It’s no secret that Colorado is the hot spot to live right now. People are flocking here in droves for some green on green action, and it has curb appeal that puts other states to shame. It’s hard to blame them, but there are laws of the land that are important to adhere to in order to not only survive life in the clouds, but also to survive the wrath of the mountain folks who will reprimand anyone who disrespect their stomping grounds.
Living here requires an altitude adjustment.
Life above sea level does take some adjusting to, and with that, a new level of understanding is required. It is helpful to acquire this knowledge beforehand, lest ye be schooled by Mother Nature (who I hear is quite unforgiving).
SO now that you’re here, here are 5 tips to adjust to your new surroundings.
1.) WET YOUR WHISTLE – This sounds like a no-brainer, but it cannot be emphasized enough. Unless you live under a rock, (or in Limon) it’s hard not to feel the pull of the outdoors nagging you to come out and boldly embark on a new brave and epic adventure. The more active you are, the more you sweat, and the higher up in elevation you climb, the lower the humidity and the lesser the sensation of thirst. There is also 25% less protection from the sun in the absence of those pesky water molecules in the air. So basically you want to think of yourself as an empty vessel at the Deep Rock 5-gallon water refill station at all times. This goes for year-round activity; winter sports are no exception. Sunscreen, ChapStick and a water bottle should be part of your everyday uniform. Colorado women take care of their bodies and don’t let anything hold them back!
2.) TRAIL ETHICS – Brush up on your Leave No Trace outdoor ethics and it will save you a world of backlash. Coloradans love and respect their mountains and expect newcomers to do the same. There are literally thousands of miles of rivers and hiking trails and, also, not one single forest janitor. Gosh darnit, who woulda thunk! Being a trail fairy and picking up other people’s garbage and dog poop bags is exhausting, disgusting, and nobody wants that responsibility. Plus, it’s much easier to bond with your newfound tribe of adventurous women when we all come together to make the outdoors a more enjoyable place for everyone and you’re not using the forests as your personal trash can. More info at Leave No Trace.
3.) SLOW YOUR ROLL – Did you know that at one mile above sea level, there is less air resistance and balls travel ten percent faster? (SPORTS balls, you guys!) Well, so does alcohol; the higher you rise, the harder you fall. Higher elevations are stingy with the humidity and oxygen, and since alcohol naturally dehydrates you, you’ve already got more cards stacked against you right out of the gate. It’s a cruel, cruel joke to have more than 140 craft microbreweries at your disposal when you’re chillin’ in the sky with no oxygen, but sadly, being close to the heavens doesn’t automatically pardon anyone from the ill-effects of too many cocktails simply due to their proximity to the divine. Besides, look around, the divine is all around you! So until you feel your body has properly acclimated, take it easy with the Tommy Boy enthusiasm. You’ll need to be on your A-game for whatever adventure tomorrow brings.
4.) WARM IT UP, CHRIS – In Colorado, layering is an art form. It can go from 30 degrees at 6am, to 80 degrees and noon, to an electrical storm at 4pm, followed by a quickie tornado, and a winter weather advisory by the time you go to bed. Layering is the delicate dance we all need to learn whether we want to learn it or not. Nobody wants to wear a plaid, puffy, mountain mama lumberjack vest year round, so integrating multi-functional and multi-seasonal pieces in to your wardrobe is key. Sometimes you will end up bundled up like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, so it’s important not to take yourself too seriously. I recommend Voormi high performance gear, a Colorado-based company keeping jobs in the US and walking the walk.
5.) CARBS ARE YOUR FRIEND – In Colorado, there is no such thing as too many carbs. Carbohydrates improve your body’s ability to absorb oxygen and gives you that little kick of energy that you may need when you’ve skied half-way down A-Basin and your brain starts pounding because you’ve over-exerted yourself and you’re dehydrated (see tip #1). Avoid salty foods as this increases your blood pressure and can intensify the symptoms of altitude sickness. Know the symptoms of being awesome – if you feel nauseous, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, or like someone has your skull in a vice, you are likely doing something epic so give yourself a high-five. THEN, amp up your water intake, eat some carbs, and pop a few Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is the Tic-Tac of the mountains.
FUN FACT: Between 2013 and 2014, Colorado’s population grew by more than 200,000 people, which is how many years it took us humans to evolve from archaic Neanderthals (who rolled boulders around and lived in caves) to highly evolved, intelligent, sophisticated people (who go bouldering and sleep outside just for kicks). But thankfully, unlike early humans, we have easy access to water, ChapStick, sunscreen, booze, lumberjack vests, and carbs – which is really all you need if you’re going to enjoy life in the clouds. Welcome.
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