Hikers with High Elevation
The facts that it is dangerous, even difficult for some adventurers to get high elevations because of thin air and reduced air-pressure that makes hikers experience altitude sickness. But the higher hikers you go, the better they enjoy the view.
Altitude sickness occurs when a person does not receive enough oxygen to satisfy the needs of his or her body. The respiratory and circulatory system does not work as efficiently when the body isn’t acclimated to the lower oxygen concentration. At higher elevations, muscles can get starved of nutrients and the waste products may take longer to be removed.
Symptoms include dizziness (not good when on a mountain top), nausea, vomiting, dizziness and in some serious cases, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and swelling of the brain (cerebral edema).
Any person going to a higher altitude is susceptible to altitude sickness, especially when going above 8000 feet. Even people in good physical shape can experience shortness of breath and longer recovery times when going through a 4000 foot change. For example, when hiking in the Canadian Rockies a traveler going from Montreal (elevation 187 feet) to Calgary (elevation 3740 feet) experiences a 3553 foot jump.
It takes the body a few days to acclimate to the lower concentrations of the oxygen in the air. People of all fitness levels can suffer from altitude sickness, but hikers who smoke, have respiratory problems or are prone to dizziness should take extra precautions.
Here are some tips to making hiking at altitude easier;
Realize that bodies need to time to adjust. Take it easy, slow down and don’t charge up the mountain. For example, when hiking in the Canadian Rockies, it’s easy to become exhausted when you’re body isn’t efficiently processing oxygen. Don’t be embarrassed to take longer breaks to recover.
Drink lots of water since you’ll be expelling more water vapor from deep breathing and perspiration. Dehydration can quickly creep up on hikers leading to muscle cramps, reduced energy and even mental confusion which only compounds the problems of hiking at altitude.
Take the easy route up the mountain. Instead of charging up a steep incline, try taking the switchbacks. You will walk a longer distance but you’ll still conserve more energy. Remember, humans can not scale peaks like mountain goats.
Listen to your body and don’t ignore what its saying. Watch for the signs of altitude sickness and dehydration and immediately stop for a break. Don’t over-exert yourself because you still need energy to safely make it down the mountain.
Fit people may actually suffer from altitude sickness more than others. They may push harder and over-exert themselves quicker than someone who takes frequent breaks.
Get a good night sleep at the higher altitude. Give your body some time to recover and adjust to the new elevation.
Hikers who travel to new destinations don’t have the luxury to acclimate to the sudden change in altitude. When hiking at higher elevations, the best way to avoid altitude sickness is to realize that your body does not work as efficiently in thin air, drink plenty of fluids and take it easy.
Scenic Travel Canada is a website that helps travelers and nature-lovers to discover Canada. There are plenty of Canadian adventures that cater to people of all fitness levels. From hiking in the Rockies to walking the sandy shores in the Maritimes, you’ll be amazed at the beautiful Canadian scenery that awaits.