If you want to get to the top, focus on the things that will take you to get there.
All hikers know that high altitude hiking is the most challenging, yet the most amazing outdoor activities to do. Most of them will spend their time to complete their summer adventure story. Well, there are many options available such as Rocky Mountains, Sierras, Kilimanjaro, and others. High altitude hiking gives an unforgettable and unique experience that will make you feel that you are with few of people who could reach the top.
Just like another extreme journey, you may need the perfect camera, bring your essential items, and plan everything accordingly. This is the key point to have an amazing high altitude hiking experience. The fact is that there is no real way to practice and train your skills to deal with high altitude. It is all about your chance to hydrate, and acclimate. Well, prepare everything for your life journey.
1. The Risk of High Altitude Hiking
It is good to start learning about this by researching on the difference of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Wait, you also need to know about High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). Understanding about the difference will help you to identify “a sick person” at altitude better. The better you identify, the better you can take action.
For example, AMS is the mild form of the altitude sickness. Sadly, the feeling it creates is similar to a hangover. You may feel nausea, a headache, or exhausted. If you think that you get these symptoms, this is the warning. It can be the symptoms of HAPE or HACE. The next is HAPE that happens when the liquid seeps into the lung. It makes you feel like you want to cough up. If it happens, it is good to turn around as soon as possible. HACE leads to confusion and incoordination. If you feel that you are stumbling and your speech is slurring, you are close to death. You have no choice unless to cancel your hiking.
The next important point is how far you can do for your fitness. First, you should know that you have to train hikes. Besides, you must train with the weighted pack. If you hike above 10,000 feet of elevation gain, of course, hiking with 40 lbs. of the pack is a lot heavier. Therefore, it is good to give yourself a break. You can train yourself at home by backpacking with water, weights, and some more heavy items.
Second, you can train by running hills and stairs. You will feel calf burners and glute tearers when you are about hiking. To do so, you should add much elevation as you can deal with. If you are training in San Francisco, it is good to sprints up steep hills. Otherwise, use the staircase. If you live in a flat desert and there is no uphill ground to train, it does not a matter. You should go to the gym and try on the Stairmaster. There is no excuse not to have the right physical training for your preparation.
Furthermore, it is your advantage to have easy access to hike a mountain in your nearest area. You can start by building your body up to the higher elevations gradually. For example, you should gain 1,000 feet per training during your weekend. It is good to start from the small thing like doing aerobic exercise in 3,000 feet of elevation gain. This exercise will help your body to adjust and work with the less oxygen in the blood.
Asides of your fitness and a solid plan for your altitude hiking, it is also important to prepare for your fuel, we mean here your food and drink. It is good to bring more food and water because you are at a high altitude. In this condition, your muscles will burn more energy and even faster. Your body requires more calories and even H2O to work properly. You are not dieting here, in this area. Therefore, do not worry to pack up with snacks that offer a high level of carbohydrate and sugar such as hard candies, chocolate, jerky, and other high-calorie snacks.
If you don’t want to have any problem with sunburns, we recommend you to have SPF when you are at the high altitude. The temperature, wind, and sunshine will be quite extreme. Therefore, you should bring the right gear. In addition, support your body with the total face protection such as waterproof clothing, wind-resistant outfit, and others. Besides, you will need other items like wool socks, thermal gloves, and extra hand warmers to support your body to deal with the mountain environment.
5. First Aid Backups
You cannot even predict the condition of your body especially due to the impact of the high altitude. If this is your first experience to hike a thousand miles, you should play it safe. It is good to bring the altitude aid with you. Besides, you should bring one of the most favorite altitude medications such as Diamox, the prescribed medicine to trek up to 8,000 feet of elevation gain. Other things to pack are ibuprofen, indigestion pills, and cough drops.
6. Your Limits
Before planning to do your altitude hiking, we strongly suggest you see a doctor. You should check your body and condition if there are no lingering issues or the undiscovered ailments that can make you cannot deal with the hiking activities. The most important thing is that if you are not feeling well, we recommend you to prepare yourself to turn around. Do not even underestimate a discomfort headache or the minor chest pain. In fact, these things can be the symptoms that even make your condition is much worse. We do not want you to test your body and ability to reach the summit when you are not feeling well and you are miles far from safety.
7. Enjoy It
You are not going to break the record, so take everything slow. You should not rush your way when it is all about your successful trip. If you hike for the altitude hiking, your body will go slower and that is the natural thing that happens. So, enjoy it. Take your time. Enjoy the views and keep walking, slowly but surely.
so, are you ready to start your journey?