Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Surviving The Summer


With two hikers dying due to the heat this week I have several people ask me if I was still hiking every day and if I was crazy to do so. The answers are yes and, well, yes.

It is somewhat crazy to go hiking in the heat we have been experiencing but I do whatever I can to minimize the potential risk.

It's not work. So I don't do it between 9 and 5. It is far too hot in the middle of the day to be out hiking in the desert so I don't do it. I try to finish early or start late.

Short is sweet. I've done hikes over thirty miles in one day before but in extreme temperatures I keep them short, under five miles most days.

Wetter is better. They make all kinds of clothing meant to keep you dry. I prefer good old natural cotton and linen because it keeps me wet. By drying slowly, these fabrics allow for evaporative cooling and slow the loss of body fluids. Being dry may be great to alleviate chafing for endurance athletes in moderate temperatures(and shorts are OK) but for hikers in hot weather it's OK to be wet.

Made in the Shade It is easy to find areas in both the early morning and the late afternoon where most of your hike will be in the shade. That is important because the radiant heat from direct sunlight intensifies the sun's effects both in the evaporation of moisture and sunburn.

With all these things in mind I went on a short hike in the shade with sufficient fluids and a damp shirt.

I headed over to the Cahuilla Hills Park Trailheads and headed up the Gabby Hayes Trail. The temperature when I start hiking is 107ยบ, lovely. This is a new sign. I may put this number in my phone just in case.

While there are no other hikers I'm not totally alone on the trail. It's nice to have company when you're crazy. At least we have that in common.

The trail heads up the hill and you can see where some idiots cut the switchbacks. I have seen too much erosion on too many trails to think about cutting switchbacks.

I got up to the switchbacks and wonder what's up this canyon. I'll wait for the weather to cool in order to find out.

I get to the point where the trail heads up to the Cross but I decide it's too hot for that.

So I sit on some rocks and enjoy the view. I sit, that is, until the heat from the rocks I am sitting on starts to burn my butt. I'll have to add that to my rules of hot weather hiking.

A new shade structure over this picnic table would be nice, one with misters. Maybe I'll call that new number and see if they can get to work on it.

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