Hiking safely in the desert

Judith Kuse

Hiking in the desert calls for good preparation and a keen sense of one’s capabilities. Hydration is of utmost importance. Drink a liter of water one to two hours before hiking. Carry one liter of water per hour you plan to hike, especially when it’s hot or you’re hiking at a higher altitude. Use a hydration system, a water pack/bladder that you carry as a backpack. It makes toting water easier. After your hike, continue hydrating to replenish your body’s fluids.

Protect yourself from the sun’s intensity. Apply an SPF 30 sunscreen before you begin hiking. Reapply every hour you are outdoors. Wear a hat. It will shield you from the sun and keep you cooler.

Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. Check out a site like vessifootwear.com for an example of shoes that you could wear on your hike. Having the right footwear is important, especially when it comes to an activity like this. Without them, loose rocks are a menace and could prove downright dangerous. Consider purchasing hiking/trekking poles. These are excellent balancing aids for climbing, picking your way along a rocky trail or traversing water.

Finally, carry emergency information with you. Include a list of your current medications and the names of your emergency contacts. In a dire situation, this information could be lifesaving.

So, get hydrated, stow a few liters of water, lace up your hiking boots, apply sunscreen, put on your hat and meet up with the Sun Lakes Hiking Club at 7:45 a.m. at the Cottonwood parking lot for a February hike! If you’re new to the club, plan to go on a Mellow hike and call the hike leader in advance.

A more complete description of the hikes and updated information can be found at the club’s website at http://www.meetup.com/Sun-Lakes-Hiking-Club.

Monday Hikes:

February 5

Motivated — Bell Pass East End Trail to Tom Thumb in McDowell Sonoran Preserve South. Leader Brian Hill 480-802-1050

Moderate — Salt River and Coon Bluff Loop in Tonto National Forest. Leaders Steve and Mary Martz 317-750-0663

Mellow — Whiskey Bottle, Turpentine and Black Hills Trails at Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve North. Leaders Joan Davies 952-818-4774 and Richard Schugel 952-303-1421

February 12

Moderate Plus — Bluff Springs Loop from Peralta Trailhead in the Superstition Mountains. Leader Trudy Alexander 480-895-8418

February 19

Moderate Plus — Wasson Peak at Saguaro National Park West, Tucson. Leader Doug Chirhart 480-883-2834

Mellow — Go John, Quartz, Slate and Flume Trails in Cave Creek Recreational Area. Leader Randy Rothenbuehler 480-404-8790

February 26

Motivated — Black Mesa Loop + Black Top Mesa from First Water Trailhead in the Superstitions. Leaders Scott and Vivienne Torgeson 503-339-5624

Mellow — Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake. Leaders Kandi Skrabala 480-612-3372 and Sherrie Conner 480-236-6818

Wednesday Hikes:

February 7

Moderate — Willow Springs and Mesquite Trails at White Tank Mountains Regional Park. Leader Gene Smestad 480-339-0216

February 14

Moderate — Inspiration Point on the Windgate Pass Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve South, starting at the Gateway Trailhead. Leader Warren Wasescha 651-343-8256

February 28

Moderate — Pass Mountain Loop at Usery Pass Regional Park. Leader Kathy Ivesdahl 480-883-8957