Hey guys! Sorry, I know I took a few days off – totally unplanned by the way. You know how life can be; it often gets in the way of the best of plans. Included in that “life” category was a much needed weekend trip to see my best friend in California and a very icky stomach bug upon my return to Arizona. I think it means I should’ve stayed in Cali (smile). Anyway, I’m on the up side and now back just in time for Travel Tuesday!!
This week’s jaunt around the world is themed “Travel Tips” – fun and useful all in one (smile)! In an effort to be a little different from the standard travel tips, I thought I’d give you my top tips for hiking around the desert. Outdoor opportunities are one of the best parts of living in Arizona, but it pays to be smart about it. Here are my top 7 tips for surviving the desert (wherever you may be):
1. Water, water, water, and more water. There’s a reason it’s called a “dry heat.” You don’t really sweat, so you dehydrate without realizing just how much fluid you’ve lost. Finding water in the desert is also difficult, especially if you don’t know where to look. Bring along a large bottle of water or, better yet, a camelback if you have one. Bottom line, take twice as much as you think you could possibly want. It’s a pain to carry bottles, but there are all sorts of cool ways to carry them these days. If I take a water bottle, I usually carry one with a built-in filter so if I run out of water and happen near fresh water, the likelihood of my death by fungus is significantly depleted (smile).
2. Dress appropriately. This is also known as layers, layers, layers. The difficult thing about the desert is that although it can get hot during the daytime, it can also get cold at night. It’s better to wear layers so you can add or subtract clothing as needed. Also, although it’s contradictory to what you might think, it’s generally recommended to wear long sleeves and pants. This will help against sunburn and help you regulate your body temperature.
3. Don’t touch. No matter how pretty or how ugly, don’t touch it! This goes along with not poking sticks down holes. The thing about the desert is that often things in the desert bite, sting, or otherwise just hurt. Even the pretty flowers tend to have thorns and rocks can hide all sorts of fun critters. Speaking of, the same don’t touch rule also applies to any animals you may be able to get close to – trust me when I say it’s just not worth it!
4. Always take a map. On short hikes a cell phone GPS is fine; but on longer hikes you always want a paper stand-by. The great thing about paper maps is that they don’t need batteries or a satellite connection. As a side note, trail maps or maps of your specific area are better than just a general state map. If you have a topographic map of the area, even better (those show you the surrounding features. A little research into the surrounding landscape, even if just on a trail map, can be a real lifesaver.
5. Beware of washes. Washes look like dry river beds. Not all deserts have them, but beware those that do. Washes make great hiking trails, usually. If you get caught in a random rain storm, however, they can become a real nightmare. When it rains, the ground can’t absorb the water quickly enough so the extra water filters into the wash, usually at rapid speeds. So, for example, if you took a wash trail into a canyon and got caught in a rainstorm, don’t try to take the same path out. Either stay put (see #6) or try another route – after the rain stops. Ironically it is possible to drown in the desert.
6. Stay put. Should you get completely lost, just stay put. If there’s a shady spot nearby, that’s preferable. Just make sure you don’t wander too far from the trail and check for creatures.
7. Tell someone where you’re going. While it’s all fun to show people photos of your hikes afterwards, make sure you’ve told someone not with you where you’ll be going and when you expect to return. If you don’t return in your allotted time, then you have someone to head up the search team and find you if you’re following #6 (smile).
There are plenty of more tips and tricks for desert hiking, but these are my essentials. Do you have any travel tips? Head over & link up!!