Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Too hot to hike?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 13:34:02 MDT Print View

I haven't hiked in extreme hot temperature in a long time.

Having read about the deaths of two hikers outside Palm Spring last week in 110F+ degree temperature, and this article where a hiking group organizer says he'd never take people hiking in temps above 90, I wonder when BPL'ers consider it 'too hot to hike.'

I have a trip planned to Trinity Alps this weekend where temperatures at the 3600' TH are predicted to hit 95 degrees on my day of departure and 100 when I return, with a 2300' elevation gain to 5900' where the temps will be in the mid 80s.

I'll be hiking the Canyon Creek trail and staying below Canyon Creek lakes the 1st night and at Boulder Lake the 2nd. I have a 2L platy and another 28oz generic water bottle. It should never be more than 2 miles between water refills if I'm reading the trail description correct.

My skin-out weight with a full water load will be about 26lbs.

One thing I'm considering is bringing my TT Rainbow instead of the Golite Poncho/tarp and mosquito net combo because the TT would provide better shade/mosquito protection, but would have 1.5 lbs to my baseweight.

Anything else I should take into consideration for this trip?

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 14:09:33 MDT Print View

Hi James,

It's a good question, not easily answered. I wouldn't be too alarmed at those temps myself, but where do you live and what conditions are you acclimated to? I live in the Valley, so have already endured a LOT of 100-degree days this summer (although my weekdays are mostly passed in air-conditioned grandeur) and can hike in the heat. I don't LIKE it but I can get away with it. If you live in Modesto, don't give it another thought. If you live in Pacifica....

I don't know the trail you're taking, whether it's wooded or open and what the sun exposure might be. You might avoid major climbs if they're quite exposed. Certainly, climbing early when it's cooler is best.

I did a three-day in the Tahoe Sierra last weekend and it was darn hot for the elevation (90+ in the afternoons) but there was plenty of water available on the trail and I actually carried more than I needed. I sweated like mad, but was able to stay hydrated and had no problems. I don't like sports drinks on the trail but have some in camp to recharge and fend off cramps (not completely on this trip, as it turned out).

In camp, the mosquitoes were as bad as I've ever encountered--absolutely horrible--so I had to stay fully covered instead of in the tshirt and shorts the weather warranted (even at midnight). Thankfully, I had an enclosed shelter, which I'll recommend you take as well (not that I know anything about Alps conditions at present, but it's still spring at high altitudes in a lot of California due to the wet June).

In short: stay well hydrated, try to avoid big climbs in full sun, wear a sunhat and loose wicking clothing, and monitor how you're feeling. Tired? Take a break in the shade until you bounce back. And have a great trip!



Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 14:30:36 MDT Print View

Rick, thanks for the advice.

I was actually in Desolation Wilderness last weekend - Echo Lakes TH to Lake Aloha. Was it actually in the 90s? I knew it was hot, I didn't realize it was that hot. That makes me feel better. I hiked between 10:30am and 1:30pm and that trail is pretty exposed for a large portion.

(The mosquitos were horrible there as well. I was warned on the way in by a ranger. At night they hovered, but deet+ permethrin treated clothes seemed to do the job. Not so in the morning. I awoke to a swarm buzzing around the head net of my bivy sack and couldn't fall back asleep. Packing up my gear, I must've looked like Elaine doing her herky-jerky dance on Seinfeld trying to keep the buggers off me)

I did a dayhike up Yosemite Falls in June when the Valley floor temps were predicted in the 90s.

I hiked the Grand Canyon in June 8 years ago, so I have a familiarity with hot/dry hiking theories, so I read up and watched the video they sent, it's just been so long.

I grew up in Chicago and it's suburbs, so I used to be acclimated to 90+ degrees plus high humidity; but after 4 years in San Francisco, going back to Chicago in July feels insufferable.

I don't have a full sun hat. Is a ball cap combined with, say a hankerchief to cover my neck okay?

I did a bad job on my hike in last weekend of staying hydrated. First time I peed it was sunflower yellow. That was a reality check and I fixed the issue.

I have this wierd thing. I hate plain water. I just don't like it. Hot water is even worse.

You say you use energy drinks. I want to, but I worry about bears. I assume powerade has a scent, and a full platy isn't going to fit in me bear cannister. Is that a problem?

