrow footpath along a riverbed. They trail eventually faded away, and we had to make our own trail (something Sweeney was more than comfortable with).

1866    We soon arrived at the slot canyons, and even though we had been a tough crowd in the morning (and because we didn’t know what was to come in the afternoon), we forgot how tired we were.
The entire scene seemed otherworldly.
1958     We were fifty feet deep in a crack in the earth that was basically invisible to someone standing at normal ground level. Naturally, we climbed some walls,
1979took some pictures
1969and painted some faces.
1991   Unfortunately, the excursion through the slot canyons ended far too soon. Our attempts at crossing the small sea proved futile, and we were forced to turn back.
Slot Canyon-Crossing the PuddleHowever, to make the return trip more interesting, we decided to take a different route to the van.
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IMG_9627Two hours later, clapping, whistles, and yelling filled the air as the sun began to set. Tara led the noise-making in hopes of deterring any potential predators. Everyone had become a little nervous after we found a pile of bones.
2072Attempting to shortcut our way back to the van had failed, and we had to retrace our steps through what we feared to be dangerous territory.
Mtn_Lion_crossingStill, we  had no doubts about our fearless leader’s navigational ability, so we confidently followed Dr. Sweeney.

Although we had a couple of tense moments, we arrived at the van safely, without any wild animal attacks or serious injuries, ready for another day on (or preferably off) the trail.

Slot Canyons II: Lower Antelope Canyon

On the way from Page to Flagstaff, we made two stops: The Glen Canyon Dam and Lower Antelope Canyon.
For our first stop, we had a good dam guide, Duane, to give us a good dam tour. Duane had worked as an electrical engineer at the dam for almost forty years. He first took us over the top of the dam and explained the construction process, which was completed in 1963. Over 700 million tons of concrete were required to create the massive dam, which controlled the flow of the Colorado River. He told us that if the dam collapsed, the water pressure would lead to a 100 foot wall of water rushing at 400 miles per hour. The water would reach the Grand Canyon (which is 80 miles away) in fifteen minutes.
Duane then took us to the turbines, which were 512 feet below the top of the dam. He explained that the eight huge turbines provide electricity to a range of over 200 square miles, and Glen Canyon can make electricity cheaper than any other hydroelectric source in the area. Besides giving us quite a bit of interesting information, he told us a few good dam jokes. He even let us take a selfie with him.
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After Glen Canyon, we stopped at the Lower Antelope Canyon. The Navajo tribe owns Lower Antelope Canyon and does not allow tourists to explore it without a native guide. Instead of Dr. Sweeney, Shushi, a young Navajo man, would lead us through the canyon.
From the earth’s surface, Antelope Canyon was not very impressive. Standing right next to it, a person might not even notice it existed.
2347But we could tell it was going to be a special place when Shushi pointed out fossilized dinosaur tracks on a several hundred million year-old rock. We took dozens of pictures before we even made it to the canyon.
photo 1     Shushi led us down five flights of metal stairs bolted into the canyon wall. In less than a minute, we were 105 feet below the surface of the Earth.
2356     Antelope Canyon was even more incredible than the slot canyons we had seen two days before. Shushi told us the Navajo folklore about the sandstone formations, pointing out the “Lady of the Wind,” an eagle, and a Native chief, to name a few.
IMG_9730IMG_9669IMG_9734IMG_9747    He took some pictures of us in cool places.
photo-2   Shushi even played us a song on the Native American flute.

Finally, Shushi described how many of the rock structures in the area had formed. First, he poured water into a small heap of sand to show how sand dunes became saturated with water and dried in the sun. After his sand pile had dried, he scraped the sand away from the base, showing that wind blew the surrounding sand away from the solid structure. Finally, more wind and water shaped the exposed sandstone into the formations that we see today.
Glen Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon were truly incredible, especially with Duane and Shushi as our guides. We got to see two marvels, one man-made and the other natural. It really gave us a better appreciation for both the power of nature and the impact that humanity can have upon it.

