Too hot? Don’t sweat it

Cool off with a good book.

I have various rules of thumb for when it’s too hot to do certain things. Over 80? Too hot to hike (sweat + overnight cobweb construction + lots of body hair makes me feel like a wad of cotton candy after a mile or so). I draw the line slightly higher, at 85, for running, mainly because of the skimpy apparel involved. I’ll paddle into the low 90s, but not on open, unshaded water. I can handle 90 degrees on a mountain bike; the calculation becomes more involved on a road bike. I’ll ride up to 95 on road, maybe higher if I don’t have to stop; few things are more demoralizing than coming to a stoplight after generating an 18-mile-per-hour breeze, then losing that breeze altogether. (Sweaty fact: 109 F is 42.777 C.)

And when the temperature is 106, as it’s forecast to be today? (Sweaty fact: the hottest it has ever been in the Triangle is 105 F.)

Not even swimming is refreshing at that temperature. When I lived in Dallas I occasionally swam laps in the 50-meter outdoor pool at Southern Methodist University. Come August, with daytime highs typically in the 100-105 range, the water temperature would climb into the upper 90s, making me ever vigilant for cafeteria workers shoveling large quantities of carrots, onion and seasoning into the pool. (Sweaty fact: "Beef" stew should be served at 160 F.)

So, how can you maintain your active lifestyle when the temperature is north of 100, as it’s forecast to be for a good deal of the state through Monday? (Sweaty fact: The highest temperature ever recorded in North Carolina is 110, in Fayetteville on Aug. 21, 1983.)

Hit the gym. Even if you don’t belong to a gym you can usually finagle at least a day or two of working out. Many gyms offer free trial periods (though be prepared afterward for an onslaught of soliciting emails and phone calls) and others charge a modest fee — usually around $10 — for a one-time visit. (Sweaty fact: Unchecked, your body temperature can rise to as high as 104 during a workout.)

Bring the outdoors in at your neighborhood climbing gym.

Hit the climbing gym — The best example of bringing the outdoors in? Your local neighborhood climbing gym. Mine is the Triangle Rock Club in Morrisville, where Joel Graybeal reports, “We have no special plans to do anything in regard to the heat other than making sure that the a/c filters are cleaned daily and that we run the system at night to cool the whole building down ahead of the next day.” Rain rather than heat, adds Graybeal, is more likely to drive active types indoors. To find the climbing gym nearest you, check out our list of North Carolina climbing gyms. (Sweaty fact: The melting temperature of granite is 1215-1260 C.)

Read a good book about people being active. This might be the weekend I break my “wait-‘til-it’s-in-paperback” rule and pony up for Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” Strayed’s account of her 1995 journey on the 2,650-mile trail isn’t your typical trip report, according to reviews. In fact, Strayed wasn’t even a hiker, let alone a thru-hiker, when she set off. Again, according to the reviews, this is a book you best plan on not putting down once you pick it up, a book perfect for a string of 100-plus degree days. For a rundown of other recommended adventure reading, check out the original Outside magazine canon, which appeared in 1996. (Sweaty fact: My eyesight began going south in third grade after I weathered a bout of temperature-spiking German measles by reading continuously.)

Robert Redford, right, with Will Geer (Bear Claw) in "Jeremiah Johnson."

Watch a good film about people being active. Who among us hasn’t looked up from the computer screen bleary-eyed after a three-hour session of 90-second videos showing everything from wingsuit BASE jumping into a Norwegian fiord to surfing the biggest wave ever to Russian teens doing wacky parkour routines atop high-rise buildings? Even though I just provided links to all of the above, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about such full-length classic outdoor fare as “The Eiger Sanction,” “Stand by Me,” “Jeremiah Johnson” or “Cliffhanger.” OK, maybe not “Cliffhanger.” This list of The Top 100 Adventure Movies has some curious choices ("Ratatouille") but it's got a number of winners as well. (Sweaty fact: “Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at which the Brain Begins to Die” was a 2004 documentary that “attempts to correct the record when it comes to the left's attacks on President Bush, 9/11 and the war in Iraq and Kerry's 20-year tenure in the Senate.”)

Riding is even cooler at night.

Wait until dark. I’m not saying you’ll need your fleece if you head out in the evening, but you won’t need a mop, either. A quick review of local Meetup activities shows a night mountain bike ride at Lake Crabtree on Friday, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a last-minute night hike or paddle pops up as well. Follow the action by checking into Meetup.com, entering your zip code and areas of interest, and see what pops up. Note: If you can’t find anyone to head out with you on a night venture, think twice about heading out on your own, especially if you don’t have much night experience. In the daylight if you get in trouble, there’s a good chance someone will stumble upon you. Not so after dark. An early morning outing is likewise an option; the temperature is typically at its coolest shortly after sunrise. But keep in mind the mercury will soar with the rising sun. (Sweaty fact: “Wait Until Dark” probably isn’t a movie you want to wait until dark to watch.)

Sweaty fact: No matter what you do over the next several days, expect sweat to be a part of it.

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