July 4, 2012 was our hike to the next base camp – Cave #3 camp at 12,946′ (up from 11,443′). It was the first very difficult day for me. I was exhausted along the entire route and my right foot, despite being bandaged up, hurt quite a bit. I was constantly panting very heavily to the point that I had to frequently stop to catch my breath. This happened last year, but only on the final ascent, at a much higher elevation than what I was experiencing. Our lead guide offered to carry my day pack the last 1/3 of the hike, which I gladly accepted. Last year, I did not relinquish my day pack until the final ascent. I checked my heart rate monitor at the end of the hike and my max heart rate for the entire day was only 138 BPM, very low compared to what I train at. I try to train in the high 150’s to low 160’s occasionally going into the 170’s. So, my heart was fine, I just couldn’t get enough air. Something different was going on this year and the only thing I could point to was this upper respiratory condition I was trapped with. I was on Day 4 of my Z-Pak, but it didn’t seem to be helping much if any. When we arrived at camp we were invaded by several White-Naped Ravens. We had to constantly guard against them as they would steal anything. We witnessed one of them pulling out of a pack pocket, and flying away with, a brand new package of Baby Wipes, a precious commodity in a dry and dusty place.