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High Living

Brad Eich - Wednesday, April 02, 2014

High Living

Colorado is higher and dryer than most states.  Evergreen and Conifer living can range in elevations from 7200 feet to 10,000 +. A few challenges living at altitude might include, baking, gardening, driving, consumption of alcohol and breathing.   Here are few tips to getting your bread to rise, your garden to grow, your driving in line, your hangover to subside and your breathing to flow. 

When baking use 5% less flour and 20% more water.  A dough that is pliable and moist will offset our dry mountain air.  Let your dough rise to 60%-70% vs the normal doubling in size.  Reducing yeast quantity will also help the dough rise more slowly.  Bake cakes and dough’s at temperatures 25 degrees higher and baking times of 25% less. 

One of the biggest challenges in mountain gardening is the short growing season we have.  In general we have about a month less growing time compared to the plains of Denver.  Start your seeds 6-10 weeks early inside and wait until the end of May to plant outside.  Plant your garden on a gentle or terraced slope south and southeast facing for a full day of sun.  Fence your garden, as Elk will eat most anything that is non-native.  Here are few vegetables that do well: beets, carrots, potatoes, lettuces, brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, strawberries and peas.

There is nothing more frustrating to see a driver heading down the hill riding his breaks.  The better way to slow on long extended grades is by down shifting.  Down shifting uses the engine to drop speed, decreasing the likelihood of slippage and increases the life of your breaks.  Most all-newer cars come with a make shift options that allow for downshifting. Check your manual

Myth or Fact:  You get more drunk at high altitudes.  According to high altitude health expert Dr. Peter Hackett, “Altitude does not enhance the effects of alcohol but alcohol can enhance the effects of altitude.” Alcohol will slightly depress breathing, mostly during sleep.  The result can be a higher chance of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Dr. Hackett goes onto say, “A hangover is a hangover, no matter the altitude—and you can have both a hangover and AMS. It’s an ugly combination. Bottom line: The blood level of alcohol at altitude is no different than at sea level.”

Breathing at higher altitudes is more difficult.  It’s best that sea level barring friends spend a night in Denver before rushing off to the higher mountains. It’s easiest to avoid AMS by ascending gradually.  Real acclimation only begins when the increase of red blood cells reaches a plateau and stops. The length of full adaptation can be approximated by multiplying the altitude in kilometers by 11.4 days. Doing the math at 7500 feet would require 23 days for full acclimation.

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