Tips for Hiking at Elevation

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in Mammoth Lakes, chances are you’re going to be breathing extra hard while hiking here thanks to the elevation.

The town of Mammoth Lakes sits at nearly 8,000ft above sea level, which means even just visiting without acclimating could result in altitude sickness. If you’re hiking through the area, the possibility of the elevation having an effect on you shoots up due to the fact that you’re doing a physical activity and often going up to higher elevations in the process. To help you get the most out of your Mammoth Lakes hike, the ASO Mammoth team has come up with a few tips for visiting hikers.

Check out our tips for hiking at high elevations below, and if you find yourself in need hiking gear or clothing stop by ASO Mammoth on your way to the trailhead!

Drink. Refill. Repeat.

 One of the most common ways that elevation slows down hikers is by dehydrating them. Simply put, at high elevations your body has to work harder to breath due to less oxygen being in the air. The harder your body works the more water you lose, which means you have to drink more water than you typically would.

Remember, your body is working harder so do everything you can to support it. You probably know that alcohol dehydrates you at regular elevations, but the effects of a drink are much more significant at high elevation. If you plan on hiking or doing any physical activities at Mammoth Lakes’ elevation, support your body and avoid breakdowns by drinking plenty of water.

Pack Wisely

Along the same lines, don’t haul anything around that you don’t need.

The more you’re carrying the more you’ll need to breath, and if you overpack by bringing too much camping equipment or even too much water you could have to stop well short of your goal. If you’re unfamiliar with the hike you’re setting out for, research beforehand so you can pack appropriately.

Plan Ahead

Unlike other hikes you may have done, hiking at high elevation isn’t something you can just decide to do if you’re not acclimated. If you’re reading this then you’re starting off on the right foot because you’re already planning ahead for your hike.

Unless you’re hiking at extreme elevations, planning ahead is simple. Read about the trail and elevation beforehand so you know what to expect, pack appropriately, and acclimate to the elevation by spending a night or two near the trail before your hike if you can. If you have your eyes set on a high summit or plan on hiking for a few days straight, you can prepare by doing cardio exercises to make your body more efficient and prepared for high elevations.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Along with water, sunglasses and sunscreen are basic pieces of gear that you should always have with you when hiking at high elevation.

Both pieces of gear are needed due to the fact that at high elevation you have less protection from the sun. If you’re hiking, then chances are that you’ll see plenty of sunshine, so protect your eyes and your skin by making sure you have sunscreen, eye protection, or a hat and clothes that will keep you out of the sun.

Know the symptoms

The higher you plan on hiking, the more you need to be aware of what altitude sickness symptoms look like. Some symptoms include dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue. These symptoms may be hard to recognize while you’re hiking, so take plenty of breaks to gauge how you feel and don’t try to push through. Altitude sickness only gets worse as you get more exhausted, so respect what your body is telling you and respond appropriately!

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