What is it about high altitude hiking that excites those that love hiking? One obvious reason is the incredible view when you’re above the world. Your body just feels serene and your mind feels free. The thing is, to get there, you need to be prepared. You need to understand just how hiking at high altitudes can effect your body.
It’s an absolute incredible experience, but being prepared for the environment is essential. So just an FYI, anything between 8,000 feet – 12,000 feet is considered high altitude. Anything between 12,000 Feet – 18,000 feet is considered Very high altitude and anything above 18,000 Feet is considered Extreme high altitude. ( We are definitely not ready for that…yet! )
Dave and I have hiked for many years, but never have we experienced a hike like our recent, and let me point out, first high altitude hike.
We hiked up the beautiful volcano, Nevado de Toluca in Mexico. The highest peak is 15,345 feet. Now we’re headed to the 2 beautiful crater lakes that sit close to 14,000 feet. The larger of the two crater lakes is called Lago del Sol (Sun Lake) and the smaller one, but apparently is deeper is called Lago de la Luna (Moon Lake).
OMG..Let’s just say, I REALLY felt the effects of going from sea level to high altitude in one day.
It’s an absolute incredible experience, but being prepared for the environment is essential.
10 Essentials to Prepare for a high altitude hike.
1. Get Plenty of Rest The Night Before
It’s important to give your body the rest it needs to prepare for such a hike. It’s important to get a good night sleep every night, just saying!
2. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Gatorade is a very good hydration option. It has electrolytes which helps to combat dehydration because it has sugar and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. If you don’t like Gatorade you can use the electrolyte tablets called Nuun in your water. They come in many different flavors and they work really well.
We chose Gatorade. We love Gatorade. The only problem was we packed quite a few bottles which made our backpack pretty heavy. Lesson learned! Might go for the Nüün tablets next time to lighten the load.
3. You Need to Slowly Acclimate to the High Altitude Levels
We would say this is one of the most important step when trekking up high altitudes. We had an incredible guide that demanded we take our time and ascend slowly.
Now it might have been easier if it were a multi-day hike. Getting to a certain altitude then resting for the evening at that altitude or slightly lower, which might allow for your body to adapt.
4. If Hiking Without A Guide, Invest In a Heart Rate & Oxygen Levels Monitor
This device is called a Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Oximetry Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor . It measures not only your heat rate but your oxygen levels. We had a guide and she had one of these devices, and all throughout our hike she would take our heart rate and observe our oxygen levels, making sure we were still in the safe zone to continue the hike.
It’s a very inexpensive device, but in our opinion, it’s a small investment for an important device to have on you.
5. Portable Charger(s)
As travel vloggers, it’s really important that we have fully charged devices or at least a portable charger(s) to keep the visuals alive. It would totally suck to be in a beautiful location and NOT be able to capture that moment because you have a dead camera or cellphone. Let’s not forget, it’s always important to have a charged phone in case of an emergency.
We had a portable charger with us, which we only used at the end of the hike to refresh our almost dead cellphones. We did have several extra charged batteries for our camera and gear. So we were pretty stocked.
We have several but the one we like the most is the Sony CycleEnergy Dual Port. It’s light and works very well. Allowing you to charge two devices at once.
These are a few that we have but we love this one the most.
6. Wear and Bring Sunblock
It’s SOOOO important to cover your body and face in sunblock if you’re doing a high altitude hike. Preferably a broad spectrum high SPF. You do realize your that much closer to the sun. Dave wore shorts and did put sunblock on his face and hands but totally missed his legs and back of his neck and he really got sunburned. Even his scalp was a bit sun burnt.
So any part of your body that’s not covered up should be lathered in sunblock. Perhaps even your scalp. Although, it might be a little weird and feel very greasy. You could wear one of those cool, or to some, not so cool hats, like the one Dave has, but didn’t wear that day. He has am Original Outback Oilskin called ‘Willis with Mesh hat that he picked up at Outback Trading Co.
This is Dave’s hat.
7. Bring Snacks and Lunch
Bringing things like a candy bar, or gummy bears, a banana, or whatever sugar works for you, and of course lunch is important. Things that are rich in carbohydrates can really help reduce the risk of high altitude sickness. This definitely helped me.
8. Bring Something Warm and a Windbreaker
I wore layers which for one helped so I didn’t have to pack it in my already stuffed bag. The thing is you don’t know what to expect at high altitude. It could be pretty windy and the temperatures could be cold. So having those extra layers might be just the ticket to keep you happy.
9. Bring Toilet Paper and a Small Trash Bag
What was interesting in Mexico. This was before we started the hike. We stopped at a gas station market to pick up a few snacks and while there we wanted to use the restroom. They actually charge you for toilet paper. This seemed to be common at a few places. So BYOTP (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper).
Now on the mountain, it’s just you and nature. You’re going to have to use the bathroom along the way. I had to use it like a million times. I was staying hydrated along the hike and I had to go. Also, there’s just something about the high altitude that just makes a girl have to go. So thank goodness, Dave packed the toilet paper.
10. Go Make Some Awesome Memories
Now that we gave you some awesome tips, we want you to just enjoy the thrill. Enjoy mother nature at her finest. Embrace the experience and make some lasting memories.
It’s taking amazing trips like this that brings Dave and I so much closer.
If you’re planning on doing a high altitude hike, we’d LOVE to hear where you’re adventuring off to. Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to get some ideas to add to our upcoming travels. Also, if you’re interested in any of the great that we’re wearing just click the link.
We are not sponsored by any of the products we mentioned. It’s strictly our opinion, and products we enjoy using. The links attached to the items listed are affiliate links. We only use links of products we like and enjoy. If you like to try the items we suggest, please use the attached links. This helps keep us on the road. Thank you!