Norm, for The X-Treme Dream Team

We are the One Percent

grand canyonThe Extreme Dream Team went on an overnight trip to the Grand Canyon. We were excited to see some amazing views, put our physical fitness to the test, and experience some of the physiological phenomena we’d been studying throughout the course. The Grand Canyon is located at the northern edge of Arizona. Carved by the Colorado River and other geological forces, it is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Nearly five million people visit the canyon annually, but as we later learned, only about one percent of them hike all the way to the bottom, as we planned to do.

grand canyon 2Our chosen route was the South Kaibab trail. Created in the 1920s, the trail winds down 7.1 miles to our destination – Phantom Ranch – at the bottom. Looking down from the trailhead, the vastness of the canyon was awe-inspiring. The bottom couldn’t be seen from up there, just the canyon stretching out for miles. My first glimpse left me speechless, and as we began to hike down I was completely mesmerized by it. I was brought back to the real world by the smell of mule droppings that happen to line the trail and the sensation of the eccentric contractions in my leg muscles from walking only downward for miles. We saw many other adventurers hiking in either direction along the trail and we were sometimes passed by mules carrying passengers or cargo. The views were incredible, and we stopped to take countless photographs that could never live up to seeing the real thing in person. As we trekked downward, we noticed the types of rocks changing and the differences in vegetation and temperature. The world at the top was completely different from what we found as we descended. And talk about feeling small? The dots in the lower part of the picture below: that’s us!

IMG_9550We crossed the Colorado River and reached Phantom Ranch after nearly five hours of hiking. Phantom Ranch is the only lodging located in the bottom of the canyon. There is limited space, so reservations have to be made more than a year ahead of time. IMG_9570The ranch has cabins for people to sleep in and a main building that’s a cafeteria, gift shop, hangout spot – and probably other functions – rolled into one. We were happy to have a hearty meal prepared by someone other than ourselves after a long day of hiking. We had beef stew, vegetarian chili, salad and cornbread; and some of us tried the Grand Canyon Sunset Amber Ale—because what’s cooler than having a beer at the bottom of the Grand Canyon?

After dinner, we played games in the main building, bought souvenirs, and wrote postcards for our loved ones which would be carried out by mules and mailed the next day.

After eating breakfast and grabbing our pre-made sack lunches, we started our way up the canyon. We used the Bright Angel Trail to come up. The trail follows Bright Angel Creek and offers views that are completely different than those we encountered descending the South Kaibab trail.

grand canyon 3As we hiked up, our group of twelve settled into smaller subsets: the trailblazers led the way, the photographers took their time in back, and the rest of the crew fell somewhere in between.

I soon found myself in a situation rarely experienced during a travel course with twelve people – solitude. I hiked the beginning part of the trail just out of sight of the group ahead of me and just out of earshot of the group behind. This let the experience sink in and allowed me to reflect on how incredible this whole trip has been.

grand canyon 5As the hike continued, we found ourselves traversing many steep switchbacks that tired us out. We reached the top in under five hours and celebrated the completion of such an awesome journey.

IMG_9577Liz, for the Extreme Dream Team

King of the Mountains – Part I

The following is a summary, presented by Gabby and Courtney, of the first half of “King of the Mountains: Tibetan and Sherpa Physiological Adaptations for Life at High Altitude Edward T. Gilbert-Kawai, James S. Milledge, Michael P.W. Grocott and Daniel S. Martin” (Physiology 29:388-402, 2014)

Tibetans and Sherpas have lived at over 13,000 feet of elevation for over 500 generations, thus giving them plenty of time to develop an evolutionary advantage to the hypoxic environment in which they live. The purpose of this review was to identify the physiological differences between Sherpa/Tibetan populations living at high altitude, compared to lowlanders who ascend to and acclimate to high altitude. For the purpose of the review, Tibetans and Sherpas were considered as a single population and will be referred to as Sherpas for the rest of this summary.

The typical primary response to ascent to high altitude – in order to compensate for the lower oxygen content of the high altitude air – is to hemoconcentrate; that is, to increase red blood cell production and thus increase the number of red cells per ml of blood, thereby raising oxygen carrying capacity. Because hemoconcentration also increases blood viscosity, this compensatory response would, on a chronic basis, represent a cardiovascular risk factor by increasing cardiac workload.

Through evolutionary pressures, Sherpas have developed alternative adaptations to high altitude. Sherpas are found not to hemoconcentrate at altitude. Instead, they increase their blood flow rate; they develop larger chest circumference and lung volumes to increase surface area for diffusional exchange; and they have a lower ventilatory recruitment threshold during exercise (since they work on an oxygen sensing mechanism rather than the CO2 dependent sensing mechanism of lowlanders). Sherpas also do not show hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction, which is common in lowlanders who ascend. This prevents in Sherpas the increased cardiac afterload that is typical in chronically adapted lowlanders; consequently, Sherpas are less likely to develop myocardial hypertrophy, a risk factor for cardiovascular dysfunction. Sherpas also show an increased ability to metabolize glucose as a substrate in place of fatty acids (glucose yields more ATP per molecule of oxygen than do fatty acids).