I'd rather carry too much water in this situation than too little.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 15:34:50 MDT Print View

Hi James,

SF? Well, what you give up in acclimatization you make up for in hill work :-)

I hiked not far from where you were, partly on the PCT north of I-80. It got over 90 where open slopes faced south, and there wasn't much wind until dusk, another reason the bugs were so frisky. I don't know that I performed the Elaine dance, but I did try to burn them out of the sky with colorful language.

A cap+bandana should work fine, I've done that myself. I find I prefer a wide, full brim to the Gunga Din approach, mostly because that seems to muffle sound and block the breeze. I use some model sunhat from OR, but either does the job.

I've never heard of bears going after energy drinks but I suppose there's no reason they wouldn't if they were going after your food anyway. Carrying mixed drink on the trail isn't be an issue because they go after unattended food, so you can tote as much as you think you'll need. You'll probably want to stow it in the canister overnight, so only mix as much as will fit. Are you headed to a canister mandate area, or the canister just a precaution?

Famous last words, but I've never had bear problems hiking west of Tahoe so I don't take a canister there. (In the basin they're a known problem, but this year there's plenty of natural bear food so incidents are down.) I don't know what's standard for the Alps.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 16:39:47 MDT Print View

"I have this wierd thing. I hate plain water. I just don't like it. Hot water is even worse."

Another possibility is to use Morton's Lite salt in your water. It contains sodium and potassium salts instead of just NaCl. You could cut it with Emergen-C, Crystal Lite, etc to mask the taste and maybe pop a cal-mag tab 3 times a day. I carry one bottle with just the lite salt and another bottle with a sports drink, and alternate sips from them throughout the day. As Rick suggested, be sure to stash your sports drink powder in your canister, and your sports drink bottle if you possibly can. If not, maybe bring along an O.P. Alok-Sak to stash the bottle in. You should be able to handle up in the low 90's if you take it slow, stay hydrated and "electrolyted", and take regular rest breaks, assuming you're healthy and reasonably fit. Take it easy and have a great trip.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 17:03:09 MDT Print View

I'm thinking about getting a 34oz platypus that I will mix the drink in. At the end of the night, if I plan it fight, it will be empty and can roll up empty and fit in my cannister. I'd use the 2L Platy as my reservoir. I do now recall from the Grand Canyon instructions that salt/electrolytes are an issue in hot weather too.

Trinity Alps don't require a cannister. I'm going to bring my Ursack, which is plenty big enough to hold even full platypus.

However, on my trip to Yosemite in 2.5 weeks, a cannister will be required, but hopefully it won't be so hot.

Water is only really an issue on the trail for me. At camp, I just refresh it right from a cold lake or stream. It's the hiking for and hour or two in the sun when it gets to be warmer than bathwater that it really bugs me.

I'm really debating between the fully sealed up TT Rainbow and the poncho/tarp + mosquito net combo. The mosquito net is some generic EMS or other make, should be plenty of space staked out with rocks, just no floor. The Rainbow would be easier but would push my packweight with all that water up to around 22lbs.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Too hot to hike? on 07/22/2009 18:27:35 MDT Print View

The best "fabric" so far that I have tried out in hot weather is Tyvek (TT Sublite). Under that I had the same temperature as in total shade. At the same time under a single wall silnylon it was slightly warmer than outside...(both in full sun)
I have hiked in 100-105f temps, hard if after a sudden temp increase, much easier after a few days of continuous hot weather (for me...)
Nice and hot and no tourists...
No tourists
Just remembered..
I have rested inside the Lighthouse (Epic) on several hot afternoons (refuge from bugs) , that was also pretty good. Not that useful to you , but maybe to some...

Edited by Franco on 07/22/2009 18:39:26 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
I so hate heat on 07/22/2009 23:23:13 MDT Print View

I plain wilt in heat. And for me that is anything above say 87* or so. But? I have learned hike early as the sun is barely rising then take a mid day break if I can, then hike later.
Once the heat of the day is done...say 5 pm and on, I suddenly get all my energy back. Works great to keep going then!

Aaron Zuniga
(gliden2) - F

Locale: Northwest
Re:Too hot to hike on 07/23/2009 09:48:57 MDT Print View

Stay hydrated. Since water doesn't sound like it's gonna be a problem, try to tank up at your stops so you can carry slighty less water while hiking=) Have you tried Nuun? Nice single dosages of electrolyte goodness, great flavors(I like the lemon lime), no fuss with powders. They are slighty high in sodium, which you will most likely need to replenish anyways. I also like to soak my headware when i can; when a breeze comes it feels refreshingly GOOD!

