Desert Hiking - Are You Prepared by anamaulida


									I thought we were ready for desert hiking when my wife and I moved to
Arizona from Michigan. We liked the climate, and were amazed how our skin
was dry and comfortable when it was 105 degrees (41 Celsius) outside.
However, we noticed that people carried water bottles just to take the
bus to work or to go shopping. We also noticed that soon we were drinking
much more water than ever before. We needed to - especially if we were
going hiking.

  A desert isn't defined by heat. It is dryness that defines a desert.
Heat is certainly an issue when you are hiking in the desert, but getting
enough fluids is the larger problem.       Your first time hiking in the
desert, you'll be surprised at how much water you need. You won't really
feel like you are sweating that much, because in the dry desert air your
perspiration can evaporate as fast as it comes out of your pores. This
makes it very comfortable compared to the "sticky" heat of more humid
areas, but it also hides your body's water loss.       It is easy to
become dehydrated very quickly without realizing it is happening. Rule
number one for desert hiking, then, is to carry much more water than you
think you'll need. Drink your fill before starting as well. You may even
want to wet your shirt before starting out, so the evaporation will cool
you and reduce your sweating (and so reduce your water requirements).
On longer hikes, and especially on multi-day backpacking trips, be sure
you know where you'll be refilling your water bottles. Have enough water
carrying capacity for the longest dry stretch you'll be traversing. When
in doubt, carry too much.      Desert Hiking Routines       A quote from
the U.S. Army Survival Guide: "The body requires a certain amount of
water for a certain level of activity at a certain temperature. For
example, a person performing hard work in the sun at 43 degrees C
requires 19 liters of water daily. Lack of the required amount of water
causes a rapid decline in an individual's ability to make decisions and
to perform tasks efficiently."      In other words, if you have a limited
water supply, you should limit your activities during the hottest time of
the day. Get started hiking early, perhaps just before sunrise. That way
you can get in some miles before the heat comes. Hiking in the evening
may work as well. If there is a full moon, you might even try hiking from
four in the morning until the heat starts.       Unlimited water? You
still need to be careful. Your body cools itself by sweating, and it can
only process so much water per hour. When it is hot enough and you are
active, you can reach a point where you are perspiring faster than you
can process the incoming fluids. In other words, a belly full of water
won't help if it is being absorbed slower than it is used. Stop sweating
during hot weather and high activity, and you'll quickly develop heat
stroke, which requires immediate medical attention.       By the way, in
that last case, if your water is truly unlimited (as when you are hiking
along a desert river), you can wet your clothes to cool off, so you won't
need to sweat as much. Watch for any little tricks like this that make
your time in the desert not only more comfortable, but safer. There are
beautiful deserts to go hiking in, and no reason to avoid them entirely.
Just pick cooler times, and follow some of these basic guidelines.
Copyright Steve Gillman. To get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking Secrets
(And Wilderness Survival Tips)" for FREE, as well as photos, gear
recommendations, and a new wilderness survival section, visit: The
Ultralight Backpacking Site:
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