Pregnant Sherpa women also show the ability to divert a larger amount of blood flow and blood volume to the uterine artery, lessening premature births and miscarriages compared to chronically adapted lowlanders. On the other hand, the review found that there was no difference between Sherpas and lowlanders in the hypoxic ventilatory response to ascent and no differences in arterial oxygen saturation. With continued human hypoxic research, it is hoped that advances in the prevention and care of hypoxemic critically ill patients can be achieved.

Snowbowl Day – Fresh Snow and Beautiful Weather

We started the day with such promise- it was the first day we actually made it out of the house on time for the day’s adventures. Those who could ski a black diamond trail ascended to the 11,510 feet summit of Arizona Snowbowl to measure spirometry. However, our great feeling of being on time quickly subsided as we realized we had forgotten the laptop for the measurements. Fortunately, we were still able to measure our breathing rate, pulse, and arterial O2 saturation at the mountain peak before hitting the slopes.

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With the measurements done, we were free for the real fun: skiing and boarding. Those who did not ascend to the summit began polishing their skiing and snowboarding on the bunny slopes, while those at the top put their skills to the test. We tackled ungroomed black diamonds.

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Facing moguls and steep slopes, we descended to the lesser intermediate trails. Here we split. Those fearless enough to stay on the black diamonds trekked back up the mountain while the others cruised around the blues. DCIM100GOPRO

After a few tough hours on the slopes we were glad to break for lunch. Despite forgetting my sandwich in the frantic scramble out of the house, I was excited for the change of pace from cold turkey and cheese. The hot chicken tenders and fries from the lodge were just what I needed to warm me from all the snow that found its way into my jacket.

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With our stomach’s full, we went back out. We met up on the bunny hill and were surprised to see how far the new skiers and boarders had come. After learning for only a few hours, they were making ’S’s like pros. Gabby even ditched the bunny trail to go on a intermediate slopes with Marissa and me. However, for some unknown reason, the trails were cut in half, so people could practice moguls. Despite this horrific setback, with some coaching from Marissa and me, Gabby fearlessly skied/slid her way down the trail.

Check out The GoPro ViewDCIM100GOPRO

With fresh snow and beautiful weather we were sad to call it a day.

Until next time

-Doug & the rest of the Extreme Dream Team

Living the Dream to the Extreme, Day 10!

Today we headed off to the Flagstaff Nordic Center to try cross-country skiing and fat tire biking in the snow.

With the sun shining down and the snow starting to melt, we quickly put on our cross-country skis in the yurt and headed off onto the trail.

This being my first experience cross-country skiing, it quickly became apparent why professional cross-country skiers have some of the highest VO2 maxes around. If you have ever watched competitive cross-country skiing, the athletes seem to speed over the snow effortlessly. As novices, we discovered that gliding over the snow isn’t quite so easy; the skill takes endurance, coordination, speed, and BALANCE.

Balancing with Style
Balancing with Style

Despite all of our falls, the Extreme Team had a great time cross-country skiing!

The OTHER Cross Country
The OTHER Cross Country

Later that afternoon, we headed back to the yurt for lunch. Afterwards, some group members went back out to continue cross-country skiing and the others headed off to try fat tire biking.

You may wonder, after a never-ending 50-mile bike ride and a treacherous mountain bike ride through sandy, cacti infested Tucson, how hard could biking through some soft powdery snow be? I think the best way to answer this question is with some up-close footage of the experience:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PotTW1NeJTM

By 4pm, the Extreme Team was exhausted and hungry. We quickly headed to the grocery store to get ingredients for fish tacos before our guest lecturer arrived (took a selfie of course)!

…and one more selfie!
…and one more selfie!

The fish tacos were as great as was the company of our guest, Dr. Stan Lindstedt a professor and researcher at Northern Arizona University. After a delicious desert of Apple Pie by Blaire and Lemon Meringue Pie by Marissa, we all gathered in the living room for Stan’s lecture on Eccentric Muscle contractions.

As an Exercise Science student, I am typically learning about concentric muscle contractions, i.e. when muscles shorten while generating force. Learning more about the role of eccentric muscle contractions, i.e. controlled muscle lengthening under a load greater than the force the muscle can produce, gave a much-needed insight on the role of muscle function.

Stan pointed out that, compared to concentric muscle contractions, eccentric contractions can produce the same force at a lower workload. With high force outputs, many injuries tend to occur during eccentric muscle movements. This has lead to many healthcare practitioners viewing eccentric contractions as “bad” contractions to practice during training compared to that of concentric. Contrary to popular belief, through research, Stan and his research staff found that eccentric conditioning helps to enhance the elastic component of muscle, Titin. Thus, moderated eccentric conditioning is beneficial for performers in order to maximize their force production with a low energy cost.

