Our area has some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. But some features of high country living give reason for a little precaution for maximum enjoyment. As you travel from sea level and elevation increases, the air gets thinner and there's less oxygen. Humidity levels decrease, the air gets colder and the sun's ultraviolet rays are more penetrating.
With the highest peak in Colorado, the elevation in Lake County rises to a lofty 14,433 feet and seldom dips below 9,000 feet, making altitude preparation a must. Visitors are often out of breath and their breathing is faster and deeper. Some people develop more uncomfortable flu-like symptoms of headache, upset stomach, poor appetite, problems sleeping and feeling tired.
To make your adjustment to the altitude easier, stay at 5,000 feet for a day to two before traveling higher; get a little extra rest and less physical activity in the first few days; drink more water and do not consume alcoholic beverages, caffeine and salty foods. Salt causes your body to retain fluid which will increase the effects of altitude sickness. Eat low fat meals and enjoy higher carbohydrate foods. Most of all, listen to your body! Take it easy, enjoy and don't push yourself. Should your condition be extreme, seek medical assistance.
Over 3/4 of the land in our county is gorgeous public land just waiting for your outdoor recreational adventure. Just a few precautions will make your travels a pleasant memory. Remember to use protective lotion to prevent sunburn and don't forget your shades! Don't drink the water in mountain streams, but take plenty of water along and drink a gallon or more per day. Mountain weather changes rapidly. Dress in layers, avoid all-cotton clothes which can become very cold when wet, and take rain gear even on a sunny day. Always travel in the backcountry with a companion and tell others where you are going and when to expect your return. The USFS Leadville District Ranger Office at 2015 Poplar, 719-486-0749, can answer questions about using public lands.