Here’s the short list of what you need to survive a mile closer to the sun and with less oxygen. Because Colorado’s a bit aggressive.
3. A hat
4. Clothes to layer
5. A water bottle
You’ll notice real fast the sun is way more intense here, being at least 5,000′ closer to the sun at all times. You’ll notice the difference between being in the shade vs. the sun, and breathing will become a workout. Onwards!
Did you know you could sunburn your retinas? AND DO NOT FORGET CHAPSTICK WITH SPF, LIP SUNBURNS HURT OMG
Both are real things, get your sunglasses out and have your SPF chapstick on you at all times. I actually wear my sunglasses almost all the time when I’m outside (you can literally get them at Barnes & Noble and they come with a soft case and I’m in love with mine), even if I’m not in direct sun. Find some sunglasses that you’ll wear in cute outfits and hiking clothes because you’ll be doing the most random things in CO. Also chapstick is an all the time thing for me anyways and bless up there are plenty of brands out there with at least 15 SPF.
CO is also the state with the highest rate of skin cancer thanks to the elevation and 300 days of sunshine, which means sunscreen all day everyday! Find one with a higher SPF that feels good on your skin, put it on in the morning before you go out and have it on you to reapply later (I am not as good with sunscreen because sometimes I’m not outside for that long but should probs put sunscreen on anyways, womp). I actually won a raffle and got a nice vegan BB cream for my face that has like 55 SPF in it or something (it was so expensive so I am enjoying this luxury while I have it) that I use when going on longer hikes instead of just a regular sunscreen for my face (our faces are so delicate, please be kind), but I used to have a face moisturizer with SPF in it which was great.
This slideshow actually lists out a few good ones, but I’ve also waltzed into Sephora and picked everyone’s brains for what they know about moisturizers with SPF and what they recommend. I normally go for something with an SPF of 40+. Use whichever you prefer, I’ve just found anything less than that normally leads to my face burning!
So sun protection: sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick with SPF, a hat, and clothes to layer with so you protect your skin and stay warm!
The temperature down at 5,000′ is way hotter than at 8,000′-10,000′ up in the mountains, AKA bring clothes for all weather. Everything cools way down at night, plus make sure you’ve got a hat, gloves, and a jacket (and sweatshirt) to put on when you’re hiking up high. But also make sure you’ve got a tank top and shorts on underneath all of this for when you come back down to Boulder or Denver because it’ll be hot. *shrug* Welcome to CO! If you’re planning on hiking a 14er (one of the 14,000′ peaks in this state), you’ll basically want winter gear up there. Also I always wear leggings on any hike I’ll be doing so my legs don’t get torn to shreds by trees and bushes. I only hiked a handful of times in shorts, and regretted it each time real fast.
Ok why do stairs exist? We’re winded after half a flight. But we are here to hike, fam! Breathing is hard here, that’s true, and you also breathe out twice as much moisture here than at sea level. Drink up, buttercup, and be ready to pee about every couple seconds. Woot!
Get yourself a water bottle and drink more than you ever thought you would. Definitely not alcohol though, woof.
Really any water bottle will work so long as you have it on you 24/7. If you’re actually moving out to CO and plan on being outdoors (or visiting and planning on hiking a lot), it’ll be worth getting a hiking backpack with a water bladder. Just stop at REI and look at everything they have in terms of backpacks and bladders, they’ll always have someone around that can stop and help you pick out absolutely everything based on what you need.
I tried on many many backpacks and got one of Osprey’s Daylite Plus Pack (gotta have room for all my snacks) and a two liter bladder. I use this backpack day-to-day and for any and all hikes I’ve been on, the water has always lasted me for any kind of day hike. This one sits really well on my back regardless of how much shit I pack in it (normally a lot, like a swimsuit, towel, hammock, change of clothes, speaker, hella snacks, journal, random other things I thought I’d unnecessarily need for a four hour hike) plus there are just enough extra pouches and pockets it keeps my stuff organized by my standards. One note is the mesh side pockets definitely can’t hold a water bottle (you could hook a Nalgene through the clips on the back straps), but they can hold random rocks you find and snacks.
Please enjoy this photo of me and my backpack. And my boots! We’re a package deal.
A note on the alcohol though, drinking here will hit you fast and hard like a ton of bricks. Do NOT expect to be able to drink NEARLY as much as you’d be able to back at sea level. If you’re feeling it after a glass or two of wine, ya that’s normal don’t worry, I’ve heard a rule of thumb that says one drink at altitude is the same as two drinks at sea level. For me I still have a pretty hard three drink limit then I have to calm it down, otherwise… it just won’t be fun. Moving on.
Shoes! Tennis shoes are great and all, but some of the hikes are really slippery. Make sure your boots do have a good tread on them so you can grip every surface as much as possible. I proclaim my love for my boots every time I wear them which is nearly everyday, they’re made by a French brand called Palladium. The company first started producing boots after WWII and their boots are super light and sturdy, which means 1) they’ll last long, and 2) you don’t have to lug around extra weight on your feet. The specific kind I got was discontinued, but their sport boot is basically the same thing, which is also waterproof. If you’re an outdoorsy person looking for good boots, these are worth investing in.
Going back to sea level is a shock to the system when you don’t have to squint while outside during the day, and the sun feels so soft (it’s like a warm hug compared to here). In the mean time, enjoy Colorado, and thoroughly enjoy breathing normally again when you go home! P.S. per usual if you have any questions about CO or anything else I talked about in this post, just let me know!
(Also please enjoy this song by Tove Lo I listened to on repeat while ferociously typing this after drinking a latte which is basically the same thing as a cappuccino someone please tell me why they’re different ?????)