With the recent heatstroke deaths of a French mother and father and the fortunate rescue of their young son at New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument, the PD staff wanted to, much in the same vein as our piece on surviving floods, layout some tips for walking during the worst of Summer’s sun.
Say no to cotton.
Cotton is a heavy fabric, just like wool, so if you’re not a fan of melting into a pool of sweat the first 20 yards opt for Dri-Fit/Polypro fabrics.
Say no to black.
Hey, dark colors are slimming, but unless you want to go ahead and pick out what you’ll be wearing in your casket, stick to sunshine friendly whites or ultra-clever neons, in case you take a tumble or get lost.
Have a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and the right shoes for your terrain. As cute as your designer kicks might be, in the desert you’ll want something that maximizes airflow and keeps out grains of sand.
Do not have on jewelry. Metal necklaces and wedding rings are recipes for burns and finger amputation.
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
No, this isn’t in order to call for help or update your Facebook status to Frying, as most likely you’ll have no reception. Instead use your phone to take a picture of your group and the map.
What ended up saving the little boy at the White Sands National Monument were cell phone pictures of the three of them taken at the start of their hike, which alerted Park Rangers that came upon the mother’s body to look for the two others.
Most trail heads have a map with different routes and landmarks, take a picture of this for reference back to if you get turned around. Have your own paper map? Great, take a cell phone snap of that too, that way you have a backup in case of an ill-timed freak breeze.
Know how far you are going.
Sure, the trail says 2.5 miles, but if you’re a metric person that could mean very little to you, or alternatively, say you are a wiz with both standard and metric when it comes to Mr. Paulson’s math class. Good for you, but does your body know the distance? If you have trouble hoofing it the 200 meters to the mailbox, keep that in mind when you sign on for 2,000 meters in the blazing sun.
Combat your normalcy bias.
Normalcy bias is a real killer. Rarely do we even consider that a walk or hike will actually kill us, but it can, and people do die from even short treks. Also, you might think you’re a badass, and as your vision starts to blur and the sun beats down on you, there could be a huge potential for you to just tell yourself to stop being a whiny little bitch.
DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT VOICE!
You will feel hardcore for all of 10 minutes, and then you’ll be dead. If the temperature is 90F or above do not push yourself, go the other way and coddle yourself. If you want to think about something then focus on what the headline will be when you push yourself.
“Women Dies On 3K Trek to Boring Sand Dune.”
Do not die for a sand dune.
Tell someone you’re going.
Love a solo hike? That’s beautiful, we’re all about privacy and doing our own thing, but just tell someone before you leave. Tell them where you are going, how long you should be, and when they should worry if you haven’t contacted them after. Hey, the person doesn’t have to even be in the same country as you, just give them a head’s up, and get a confirmation from them that, yes, they know you are going and will expect to hear from you at x time.
The key to this bit of advice is the confirmation, since if you only send an email to your friend, but it’s the Shabbat, or they’ve decided to give the Amish life a go and they won’t be checking up on their social media until Kingdom come, it won’t do you any good while you’re curled up by a trail path waiting for rescue.
Ever had a bad case of dry mouth while at the office? Well, try that in the desert and see what a blast that is. If you are going out into the sun, the most important thing can be just having enough water. Most trails will tell you how much is needed for the average person; make sure you have that plus a liter or two in case of a fall, slower pace, or you’ve been munching on pretzels during the car ride there.
Also don’t just carry the water around, actually drink it. Seriously, there have been many cases where the hiker just keels over with a full bottle of water. Drink it! Even if you do not feel particularly thirsty make sure you take a swig every x amount of steps. (The x there is up to you, but don’t let the value of x be ≥ 100.)
Pro Pre-Trail Tip: OD on deodorant.
No, not so you’ll smell like an Irish Breeze as you boil, but take that deodorant and rub it anywhere you think you might chafe. That bit of lubrication will go a long way to keeping your thighs from turning into sizzling ham-hocks while keeping your skin cool.
What say you, PDers? Anything we missed? Leave it down in the comments.