If you are like me, you want to hike as often as possible no matter what the weather is like. And our weather has been extremely hot and humid lately. I am a member of the Powell County Search and Rescue and we have been responding to a high volume of calls within the last couple of weeks. Many of these are due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. I want to share with you some ways to help your hike be enjoyable and safe.
First thing to do is check the weather. This will allow you to know what clothing to wear. And right now with the heat we have been having, loose clothing is preferred. It allows for better airflow which in turn helps keep you cooler.
Second, choose your trail wisely. Believe it or not this is one of the most important things to do during this heat. There is a big difference hiking on a ridge in the sun to hiking on a lower trail that is all in the shade. Find out the difficulty level and the distance, also.
Third, start early to avoid the midday heat. Miss Katelyn, one of my wonderful co-workers at WSKV, joined me for a hike last Friday on the Skybridge Trail. The first thing we decided was to do it in the morning. And then I chose this trail because it was one of the shorter ones in the gorge and not to strenuous. Well, that is if you start on the trail instead of the bridge. Make sure to do this! Everyone is usually excited to see the bridge first. But if you do that you will have to go up a ton of stairs at the end followed by an uphill grade all the way back to your vehicle.
Fourth, and I cannot stress this enough, take plenty of water. Sweating profusely is a given on a hot weather hike and drinking water is essential to restore your body fluid levels. It's also just as important to replenish the electrolytes you lose through sweating. They play a major role in managing your energy levels. So put a small Gatorade and some salty snacks like a trail mix or energy bars in your pack, too. And now for my last tip.
Fifth, don't feel you have to prove you are in shape. Take breaks! Find a log or a big rock, sit down, pull out your water and snacks and enjoy the scenery. Give your challenged body some much needed rest. Regular breaks also lets your body cool down.
Be careful y'all. I want you to enjoy this beautiful area we live in, but I also want you to get back home safe and sound. OH!! Don't forget bug spray!! Skybridge trail was horrible with flies and deer-flies! The combination of hot and humid weather, a shady forest and a sweaty hiker often results in a swarm of irritating bugs!