I swear I will never get over just how many types of places there are to visit in the United States. The difference from coast to coast and each state in between is so extremely vast and varying. I’ve only been to 18 states, not including flight layovers (and wow that just gave me so much anxiety because WOW do I have work to do). But, this past memorial day, because our dear friends invited us for their jack and jill getaway, we crossed off another on the list. Colorado is breathtaking. I don’t know how else to describe it. Her views, yes, but also her altitudes literally take your breath away.
Colorado is Breathtaking
How to survive Colorado and her high altitudes? And no, not like it’s anything to be afraid of, but her heights– if you go up in the Rockies– will get ya. A drastic change in altitude does a number on your body. You’ll want to take full advantage of everything the beautiful state/region has to offer, wherever you’re exploring, so these five tips should help you beat AMS, otherwise known as Acute Mountain Sickness, and yes, it’s a real thing.
+ How to Beat It
#1 Get Acclimated
This part can sometimes be unavoidable as it was in our situation. Because we were on a strict time frame of 3 days to explore so much, we did this part a little…wrong. Which is why I’m giving you this first-hand advice.
We landed in Denver, which is 5,280ft above sea level (Buffalo is only 600) so getting acclimated there is perfect. Maybe stay a night first to relax then head further up. Even though it’s much high than home the impact of Denver didn’t bother us. It was the fact that we immediately got our rental cars and headed straight into the Mountains, to Breckenridge, which sits at a hefty 9,600ft up.
FYI: They say anything above 7,000ft is when your oxygen levels decrease and that you shouldn’t go more than 1,000 feet every 24 hours of where your last altitude height was.
So, we were screwed. And feeling the symptoms of AMS. Some of the groups were extreme, some not at all. The most common symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing (told you, Colorado is breathtaking, literally)
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid Pulse
I got into bed the first night there feeling queasy, and despite traveling forever (maybe one day I’ll explain the seagull getting caught in our plane causing a 24 hour travel day story) I was wide awake. Then, I woke up at 6 am which was 4 am Buffalo time. But, with a little treatment and TIME I felt physically better and was able to hike to 12,000ft that first day with some minimal dehydration and difficulty breathing, to be expected.
Oh! One more thing to really let yourself get acclimated– don’t drink alcohol. I know, I know, calm down, let me finish… Don’t drink for the first 24-48 hours depending on how hard it’s hitting you. Definitely a minimum of 24 and then take it easy. Just don’t get shitfaced people!!! Okay, moving on.
#2 Water Water Water
I couldn’t get enough. You actually feel your body wanting water. Not like your throats dry and you’re really thirsty, it’s more like you know the only thing that will help you is chugging a gallon of water. There were 16 of us for 3 days in the cabin and we probably went through 6-8 cases of water. I think. I don’t know, we went through a shit ton.
However, this means less caffeine. I didn’t even really want coffee knowing it would only push my body into more of a hydration deficit. We ended up getting raw smoothies and juices and health shots from the cutest juice bar in Breckenridge both mornings. They were delicious, rejuvenating, and I am so pissed I didn’t try their balls (energy balls)! The turmeric and lemongrass shots were amazing though, and the acai bowls, I forgot about those too! Ugh, just all around amazing. I highly recommend checking out LoLo Juice if your ever in Breck.
#3 Oils, Moisturizers, Lotions of ALL kinds
Okay might not have so much to do with avoiding or healing AMS but it definitely might help just the situation in general. I HATE how drying going on an airplane is for my entire body so I loaded up on the flight– as per usual. Then when we got back up in the mountains I swear it felt like I was permanently in an airplane. I lathered all the oils on my face, lotions on my body, and tried to avoid makeup as much as possible. Tip: Even guys should oil up too!!!
This is also a given, but sunscreen is key. You’re higher up, closer to the sun, and outdoors a lot, so be smart. I shouldn’t even have to say it.
Below are the products I used (still use when I travel) and swear by.
#4 Eat, especially CARBS!
I know, I’m like your best friend right now, giving you permission to eat all the carbs. They actually help you keep up your energy. Something about the sugars that are in your muscles decreases so the sugars from the carbs help keep it all normal. Whatever, don’t question it, just plan on eating a ton of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I had 7 while we were there) because when else are you gonna do that guilt free?!
#5 Bring the Correct Clothing (for all Temps)
This, like #3, might just be more of a helpful hint, but the difference of the temperature outside during the day to night time can be a dramatic 30-40 degrees (Fahrenheit). It’s an outdoor town so whether you’re going out and about during the day or around a fire at night you might need all kinds of clothing. We were going a couple hours away from where we were staying to take part in all of the adventures so I kept backup clothing in the car in case I got wet, and it’s always better to start with extra layers– you can remove them as needed.
The knarley rafting trip we took with The Adventure Company guys was insane and SO exhilarating. Buena Vista CO is a town like no other. It’s a crazy adventurous, crazy small, one stop light town that added on a sustainable living development. Plus, the drive there through the plains was something out of a wild west movie.
Thanks again, CO
I hope that as I explained how to avoid AMS you still could see that Colorado is a place you should put high up on your bucket list of US States. Explore it, see it. We are so lucky to have such great, fun friends to invite us on trips that push us (me) outside of our (my) comfort zone. There’s so much more to do, I hope to be back one day, so tell me where have you been in the great Centennial State?