Backpacking can be an intense physical challenge when you’re trying to grab a hold of the most scenic view or secluded location. Phrases like “Just a little bit further to the top” are constantly in the air as you push your body to experience the raw outdoor beauty at the next lookout or campsite. This makes proper hydration vitally important to not only your endurance, but also your safety in such a remote environment. So when I traveled from Austin, TX to go backpacking in British Columbia, Canada with a few friends, I made sure to be extra vigilant of how my body was handling the change.
The initial challenge was the strain of traveling on my body from the start. Well known in the competitive sports world, long distance travel is hard on your body. I always bring an empty water bottle through security to fill up in the terminal and sip on as I travel, but this time it was more necessary than ever as we planned to hike 6.5 miles into the first camp sight on the day we landed.
The second concern was the quick elevation change. Coming from almost sea level in Austin, TX to hiking well above 5,350 ft in Banff, Canada is something you can never be totally ready for, but you can keep yourself from getting altitude sickness with adequate sleep and hydration. Depending on the severity of your elevation change, it can take your body weeks to fully acclimate. In the mean time, drink a little more water than normal and stay in tune with what your body is telling you it needs because getting altitude sickness in the middle of nowhere could make a situation turn serious very quickly.
The final piece of the puzzle is the sweat that goes along with hiking miles on end with a heavy pack on your back. The humidity in Banff was 80-90% during our trip and we were sweating like crazy during our 65 mile loop in the back country. Understanding how to properly hydrate to replenish that sweat allowed the group to hike longer, climb higher and stave off altitude sickness while we did what we all came to do in the first place - to enjoy the epic landscape in the Canadian Rockies without anything holding us back.