With persistently high temperatures and multiple hiking deaths this summer in Utah’s desert, it’s worth taking a look at hot-weather hiking recommendations.
Writing for the blog Section Hiker, Kevin Orcutt today offers some timely tips from an East Coast perspective, reflecting on his summer adventures in Utah and Arizona. Some are self-evident: Avoid mid-day heat and pack light.
Others are more creative, like packing a wet shirt in a zip lock bag to put on if you ever find yourself in danger of heat exhaustion.
One of my favorite tips is "Camel up." I never considered pre-hydrating until I joined the Wasatch Mountain Club for a midsummer canyoneering trip in Zion one August. We were told to drink a lot of water in the days leading up to the trip and each morning on the drive to the trailhead. The first day I did it and felt great. The second day I didn’t, and I ended the day feeling slightly hungover.
Another desert hazard my friends have encountered: unvented hats. One of my coworkers nearly collapsed in southern Utah before realizing that his felt Indiana Jones hat didn’t feel as cool as it looked. Another friend found that just a straw cowboy hat was trapping heat when we were in Capitol Reef last June; mine was vented, and I felt fine until we traded hats.
We Utahns are lucky that we can just wait for cooler seasons to visit hot places. But for permit-restricted destinations like The Wave, even locals are at the mercy of the lottery. It would be painful — PAINFUL — for me to go down to the trailhead, permit in hand, only to cancel the trip because of hot weather. I say this even after three deaths there since June.
If you’re heading south this summer, please have fun but be careful.
— Erin Alberty
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