Keep yourself protected. The hat+hanky will cover your most the face region. Sunscreen those other parts that are exposed to the elemnts, like your nose and ears(maybe). Like others have said and im sure you know, but try to climb passes when cooler temps prevail, and take breaks when the heat is peaking. Trails are usually the quietest early in the morning and later in the evening...Great time to hike. During the warmer hours of the day I like to slightly slow my pace, and take more frequent breaks to snack, rehydrate, swin, etc. In the warmer months I also like to hike in a thin liner sock(REI Merino Wool) They dry incredibly fast, are lighter, and are much cooler than a pair of Smartwool Adreneline socks i usually wear. With that being said, my feet stay drier and much happier, Longer=)

As far as the shelter selection goes, im thinking the Rainbow will be a better selection for this trip. It will offer better bug protection, and it's quick setup+freestanding option will be a blessing after a hot day on the trail. Maybe pack the Rainbow somewhere you can grab it quick for setup; that way if the heat/sun has you looking for retreat, you don't have to rumage through your pack. Have a Great trip! Report back to us and let us know what your gear selections were, and how they worked for ya.


Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Long sleeve shirt vs sunblock on 07/23/2009 12:06:35 MDT Print View

What are the pros and cons of a long sleeve Patagonia 2 capilene zip neck vs wearing a shortsleeve Golite and putting sunblock on my arms? I'd rather go short sleeve if I can.

I just remembering I have an old floppy fishermans style hat with brim. Not as good as a OR Helios or Tilley (spent my money other places) but at least its khaki vs my black ballcap

I have hiked in 100-105f temps, hard if after a sudden temp increase, much easier after a few days of continuous hot weather (for me...)
Nice and hot and no tourists...

Here in America, hot temps don't necessarily stop the tourists, they just end up dead or in the hospital like those hikers in Palm Springs. A month ago I dayhiked up Yosemite Falls (~3.5 miles one way, a hair under 3,000' elevation gain) on a day when valley floor temps were predicted in the low 90s and saw numerous people hiking with one 16oz water bottle. I saw one 20-something guy in jeans with no water. I've seen the same thing in the Grand Canyon

I plain wilt in heat. And for me that is anything above say 87* or so.

I wouldn't say I wilt, but over 80 I gets a lot less fun. 70 degrees and partly cloudy is my ideal hiking weather.

In the warmer months I also like to hike in a thin liner sock(REI Merino Wool) They dry incredibly fast, are lighter, and are much cooler than a pair of Smartwool Adreneline socks i usually wear.

Good call on the liner socks. I usually wear the Adrenaline PhD's too, but I have both the Smartwool and REI liner socks and those would be much better, I bet.

I do the headwear soaking thing too. It was one of the lessons in the instructional video the NPS sent with my Grand Canyon permit: in hot weather, drench your clothes whenever the opportunity presents.

Aaron Zuniga
(gliden2) - F

Locale: Northwest
RE:Too hot to hike on 07/23/2009 12:27:49 MDT Print View

As far as the sunscreen vs. the capilene goes, that kinda tough. The Golite SS and sunscreen combo is lighter, but leaves tons of stickyness at the end of the day where it was applied. Then you get in your bag or quilt and spread the funk. At least with the long sleeve you could carry less sun screen, and have a little less of that sticky feeling at the end of the day=). Another + for the long sleeve, IME i sweat more in it which has a cooling affect on my torso. This keeps me much cooler, and also keeps me motivated to hike on. Especially when i get to a pass or somewhere with a breeze, instant cooldown. I guess that is a postive to capilene, it only wicks moisture to the surface of the garmant. It also leaves you smelling like a crowd of Deadheads=)

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: RE:Too hot to hike on 07/23/2009 12:46:49 MDT Print View

That makes sense. What I think I'll do now is wear the 3oz Golite with sunscreen and bring my 3 oz silk baselayer top for sleeping which comes out to slightly less weight than the 7.50z Capilene 2 plus after I rinse the sunscreen off, I get to wear a clean shirt at night for around camp/sleeping.

I wasn't/am not sure if wearing long sleeves is like wearing a hat; i.e. you could wear sunscreen, but thereis a benefit to keeping direct sun off your head, sunscreen or no, that outweighs the negative of even the lightest hat trapping heat.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Too Hot to Hike on 07/23/2009 12:52:36 MDT Print View

I live and hike in Palm Springs, and am familiar with all the areas in the link James posted. There are no water sources in those areas.

