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Hot weather hiking needs a smart approach to keep yourself out of heat related illness scenarios.
This page will help you do just that, with tips on how to use your head and your behavior to keep yourself safe.
However, this is not medical advice. It's up to you to know your own limitations, and take precautions during hot weather hiking.
It is understandable that you feel invincible when you're a twenty something athlete, or a hiker who has never faced hot weather hiking conditions.
Sitting in the cool, hydrated comfort of daily life, you may not anticipate some of the trail issues you will face when hiking through heat, humidity, and relentless sunlight.
So I'm here to deliver the news that regardless of who you are, you need a personal plan to avoid heat related illnesses.
Let's begin with awareness of what you're up against when you choose to hike in hot conditions.
Your body has specific feedback mechanisms to tell you when your internal temperature has reached a dangerously high level.
Ready for a quick tour of how your body speaks to you when you're enjoying some hot weather hiking?
This information on heat safety can prevent a lot of suffering on the trail, but only if you plan ahead, and take action when needed.
When you sweat, you dump excess heat from your body through the openings to the outside of your skin: sweat glands.
And you should be sweating a lot as you hike on a hot day!
To head off trouble, pay attention to what your skin has to say about all of that sweating.
Sometimes your sweat glands become blocked, causing what is known as prickly heat, or just plain old heat rash (miliaria).
This bumpy, unpleasant outbreak occurs on areas where your clothing has prevented your sweat glands from working properly, and/or on sun exposed skin where dust and sunscreen accumulates.
For a hiker, that's pretty much everywhere, isn't it!
Use anti-itch preparations you are carrying in your hygiene kit, such as calamine or sunburn lotions.
But go easy on them. You don't want to block the sweat glands further.
If you experience frequent bouts of heat rash, you need moisture wicking clothing for the trail (see below).
Doesn't that sound weird on a hot hiking trail?
It is! Don't ignore it.
Here's what's happening to your body:
This loss is setting you up for exercise-associated heat exhaustion, a vivid description of what your body feels like in this scenario: weak and wiped out.
Here is a fact you cannot ignore if you choose to hike in hot weather conditions:
Heat exhaustion can progress
into heat stroke
if you ignore it.
There is very little you can do on the trail for someone in this condition, so it is important to spot heat exhaustion immediately, and turn it around while you can.
Your brain works with exquisite timing and control to communicate with your hard working hiking muscles.
It also keeps you alert and aware of trail conditions.
Tune in to subtle changes in these two communication pathways when the day is hot and the hike is long:
If you're suffering these symptoms, stop moving and assess your condition.
Rely upon a trail buddy for unbiased feedback.
If you're alone, you can summon help if your condition is beginning to deteriorate to the point where you feel incoherent or confused.
Your fingers and ankles might swell up during and after a hike, and this may be more pronounced during hot weather hikes.
These tips will help you sort out when peripheral edema (fancy name for swollen extremities) is normal, and when it's time for medical assessment:
If you live in a hot climate, you don't need to put together a personal plan because you've already had a lot of trial and error trail time.
If you're planning to hike in a hot place and you're unfamiliar with high temperatures, heed these cautions.
Of course it can!
It just takes the 3 ingredients mentioned at the beginning:
Your goal: keeping heat related illness a theory, not an experience, with these hot weather hiking tips!
Hot Weather Hiking Personal Plan
To Avoid Heat Related Illness On The Trail
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