On the cloudy and cool day of Sunday, November 15, 2002, Ranger Bob took a pre-Thanksgiving hike on the main loop over the top of the mountain and down by the water fall in Stone Mountain State Park. There were a substantail number of other hikers but no congestion. I was alone on the trail for much of the trip.
For about four years I have suffered from getting out of breath which is triggered by starting any kind of strenuous activity. The problem is caused by post traumautic stress disorder from a scuba diving accident. I was in serious trouble on the bottom of ocean at about 100 foot depth, afraid I would drown and came close to fatally panicking. Since then I have been tested by four doctors for cardiovascular and pulmonary functions. All the tests came back negative, meaning I am fully physically healthy. The PTSD is psychological, and there is no cure except for me to get used to it and control it as best I can.
I have already learned to control the breathlessness while playing tennis. I can play hard and get out of physical breath but not suffer PTSD. I don't know how I did this. About 9 montsh ago it just started working. I suppose it is because I play tennis so often - sometimes three times a week.
On this hike I made good progress on controlling the PTSD while hiking. I did not suffer any bouts of psychological breathlessness. To do so I hiked exceedingly slowly and made a conscious effort to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells around me. I purposefully did not dwell on getting up the mountain with any speed. I still felt the normal occasions of physical breathlessness from hiking up a steep mountain, but I enjoyed the opportunity to be outside, rather than worrying about how long it would take me to get to the top.
It appears that in the future when I hike, bike, backpack or otherwise engage in strenous exercise that I will be going slowly. That means I will either be by myself; or I will be traveling with patient and understanding companions.