Be prepared for summer hiking

Judith Kuse

The Sun Lakes Hiking Club’s season is nearly over, but many of its members still enjoy hiking AZ trails throughout the spring and summer months.

They know they must be alert to the special challenges of hiking in the heat, and they prepare well before venturing out. Marilyn Harkins, hike coordinator for the club, put together this list of excellent tips for summer hiking:

* Hike early in the day. When the weather is hot, you can’t really start too early!

* Carry more water than you think you’ll need. The general recommendation is to bring a half liter of water/hour of activity in moderate temperatures and more when it’s hot outside. Drink all the water you’re carrying. Sip and swallow as you go. Frequently check the amount of water left; when half of it is gone, your hike is half over, too.

* Replace electrolytes. When you’re perspiring, you’re losing electrolytes, and if you lose too many, your performance can suffer. Carry a sport drink or powdered electrolytes.

* Wet yourself down periodically. Carry these extras in your backpack:

* Wet a cotton shirt and put it in a sealed baggie. Twirl and/or swing the wet shirt in the air to make it cool before you put it on. Or purchase a cooling towel and pack it in your backpack. It cools instantly when wet, and there are several brands on the market now.

* Avoid wicking material if you want to stay cool in dry heat; cotton is the best fabric to wear then.

* A bandana is one of the most useful items you can have on the trail. Wet it and put it on top of your head or around your neck.

* Carry a spray bottle filled with water in a handy place and mist yourself as needed.

* Instant ice bags are good for a quick cool down if you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion such as confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, pale skin or profuse sweating.

The hiking season for the Sun Lakes Hiking Club is November through April. The official scheduled hikes are described on the club website, meetup.com/sun-lakes-hiking-club. Even though the season comes to a close at the end of April, hiking continues unofficially on some mornings during the summer months. If you are interested in summer hiking, please contact Stu Frost by emailing him at [email protected]