Staying safe on the hiking trail

Sun Lakes Hiking Club members stay hydrated on the Alta Trail at South Mountain.

Sun Lakes Hiking Club members stay hydrated on the Alta Trail at South Mountain.

Judith Kuse

Although hydration is important anytime you hike, it is of paramount importance when you are hiking in the desert. If you are hydrated, you will stay cooler, have greater endurance and burn more calories. If you become dehydrated, your body functions more slowly and your energy is depleted. Thirst signals that dehydration has begun and, on the hiking trail, this can be downright dangerous. More serious signs of dehydration are dizziness, cramps, nausea and headaches.

So how can you best prepare to remain hydrated while hiking? Begin drinking water about two hours before hitting the hiking trail. Rather than taking big gulps of water, sip it often. Use a hydration system from the likes of Teton Sports or the likes. A good water pack that you carry as you would a backpack, and it will make this easy, alternatively you can install a detachable water pack in a lightweight backpack like those from Arkadia Supply. As for amounts of water to carry, a rule of thumb is to drink one liter of water/hour in hot or humid conditions and/or higher altitudes. Wear a hat to shield you from the sun and keep you cooler. If you’re cooler, you won’t have to drink as much water to stay hydrated. After you finish hiking, continue drinking water to replenish your body’s levels.

Proper hydration means you will enjoy your desert hike more because you will feel better, and you will be able to hike faster and farther!

So, grab a hat, get (and stay) hydrated beforehand and then join the Sun Lakes Hiking Club on its February hikes, all of which are listed below. For all hikes, except as noted, meet at the Cottonwood parking lot at 7:45 a.m. to carpool to the trailhead. Those who are new to the club and plan to go on a Motivated hike should call the hike leader in advance of the hike. A more complete description of the hikes and updated information can be found at the club’s website at

Monday Hikes:

February 6—(Mellow) TBA. Leader Liz Morque 612-201-4213.; (Moderate) Mormon/Fat Man/National Trail at South Mountain. Leader Jerry Anderson 847-489-1639; (Motivated) South Mountain Double Lasso. Leader Mei-Mei Ahlskog 480-883-2013.

February 13—(Mellow) Pipeline Canyon Trail at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Leader Bonnie Tasch 303-868-7360; (Moderate) Siphon Draw. Leader Greg Jewell 480-282-0061; (Motivated) Bug Spring, Tucson—Mt. Lemmon Highway. Leader Bud Tasch. 303-868-0216.

February 20—(Mellow) Jacob’s Crosscut from Lost Dutchman State Park. Leader Richard Enns 408-307-1140; (Moderate) Go John and Overton Trail at Cave Creek. Leader Greg Jewell 480-262-0061; (Motivated) Ballantine Trail. Leaders Scott and Vivienne Torgeson 503-339-5624.

February 27—(Mellow) Hieroglyphics Canyon and Lost Goldmine Trail. Leader Vicki Deken 480-688-1771; (Moderate) Busera at South Mountain. Leader Tracey Nielson 918-944-9261; (Motivated) Bursera Loop at South Mountain. Leaders Gary and Dina Brinkman 480-206-7427.

Wednesday Hikes:

February 1—(Moderate) Bluff Springs Loop Trail – Superstition Mountains. Leader Mike Josephson 248-496-5369.

February 8—(Moderate) Mesquite Canyon and Willow Canyon Trails at White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Leader Gene Smestad 480-339-0216.

February 15—(Moderate) Inspiration Point in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Leaders Joan Porterie 360-904-9049 and Chris Vipond 612-998-3773.

February 22—(Moderate) Piestewa Peak in Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Pre-approval required. Call Leader Stu Frost 602-332-5676.

Treasurer Mike Foerster would like to remind club members that dues for the 2017 calendar year are $10/member. New member dues are $15/member. Dues can be paid to the treasurer at monthly club meetings or club social events and must be paid no later than February 28, 2017.

For more information about the SLHC, visit the club’s website listed above or contact club President Cheryl Verlander at 480-883-2766.