High Elevation Hiking Tips and Lightning Storm Protection – CleverHiker.com
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Hiking in beautiful locations can often come with unavoidable tradeoffs. Backpacking above tree line will give you fantastic sweeping views, but you’ll also be much more exposed.
Lightning safety and high elevation hiking safety are two key skills that often go hand in hand. Learning how to safely navigate these dangers will lead to rewarding trips in breathtaking locations.
In the mountains, lightning storms are common in the afternoon, so get an early start and make sure you won’t be in an exposed area early in the early afternoon when storms are likely to form.
Pay close attention to the weather while you hike and watch for any aggressive cloud formations. You’ll often be able to see the weather coming before it gets to you, so stay alert.
The storm is 1 mile away for every 5 seconds you count, or 1 kilometer for every 3 seconds. In general, if you counted less than 30 seconds, you should already be in your shelter.
If you’re feeling exposed, you should take the lightning crouch position to limit your exposure.
Crouch down to minimize your height and stand on the balls of your feet to limit your contact with the ground.
Put your hands over your ears, close your eyes, and put your head in-between your knees. That will minimize the damage if you do get struck by lightning.
If someone in your group is struck by lightning, get emergency medical help as soon as possible. A person that has been struck by lightning is safe to touch, there is no electric charge remaining.
Check the victim for breathing and heartbeat. If there is no breathing or heartbeat, start CPR immediately.
Any hike above 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) should be considered high elevation, and you could feel the effects. The higher you climb, the more risks you’re going to encounter.
Air pressure is lower at high elevations, which means that you’ll be getting less oxygen with every breath.
Your body will have to work harder and you will likely notice the effects of altitude, especially on big climbs.
Some people will experience altitude sickness when they hike at high altitudes and others may not. It’s not something you can’t prepare for, it just happens to some people and doesn’t to others.
Symptoms can be as subtle as slight headaches or trouble sleeping, and they can be as severe as high altitude edemas, which can be fatal. So don’t take high altitude sickness lightly.
Acclimatization is key to avoiding altitude sickness on high trails. It’s never a good idea to drive from a low elevation to a high elevation hiking area and hop out of your car to go for a strenuous hike. Instead, ease into your trip and let your body adjust.
Acute Mountain Sickness, is the most common way that hikers feel the negative effects of high elevations.
Symptoms of AMS include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and shortness of breath. In advanced stages, hikers might feel disoriented or confused and start to stagger.
If symptoms are mild, you can rest at the same elevation for a few hours until you start to feel better, but it’s never a good idea to just push through the pain and hike higher.
Ignoring high altitude sickness symptoms can lead to High Altitude Pulminary & Cerebral Edimas, which is an excess of fluid in your lungs or brain.
Both of these conditions will lead to impaired judgment and can be incredibly deadly, so don’t play around with altitude sickness.
The only sure cure for Acute Mountain Sickness is to descend, so pay close attention to symptoms and don’t wait until it’s too late to take action.
The mountains will always be there, but if you’re too stubborn, you might not.
So take the correct precautions, pay close attention to your body, and make smart choices. Follow those rules and you’re sure to have a safe and amazing trip.