Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was briefly hospitalized early Friday after falling ill at a restaurant where he was dining with former President Clinton and others, police said.

Aspen police Sgt. Bill Linn, who said he spoke with Powell while he was in the hospital under observation, said the four-star general told him it appeared to be a combination of altitude sickness and something he ate.

"He is conscious and in very good spirits," Linn said shortly before Powell was released from Aspen Valley Hospital at 1:45 a.m. Linn said Powell asked him to speak with reporters.

"He asked me to pass along that this is not a cardiac event and that he thinks he'll be fine," Linn said.

Powell's Alexandria, Va.-based secretary, Peggy Cifrino, did not immediately return a phone call left at her office.

A nursing supervisor at the hospital, where former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay was rushed to and pronounced dead early Wednesday, refused to comment.

A reporter from the Aspen Daily News saw Powell sitting in an ambulance at about 11 p.m. Thursday. His wife, Alma, and an aide looked on as two paramedics attended to his care, according to the newspaper.

After sitting for several moments, paramedics had him lie down inside the ambulance.

Powell, 69, was in Aspen for the Aspen Ideas Festival, a conference in its second year that invites some of the world's leading thinkers.