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  1. #1

    Question Trail & High Altitude

    I'm going out to Colorado and will be doing a little hiking while I'm there. The hike will be a short day hike- 9.5 miles long but it starts around 11,000 feet and ends at 13,000 feet. I live near the coast so the elevation will definitely be factor. Do I need to consider taking medicine for altitude sickness or will it not be a factor since the hike will be so short?

    I've gotten a lot of use from reading this forum before for my AT hikes so I figured I'd go ahead and post here. I hope that this is the best place to post this question.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

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    If you try to hike the day after arriving, you will notice. A lot of factors determine how much you notice. At best, you will definitely be short of breath and gasping for air. Take it slow. At every third step pause and take a really deep breath. It would probably be a good idea to carry the medicine just in case you develop the more serious side effects.
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  3. #3
    Registered User
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    10-17-2007
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    What elevation will you sleep at? The protocol for acclimating to altitude is to not ascend more than 1000 to 1500 ft per day after getting to 9000 ft. Then add a day with no elevation gain every 2 to 3 days. However these are sleeping elevations. It is considered beneficial to hike to a higher elevation and descend to your sleeping target elevation. So a day hike to a high elevation is probably ok as long as you descend after the hike. You could run into trouble if for some reason you are not able get to your acclimated elevation (injury, transportation issue). This would be a situation where medication such as Diamox would be advised. Sleeping at elevation for a couple days before hiking would likely help.


  4. #4

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    For runners of the Pikes Peak marathon (7K ft climb), which I once completed, there are two suggestions: 1. If you have the time, arrive early and spend a week or two adjusting to elevation, especially sleeping high, or 2. Arrive the day before and go for it, and often a reasonably healthy body does OK inasmuch as it takes time for it to figure out what's going on.

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    05-30-2019
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    Fines Creek, North Carolina
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    Sleeping at elevation a night or two, before hiking, is definitely good.

  6. #6
    Registered User
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    03-10-2006
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    So-California
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    Acute Mountain Sickness can come on quickly in even the fittest people. If you canít acclimate first, the best things are to be well rested and hydrated. Turn back if you feel like crap. I use aspirin and caffeine as needed.


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  7. #7
    Registered User
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    02-04-2013
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    Washington, DC
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    How people respond to being at high elevation seems to vary widely. If I can avoid sleeping above 10,000 feet for the first couple nights, I tend to be ok, although I still get some bad headaches. I can hike higher, like to go over a pass, but I try to sleep lower.

    For example, when I start a northbound JMT hike from Horseshoe Meadows, which is at around 10,000 feet, I sleep at the trailhead camp the night before starting. Then I hike over a pass and again sleep below 10,000 feet at Rock Creek. After that, I’m generally good to go for the rest of the trip. But I’ve had some headaches and bad enough to potentially look into medication.

    When I hiked the Colorado Trail in 2014, I had no issues whatsoever because I started in Denver and had a lot of time to acclimate before reaching the higher elevations.

    I’d suggest a couple nights below 9-10,000 feet if your reaction to elevation is not known. It could save a trip.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks for the tips everybody. I will be in CO a few days before the hike and will spend 2 nights sleeping just outside of the park so that should give me some time to acclimate. Thanks again.

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