Summer Hiking Tips To Have Fun And Stay Safe
Jun 10, 20
Summer is a lovely time to hike. Clear, bright weather, sunny skies, and long daylight hours mean you can spend more hours on the trail. But, those same appealing traits also comes with a few hazards.
Hiking in the hot summer weather means you have to deal with potential heat exhaustion, more frequent breaks, and staying hydrated during the hike. The key to managing this is being adequately prepared. Here are a few tips to help you plan.
Plan Your Route
Get to know your route beforehand. Many trails can be extremely challenging under a searing summer sun. Halfway through your hike is not a good time to find out that the trail has no tree cover, infrequent break spots and limited places to refill your water bottle.
When choosing a trail, look out for these three things – elevation, shade, and water. Because heat is a big challenge to hiking in summer, the easiest way to maintain a reasonable temperature is to pick a trail that isn’t in direct sunlight - at least not completely. Trails that have trees for shade or trails within steep canyon walls are your best options at this time of year.
Trails that are close to water are also a good call. A cool lake or soft river breeze can be a welcome relief in the middle of a hike. You can even dip your shirt or hat in the water to cool yourself off.
Another option is to go up. Mountains are good trail choices in the heat because for every 1000ft you climb, you lose about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature. The higher you go, the cooler it is.
The first thing in a hiker’s starter pack is water - at least, it should be. While hiking in summer water should definitely be the number one priority. Long hours in the sun and the physical exertion your body goes through while hiking will make you lose water through sweating or taking a leak.
You can do yourself a huge favour by pre-hydrating. Drink up to a litre before heading out on the hike. During the hike, take regular sips of water throughout. Don’t just down huge quantities of water all at once. You’ll probably just end up peeing it all out anyway. Sip as you go. Staying hydrated prevents headaches, tiredness, chapped lips, and dizziness.
Apart from water, a few sports drinks would be beneficial. They do more than just replace lost fluids. A good sports drink will replenish electrolytes and provide you with much needed energy.
Choose light or bright colours to help you reflect the sun’s rays. Dark coloured clothing tend to absorb heat. Loose-fitting lightweight clothes will help your body regulate temperature. Wear a hat to protect your eyes, face, and neck from the sun. Take a bandana to protect your neck or to wrap around your face to shield yourself from dust and other elements.
Your footwear should be lightweight and comfortable. Depending on the terrain, you can wear hiking boots too. To protect your skin from sunburns and UV rays, put on sunscreens - and don’t forget to reply on breaks.
Get An Early Start
The sun is usually most intense during the mid-day to afternoon periods. Starting out early means you can get through much of the trail before temperatures climb too high. Take advantage of the lower early morning temperatures and power through as much of the trail as you can.
If you feel your muscles contracting or you feel exhausted and dizzy, you’ve probably gone way beyond the point that you needed to take a break. Pushing your body so hard in the summer heat can be really bad for your body. While everybody is different in terms of how far they can push their body without causing serious harm, you should really aim to take a break every 1-2 hours.
Hiking is fun whatever the season. To get the best of any outdoor activity, however, you need to consider the weather and plan accordingly. Hiking is no different. And while the bright sunshine beckons us to head outside, it is important to take the right precautions and make sure we have the correct gear.