Skin and Hair
This site is provided for informational
purposes only. The information here is not intended to diagnose
or treat any condition, and should not replace the care and attention
of qualified medical personnel. Use the information on these pages
at your own risk, and, as with any information pertaining to health,
nutrition, mental health, or fitness, consult your physician before making any
changes that might affect your overall health.
at high altitude isn't any big deal if you are used to it,
but if you are unaccustomed to either hiking, or high altitude,
you need to make some extra preparations.
If you live up
here all the time, then you'll be used to the available oxygen
levels. If you don't, then you'll have to remember to slow
down and take it easy, along with the other precautions.
The rules for
hiking up high take into account several factors that you
might not consider if you live down low:
is perhaps your most important element! Take twice as much
water as you think you need, because dehydration is more of
an issue at higher altitudes. People exhale and perspire twice
the amount of moisture at 6000 ft that they do at sea level.
Higher up, the difference is even more extreme. Dehydration
is more common than altitude sickness at moderate altitudes,
so if you feel funky, sit down and sip water.
gets colder at night at high altitude.
Temperatures tend to be more extreme, with huge differences
between day and night temperatures. If you intend to be out
all day, bring layers of clothing because the temperatures
can fluctuate radically. If there is a chance that you could
get caught out, bring emergency matches and a compact shelter.
altitudes normally mean more wind. And there are fewer trees,
or none at all, so shelter is not going to be easy to find
if you need to get out of the wind for a while. Wind, combined
with sun, or lowered temperatures, can be brutal. 60 MPH winds
are commonplace. The wind chill factor is nothing to joke
about. A high wind on a sunny day in midsummer can bring on
hypothermia very quickly, and in winter, you can get frostbite
between the car and the rest stop.
rays are not filtered as much, so even when they feel less
intense, they are, in fact, more intense. Cool days, cloudy
days, and even stormy days can have a high risk of sunburn.
Bring lip moisturizer, and sunscreen for exposed areas of
skin if you are not used to high sun exposure. Bring along
sunglasses also, especially if you are going to be around
snow. Cloudy days at high altitude can actually be harder
on your eyes than sunny days, because there is often more
glare. Be especially careful of babies and children - a sun
hat is not enough! Reflected light alone up here can sunburn
fair skin even when it is in the shade!
Exertion can cause shortness of breath very rapidly even at
moderately high altitudes. It can be aggravated by high winds,
cold air, and rapid changes in elevation.
People tend to
minimize the risk of hiking, especially if they are on vacation
and are not really aware that they traveled as high as they
did. At Martin's Cove (a Mormon Trail Historical Site), there
is a small emergency cabin halfway up the trail - and the
entire trail is only 2.25 miles long one way! This tells you
though, that even on a short trail, if people are unprepared,
they do get into trouble.
So take it seriously.
Usually when trouble starts, it goes from bad to worse very
rapidly, so pay attention to the first warning signs, and
slow down, warm up, cover up, or drink up. Acting quickly
at the first sign of trouble can avert a disaster, and keep
your trip fun, and just as awesome as it ought to be.
Editorial Comments throughout this site written by Laura Wheeler (with occasional sarcastic remarks by her son, David). Laura is a 10 year resident of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, where the altitude is greater than the population. Medicine Bow is at 6200+ ft above sea level, and boasts a total of 297 residents from the last census. Laura is an experienced technical, health and family writer.