Summer Hiking Guide...
So You Think You're Tough...
It's not just the inexperienced hiker that is vulnerable to the summer hazards of the Grand Canyon. Heat exhaustion in the canyon is a daily occurance in the summer. And every day, experienced and conditioned hikers are taken from the canyon and hospitalized. One of the most common victims are young men in their twenties. Just because you are young, healty and strong does not make you immune from the consequences of exposure to extreme heat. Your best defense is to use your head, not your brawn.
Plan your trip in advance. Do not hike in the hottest part of the day. Know the symptoms of heat-related illness and what to do about it. Better yet, know what to do to avoid getting into trouble.
Don't Just Drink ... Drink and Eat Frequently
Did you know that for each hour that you hike in the heat, you lose 1/2 to 1 quart of water and electrolytes through sweat? This can increase to 2 quarts per hour if you hike uphill in the direct sunlight in extreme heat. The dry air in the Grand Canyon evaporates the sweat almost as soon as it appears, so you may not even realize that this is happening to you.
Drink frequently, even if you are not thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration, so you don't want to wait until you have a problem before you start doing something about it. Also, don't just drink plain water. We recommend sports drinks that will replenish the electrolytes you lose through sweating.
The key to remaining hydrated and balanced chemically is to drink small amounts almost continuously and eat often. To make this convenient, carry a water bottle of electrolyte drink in your hand, wear it at your side, or wear a hydration system and keep the drinking spout handy. Stop often and eat a salty snack or energy bar to keep up your stamina.
The Shade is Your Friend
Eating and drinking frequently is not enough to avoid problems from extreme heat. Avoid hiking in direct sunlight. Plan ahead so you are not hiking during the hottest part of the day (mid morning to about 4:00 p.m.). This is especially important if you are hiking uphill, where much of the energy you need for the uphill climb will be consumed just trying to stay cool. And you will lose more water and electrolytes hiking in uphill in direct sun. Find shady places to take breaks and rest.
To avoid the heat of midday, start you hike before dawn and finish up in late afternoon. It's a good idea to always carry a flashlight so you can continue your hike if darkness catches you.
Soak Down to Stay Cool
One of the most refreshing things you can do is to douse yourself thoroughly with water, when it is available. If you are carrying extra water, occassionally pour some over the top of you heat (as long as you don't need it for driniking later).
Do not swim or wade into deep water in the Colorado River!
Additional reference: see Hiking Tips.
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