Sun Lakes Hiking Club—Summer Hiking Smarts

Sun Lakes Hiking Club members DeEtte Faith, Diane Alessi, and Henry Silberblatt enjoy the view near Tom's Thumb last month in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (Photo by Henry Silberblatt)

Sun Lakes Hiking Club members DeEtte Faith, Diane Alessi, and Henry Silberblatt enjoy the view near Tom’s Thumb last month in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (Photo by Henry Silberblatt)

Warren Wasescha

As Valley temperatures reached 112°F, a friend called to say he caught the news of multiple hikers being rescued from trails due to fainting, heat stroke, and falls. Then last week, the news of a man rescued who stepped aside to let faster hikers pass, only to have the rock he leaned on roll and pin him down. It took multiple firemen and volunteers to remove the estimated 400-pound rock off his leg. And then today, a text alert appeared on my phone about unhealthy air and a warning to not exercise outdoors. Add a recent news reminder that 14 hikers have already been bitten by rattlesnakes in early May, plus COVID-19 worries, and you begin to wonder if hiking this summer is really a good idea or not. The quick answer is “yes” but only if you are smart about it.

High temps and unhealthy air? Take a pass on the trails that day. Too many cars parked near the trailheads or trails look crowded? Choose wisely and head elsewhere, or go home.

Temperatures and air quality good, and trailheads not too crowded, but there’s concern of meeting up with a rattlesnake? Go on your hike. But stay on the trails. Back away if you hear rattling. Be the second person walking on the trail, as the hike leader is most often the one bitten. And if you happen to be the hike leader, be mindful of looking and listening for any signs of a rattlesnake ahead. You can still hike safely. You just have to hike smart.

Hiking smart means bringing enough water, electrolytes, and snacks with you. It means good sun-protection clothing, wide-brim hats, and sunscreen. It means being aware of your surroundings.

With COVID-19 worries, remember to bring a mask to put on if there are too many people hiking near you. And don’t forget hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes if you need to use trailhead restrooms or sign-in sheets.

It all adds up to being smart about the choices you make, including hiking. Hiking is one of the best activities around. Just be smart about when, where, and how you do it.

Like the idea of hiking and socializing with others? Search “Sun Lakes Hiking Club” in your web browser and visit our “Meetup” site to see descriptions and pictures of the hikes the club has done in the past. Hikes are offered at all skill levels.

Should we get the all-clear on social distancing, our regular hiking season is November through April, with off-calendar hikes happening in the summer. Contact Stu Frost for more details at [email protected]

Interested in more information about our club? Please contact our president, DeEtte Faith, at [email protected]

As always, we are a friendly, inclusive group that welcomes all able-bodied hiking enthusiasts!