Needless to say, Day 10 in Flagstaff was a big day for the Extreme Team. Looking forward to a day of skiing tomorrow.

Love,

Courtney and the Extreme Team

Xtreme Vibes

Despite hundreds of photos and hours of GoPro footage , not even the Xtreme Dream Team was able to fully capture the beauty of Sedona on Tuesday’s hike. The photo taking began as we rode in our great white van down Oak Creek Canyon. As we turned each winding corner, a new vista took our breath away. Cell phone cameras snapped away with increasing frequency until we finally reached Sedona itself.

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Team Extreme immediately began to feel good vibes as the van rolled through town passing a myriad of crystal shops, meditation centers, yoga studios, psychics and other new age health specialists. We picked up a flyer at the tourist shop that told us about the Sedona energy vortexes.

What is a vortex??

According to the Sedona Visitor Center, a vortex is a funnel shape created by a whirling fluid or by the motion of spiraling energy. The vortexes in Sedona are unique because they were created by spiraling spiritual energy. This energy facilitates prayer, meditation, and healing. Millions of years ago, the red rocks of Sedona were a part of a vast ocean. As the ocean receded, the rocks were worn and smoothed by wind and sediment. Iron oxide eventually covered the sandstone rocks and created rust. This gives the rocks their red color.

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A local Sedona dweller told me that the mystery of the good vibes lies in the red rocks, which emit iron oxide into the air. Hikers abosorb the iron orally as they breathe. This gives them an abundance of energy and mood boost. ….Team Xtreme has yet to verify this claim in any physiological source.

Although the energy of the Boynton Vortex cannot be recorded or quantified, changes in the vibes of the Xtreme Team were certainly noticeable as the hike progressed. The orange rocks contrasting against the blue sky provided continuous opportunities for Instagram photos with the hashtag “nofilter.” The landscape was covered with diverse plant life from prickly pear cacti, to calming sage and sweet-smelling juniper. The hikers soon split into two groups: the trailblazers and those who hung back to make sure that they did not miss one. single. picture. The back of the pack felt “high on life” and stopped frequently to marvel at the beauty of every branch. Eventually, the troop reached the center of the Boynton Vortex. Here, a circle of colorful crosses surrounded a Manzanita bush while the red rocks and blue sky stretched across the backdrop. We all felt compelled to form a circle and begin chanting around the vortex. When the ritual was complete, the group members concluded that they felt a change in their individual energies. To this day, no one can accurately describe the phenomenon. We conclude that the best way to understand the power of the vortex is to experience the vortex first-hand.

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For me, the focus of this hike was more spiritual than physiological. The usual Xtreme Team mantra “Do it for the VO2,” no longer seemed relevant to me. While we are here to learn about our bodies’ responses to exercise and extreme environments, I think it is important to reflect on the cognitive and emotional benefits of living an active lifestyle. Getting outside and pushing our bodies everyday makes us all feel alive and more at peace. It reminds us to be thankful for our bodies, yet remember that we are more than just our physiology. Hiking through Sedona gave me the perspective that we are spirits having a physical experience.

We continued on our journey and finally reached Boynton Canyon. Upon entering the canyon clearing, I began to understand how small I actually was. The rocks stretched hundreds of feet below us and continued above our heads to graze the sky. We took in the beauty as we ate our sandwiches and posed for more extreme photos.

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Eventually we hiked back and piled into the van. Just as we thought we were done for the day, the van pulled into the parking lot of Fay Canyon. There were still miles to hike before we slept. On this trail, we saw a few mystical hippie hikers with long beaded dread locks and flowing frocks. We knew we were in for a climb when Dr. Sweeney told us to “get ready to scramble.” At the end of the path lay a mountain of red rocks with no clear direction in which to proceed. Would another group of hikers have turned around? Perhaps. But the Xtreme Dream Team is always up for a challenge. We “scrambled” to the ledge and climbed higher and then even higher until we were sure we had the best possible view. We took selfies galore from precarious positions as our professors reminded us to “be careful.” At the end of the day, our phones and GoPros were full of pictures to show our families and good vibes coursed through our veins. However, the photos could not truly capture the magic of Sedona. The humble feeling of insignificance felt when standing near the large canyons, the warmth of the sun, and the crispness of the air are all lost in the lens of the iPhone. The powerful energy and majestic views are best remembered as a full personal experience of body and spirit rather than just a photograph.

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Erika, for the Xtreme Dream Team