Hiking in the Heat

It’s a nice long holiday weekend here in the States and it’s giving us the first real weekend to get out and explore the trails. But the Summer sauna is cranking up this weekend as well. Thermometer watchers at the National Climate Data Center said it stayed in the mid-70’s all last week across the South, with the rest of the country warming as well.


So what’s the best plan for a hiker in the heat? Is it enough to simply drink enough water? We dove into the newest Arizona hiking book by Rob Rachowieki titled Five-Star Trails: Tucson (where temps avg.  90-100 degrees until September) to find some answers. His book was helpful as his tips  have the “familiar ring of Mom’s voice” helping make them easy to remember and practice:

  1. Bring as much water as you think you’ll need, and then bring more. Bring more water than you’ll need.
  2. Be on the lookout for the signs of heat exhaustion and hyperthermia (which is the opposite of hypothermia). If you’re running hot and a little dry, lightheadness and loss of energy will be the first signs things are headed down the wrong path. Find some shade, drink water and stay put until you cool off.
  3. Know the signs of impending heatstroke. Basically, if the above happens AND you should be sweating, but are not, then stop. Your hike is over. Do not try and hike through at this point. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition and is not something one should soldier through. You need to cool off fast. If you find yourself at this stage make sure you get some medical attention once you get off the trail to get your body back in balance.

Hiking in the heat is certainly manageable, if you are conditioned and most importantly, plan ahead. Planning and thinking through things can save you tons of headaches and pain in the future. It sounds like common sense, but it needs to be said. This image below is of Hutch’s Pool in Sabino Canyon in Tucson. It’s always smart to plan ahead and  know where the water sources will be along your trip. This is doubly so when hiking in the heat.

Hutchs Pool in Sabino Canyon

As an aside, Rob will be signing copies of his book at the Barnes & Noble store in Tucson on May 31st at 2:00 pm, if you’re in the area and would like to meet the hiker behind the book.

Travis Bryant
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