Hiking in the desert can be an exciting experience if well planned. Desert hiking gives you an opportunity to see an unparalleled variety of exotic plants and animals while enjoying spectacular scenery that you won’t see anywhere else. Obviously, when hiking in such a hot, dry environment, there are a variety of safety issues to take into consideration to make your hike as pleasant and safe as possible. Here are some safety precautions to consider before hiking in the desert:
Take more water than you think you’ll need.
Hiking in the desert can be deceiving. With the dry heat, your sweat evaporates quite rapidly and you may feel relatively comfortable despite the fact you’re rapidly losing water through sweating. For this reason, dehydration can become a problem before you even realize it. However much water you think you’re going to need, take more. Keep in mind that you can lose over a quart of water in a single hour when you’re hiking in such a hot, dry environment. Obviously, you’re going to want to take several quarts with you at the very least. It’ll also be important to be aware of how much water you have relative to the distance you’ll be hiking. Your first priority is not to run out of water in the desert.
Dress for the sun and heat.
After ensuring that you have an adequate water supply, you want to be sure your face and body are protected from the direct sunlight that beats down on you as you journey through the desert. A sunblock with as high of an SPF as possible that protects against both UVA and UVB rays is mandatory for areas exposed to sunlight. Dress in light colored, loose, cotton clothing that covers your arms and legs. This will provide extra protection against the sun while allowing your skin to breathe and release heat. Having your arms and legs covered will also protect your skin from potential insect bites. You may also want to consider wearing a wide brimmed straw hat and U.V. protective sunglasses.
Other safety measures
When hiking in the desert, try to avoid times when the sun is directly overhead. Go early in the morning or in the late afternoon. If you’re a newcomer to desert hiking, start out with short trips and be sure to take along a companion. Before your start out on your journey, tell a trusted person exactly where you’re going and what time you should be home. If you don’t return home by a certain time, have them call for assistance. Common sense measures like this could save your life.
Hiking in the desert can be educational and a source of relaxation if you take proper precautions. Be safe and enjoy your hike!