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Hiking In the Summer Heat

Special care must be taken when hiking in the high temperatures produced in the desert southwest. The effects of simple dehydration and prolonged exposure to the sun can quickly turn into a life threatening situation unless extra care is taken. Most importantly, you should always plan to be off the trail during the hottest time of the day, between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Water, water, water – mixed with sport drinks including electrolytes is most imperative. A minimum of one quart of water/sport drink is needed for every hour you plan to hike. And eat salty snacks too, drinking only water can lead to Hyponatremia caused by sodium depletion.

Be sure you bring sunglasses even if it appears to be a mostly cloudy day. Remember out here, “the skies are not cloudy all day,” so you don’t want to be caught hiking in the full sun without eye protection. Sunscreen too is a must for any exposed skin - especially face, neck, shoulders, and the back of your legs. Don’t forget to reapply it as necessary.

I always wear a large brimmed hat with a long “foreign legion” style cape to keep my neck shaded. A good hat will also provide some ventilation to help cool your head.

Lastly, you should wear cotton in the summer when hiking. The perspiration wicking synthetic type fabrics are great, and should be worn during other seasons to prevent hypothermia, but in the summer you want to wear cotton because it stays wet and therefore provides more cooling.

Hike Smart & Have Fun!

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