Hiking the smart wayPosted: Updated:
The weather is perfect and the trails are calling, especially for the droves of out-of-towners seeking some sun as they storm the Valley for Spring Training.
But before you -- or they -- hit the desert trails, take a few minutes to prepare.
"They don't need to be a ton of stuff. They just need to do what you need them to do in case things happen," said Jon Mincks from the Arizona Hiking Shack.
In the desert, he says, that starts with water and lots of it. Even when temperatures seem mild. That's because the air is dry and any wind will increase the moisture you lose from your body, not to mention the heat from the sun.
He recommends a minimum of 2 liters of water per person.
That water will not only keep you hydrated but it's also a good indicator of how long your hike will be.
"When you're on that hike, when you're half way through your water, you're halfway through your hike," Mincks explained. "Go home. It's time to start getting back to the car."
He says all too often hikers underestimate the terrain and overestimate their ability.
The sad reality is the heat kills people in Arizona every summer. On average, around 100 people die from heat-related causes each year.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, some groups are more at risk. For example, men make up 7 out of every 10 deaths. Out of those men, adult Hispanic migrants and men 55 years and older succumb the most.
[RELATED: Rescue crews prepared for overheated hikers]
Mincks says if you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. If you start feeling "not well," nauseous or you start getting a headache, it's time to stop and cool down. That's the time to find shade and wet down your clothing, too.
Mincks says there is a list of essentials you should take on every hike.
- 2-3 liters of water
- first-aid kit
- map and compass (in case you don't have a cell signal or your phone dies)
- emergency blanket
- light or head lamp
- Swiss army knife
- two different ways to make fire
In all, these things should cost you no more than $40-50.
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