Hiking in extreme weather conditions requires extra precautions. When embarking on an outdoor excursion in the hot summer months, preparation is key to ensuring safety.
This past weekend, I took the Orchard Glen footpath in Wallingford as temperatures rose above 90 degrees.1. Plan your route
If possible, try to time your hike so that you are not outside during the warmest hours of the day, between noon and 3pm. Aim for a morning or evening hike.
Keep a map or GPS system handy throughout your hike in case you become lost, need to cut your hike short, or want to change routes.
Hike near water so you can dip your hands, toes, or clothing items in periodically to stay cool.
Be mindful of shaded burrows where you can rest. Orchard Glen trail leads to a scenic waterfall where hikers can retreat from the sun and enjoy the natural environment. 2. Attire
Wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing to avoid overheating. Dress in layers to prevent insect bites.
Nylon, Polyester, and SPF clothing items are good summer options. Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, even if it is not a visibly sunny day.
Use a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.
Wear comfortable shoes with a bit of wiggle room, keeping in mind that your feet will swell throughout your trek.3. Food and beverages
Bring plenty of snacks and liquids on your hike.
Pack foods that have some salt like nuts, seeds, crackers, or trail mix to replenish the body’s sodium supply which is diminished when sweating.
Choose foods that won’t spoil easily in the heat and bring drinks low in sugar, as they can cause excess thirst.
Since you are preparing for extreme conditions, consider packing your snacks in an insulated lunch box with icepacks to preserve freshness.
Be sure not to drink too much water at the detriment to your salt intake. Drink only when you are thirsty and take bites of your salted snacks frequently.4. Know the signs of heat exhaustion
Know how to spot heat exhaustion and dehydration in yourself, children, and pets.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion in humans include headache, fatigue, and nausea.
Heat exhaustion in children may present as cool and clammy skin, goosebumps, and cramps.
Pets may experience excess drooling, distressed breathing, and pale gums.
Be aware that it takes the body time to acclimate to extreme conditions, ease into your first hikes of the hot summer season and know your limits.5. Go in a group
There is safety in numbers when it comes to hiking.
With social distancing still being a priority, outdoor adventures are an excellent way to responsibly enjoy the company of others at a safe distance.
If you prefer to hike solo, you may want to stick to frequently traveled footpaths that are easily accessible to the public in the event that you are in need of assistance.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris – https://dearfitkris.wordpress.com/