Breckenridge and Altitude Sickness Problems

Miles Driven:      115               Total Miles Driven: 5803

We’ve been suffering a bit from the altitude over the last couple of days.  Our resort is just shy of 10,000 feet and lots of the areas we’ve visited around town are 11,000+ feet above sea level.  Breckenridge is HIGH!!!!  We thought we’d be ok because we’ve spent the previous weeks at 6-8000 feet.  But no.  Bob has been getting quite breathless, even when lying down and has had several nose bleeds.  I’ve had swollen eyes and an upset stomach. Both of us are suffering from poor, disturbed sleep.  Our friend Ricky really got it badly after about 12 hours here and was quite ill the last 24 hours he was with us.  They were glad to head back down to normal climes when they left yesterday.   We had a really quiet day around the resort, barely stirring.  Not sure if that helped really.  One of the symptoms is that the nasal tissues swell up which makes you feel like you have a cold, and in combination with heating/ac this makes you feel wretched.

So, today we decided to break out and make the best of the beautiful weather and see if that would make us feel better.  We tried a short walk first.  We drove just north of Breckenridge to an overlook above Dillion Reservoir at around 9,500 feet, named Sapphire Point Overlook.  We parked up and walked around the overlook trail, roughly a mile.  It was a lovely walk with good views of the mountains and the blue reservoir beneath.  That went well.  In fact we felt better for the fresh air, our noses seemed to clear.  It was warm.  We walked in t shirts.  It was about 16C.

We decided to try another recommended short walk.  This one was at a place called Blue Lakes, just south of Breckenridge.  The trailhead is up a gravel road off Route 9.  The gravel road was in pretty good condition, albeit with the usual sharp drop on one side.  We drove about 5 miles to the car park at the top, just below a dam.  There are two lakes, the upper is dammed and then the Blue River flows down to the lower lake and beyond.   Stunning area, above the tree line.  The car park is at about 11,600 feet and then you walk up about 200 feet to the dam.  It was very windy up there, although not cold – 12C and strong sun.  We put jackets on here, just because of the wind.  A bit of a huff and puff up to the dam but we made it.  This is a place where white mountain goats are often seen and I could well believe that, but we didn’t see any.

We came back to the car, drove down to the lower lake, parked and had our picnic lunch.  Pork sandwiches and some of Ricky’s lovely rock buns.  Fantastic views in all directions.

We decided to have one last walk so we drove back into Breckenridge and up French Gulch road to the Minnie Mine Trail.  This is a 1.6 mile loop through a forest and passing some old disused mine buildings and workings.  The whole area along the gulch is marked by gold mining and dredging.  We parked up and took the trail.  T shirt weather again here at about 10,000 feet.  The narrow trail rose through the forest.  The aspens were past their best, it must have been spectacular perhaps a couple of weeks ago.  Still pretty though.  The first 1/2 mile was quite steep, then it levelled off and we walked along a ridge.  At the turn, the trail was downhill for a way.  We then managed to get off the trail and ended up on the road.  Walked the last .5 mile along the road uphill back to the carpark.  A really nice walk, would do that one again and not go wrong this time.

We felt so much better for getting out and about.  We’ll do something similar tomorrow.  I don’t know that I would choose to stay this high up again but hopefully we can enjoy our last few days.  Not sure how people manage who just fly in for a week’s skiing.  The ski slopes here are even higher than the resort – many start at over 12,000 feet.  I’m not sure skiing with a tight chest and a woozy head is a great idea.  Something to very much consider.

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