This weekend, seasonal temperatures finally arrive, and it appears they will will stick around at least through midweek. As the days heat up, you might be tempted to cool it on your hiking habit. But, actually, you can hike all summer long — the secret lies in the when and where. Here are a few tips from a piece we run the beginning of most summers to keep you on the trail .
Usually it’s mid-June before we’re forced to address the issue of summer heat. Before, that is, we’re forced to issue our annual plea to stay on the trail during the summer months ahead.
In some parts of the U.S. — the Northeast, the Pacific Coast, the mountain states — hikers live for the summer and its warm days. Not here, where Summer is equated with still air, sticky clothes and sweat-stung eyes.
This past weekend’s GetBackpacking! trip had the forecast for disaster: high temperatures around 90 under sunny skies. Not the best way to make a favorable first impression, especially to folks unaccustomed to hiking with 35 pounds on their backs. And yet … .
Whooo, baby! We’re looking at our first 90-degree weekend of the year. And you had your heart set on taking a hike.
No need to cancel your plans. You just need to alter them a wee bit.
From our GetHiking! Guide to Summer Hiking, a bit of advice:
- Dress appropriately. Button-up fishing and hiking shirts typically have vents and mesh that do a good job of keeping your torso from building up head. Shorts are good, but there are also inexpensive lightweight nylon pants that protect your legs without keeping in the heat.
- Hydrate. Always important, especially in heat. Increase your desire to drink by packing cold water, either by filling a water bottle three-quarters full the night before, freezing it and topping it off with cold water before the hike, or by loading a bladder with ice, then filling in the nooks and crannies with cold water.
- Hike early. The coolest part of the day. This weekend, the temperatures shortly after sunrise should be in the low 60s.
- Hike late. Temperatures typically peak late afternoon, then drop as the sun does. By 6:30 p.m. you should be down 10 degrees from the day’s high, and you’ll benefit from a continually dropping thermostat.
- Choose a heat-resistant trail. How, you ask? Look for trails with:
- Higher elevations. The temperature drops roughly 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
- Near water. Trails along creeks or around lakes are especially good. If you start to overheat, kick off your boots and wade in.
- Look for a northern exposure. Trails that spend most of their time on a northern exposure, away from direct sunlight, tend to be cooler.
Not sure you want to do that much research? Worry not. We have some recommendations.
The following is a post we rerun when the temperatures heat up and we’re suddenly, sometimes unexpectedly, at greater risk for heat exhaustion. It has been slightly tweaked from previous versions.
With temperatures possibly hitting 90 today, for the first time this year, we’re reminded that, while we’ve spent the last several months longing for warmer weather, we need to show it the proper respect now that it’s here. Today we share some thoughts about heat exhaustion: how to recognize it at the onset, how to treat it, and, most importantly, how to prevent it.