Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dealing with Heat on a Hike

I recently spent a week in my hometown of Bend, Oregon. Temperatures soared into the 90s and 100s. It was hard to get out and run or hike as I'm not used to it being that hot. We made the most of it by walking more slowly and taking frequent rest breaks. But I'll admit that it sapped me for the most part. It’s very hard to hike uphill in the heat and our summer this year has been pretty warm so far. 

As we come to the later months of summer you will notice that our hike meet times are getting earlier. Many hike leaders like to do all of their gain in the cool of the morning and I am certainly one of them. It’s not uncommon to meet at 5:00 and 6:00 AM in August just so we can start hiking around 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. On one hike I led a couple of years ago, the meet time was 4:30 so we could get on the trail by 7:00. Hiking uphill requires a lot of energy and having to counteract the heat as well can really tax your body. So while crawling out of bed in the wee hours of the morning may seem really yukky at the time, you’ll appreciate it later in the day. 

You’ll also find that your need for water really amps up on a hot day. It’s not uncommon to bring at least 4 liters of water on these hikes, along with the ability to purify more water if needed. I carry iodine tablets with me at all times as well as a 1 liter bottle so I can purify water without having to put the iodine tablets in my water bladder. You will want to be sure that you bring some sort of purification method with you as well. You never know when you’ll run out of water and need to use it. 

Be sure that you have some sort of plan for replacing electrolytes. Most people bring along an extra liter of Gatorade or some other sports drink with them. I usually find that most people who end up feeling really bad on a hot day have neglected to consume something like this during the day. I personally use Emergen-C or Nuun which I find not be as sweet as Gatorade and other sports drinks. So if you’re drinking lots of water and eating well but still feeling bad, then try drinking some sort of sports drink. As with water consumption, this is best done in frequent, but smaller amounts. Don’t guzzle a whole liter of sports drink at once or you’ll waste its benefits by inundating your body with more than it can use at once.  

Also be sure to use plenty of sunscreen and wear sunglasses. I often have to reapply sunscreen several times during a hike—especially to my face. Sometimes the best remedy against the sun is to cover up exposed skin, either with lightweight clothing or by wearing a hat to shield your face. I have been known to use my umbrella on really hot sunny days to shield myself from the heat and rays. 

Finally, bring a bandanna or towel along to dip in streams as you pass along them. I like to put a wet bandana around my neck on a hot day. It really helps cool me down. I also like to put my feet in water whenever possible. This really helps them deal with miles by reducing swelling.  

If you’ve got any other ideas, be sure to post them either in the comments of this blog or on the Facebook page. I’d love to know how others deal with heat.   

1 comment:

  1. I like to bring a little spray bottle. It feels good to spritz my face with a cooling mist. I fill the spray bottle with ice cubes that melt as the day wears on.