Too hot depends on your acclimization. I can hike in these temps, most cannot. Hiking in 115F is not something I try to do. I struggle in cold conditions, others do not. So the first step, can you deal with extreme heat? If you have never hiked/lived in 110F plus, the answer is generally no.

Some tips for extreme heat:

SUL. You only need food, water, and a poncho/tarp. No sleeping bag. No rain gear. No hot food, unless it is a physcological boost. You need up to 2 gallons of water a day.

The article mentioned the Carl Lyken Trail. This is part of the Cactus to Clouds Trail; I posted a trip report of this a couple months ago. That same weekend of my trip, there was a death on the C2C due to heat exhaustion. My base weight was sub 5lb, and I started with 4 liters of water. 4 liters was almost too little the first day, and would have been disaterous for someone not used to the heat. Temps were around 90F, and hiking up was strenuous. Since my night camp was near 10,000 feet I needed to take a quilt.

We have several heat related deaths in the area every year. Many people do hike the C2C trail in the summer, but they start at Midnight - 2am and reach the upper elevations in the early morning. So you do not want to hike in the desert temps during the heat of the day.

Clothes: WIDE brim hat. Long sleeve shirt and pants. Bandanna. Sun glasses. Sun tan lotion with a high rating. Light colors and breatable. Covering your skin will reduce evaporation. Over 105F, I often wear two top layers. T-Shirt and long sleeve shirt. Your inner thighs will be soaked all day. The only time I wear underwear is in these kinds of conditions. I wear an expensive pair of Ex Officio long briefs. Socks: If you have foot problems, you may want to change socks several times a day. Light shoes with open mesh.

Water consumption: drink fequently.

Electrolite loss: Hugh propblem. There is controvery about the value of salt tablets. I find that when the loss starts to affect me, eating a few potato chips or Doritos is a real pick-me up. No scientific evidence to support this.

Do not hike during the heat of the day: This is why you brought the tarp. Rest from Noon - 3 pm, IN THE SHADE. It may not be much cooler in the shade, but being out of the direct sun will help your body exponentially. You probably will not be able to take a long nap in the middle of the day, it is hard to sleep in this kind of heat. I can hike during the heat of the day, but when at 105F or higher, I do not. It takes too much out of your body.

If you are not used to the heat, and do not have a reliabe water source, and are starting out with "enough" water in your pack; have a bail out plan!!

If you need to rely on water sources, check with someone in the area who has been to the sources recently!! A while back Nate posted a question about the state of water sources before a trip. Smart move on his part.

I will be doing a trip in August in the Lake Mead/Colo River area. I will always be within a days hike of reliable water, and have a minimum of 6 liters water at the start of a day, depending on temperature. The risk is that I will be solo. A serious injury preventing me to get to a water source within one day could be lethal.

Make sure someone knows where you are going and EXACTLY when you will be exiting.

Fletcher's Complete Walker has a lot of data about temperature. It is a good read.

Thomas Trebisky

Locale: Southern Arizona
If you live in Tucson, Arizona on 07/23/2009 12:52:48 MDT Print View

Too hot to hike is a function of how prepared you are and how acclimatized you are. Preparation involves liquid; the famous 1 gallon per person per day rule certainly applies in spades when temperatures go over 100 degrees and you are involved in any kind of exertion.

I was on a 10 mile hike this past Saturday. Started at 2700 feet or so (elevation makes all the difference), this hike was going past Saguaros and other typical Sonoran desert lowland plants. Climbed to about 5000 feet with some strenuous sections. Temperatures were 105 degrees or so. We started hiking at 9:30 in the morning, so we were able to avoid all the cool morning temperatures. We were on the most strenuous sections around noon. You would want to be smart and do all this differently. We had hoped the usual monsoon storms would brew up and give us cloud cover by noon (like they had been doing all week), but they didn't.

It was brutal, that is all I can say. One in our party of four came close to his limit in heat endurance. You really need to know how to tune into your body and throttle back in the heat on the uphills. A good hat is a big plus and intelligent choice of clothes for sun protection as well as sunscreen on exposed areas. I wore a full brim hat, you want something that resembles an umbrella on your head, not a ball-cap or visor. I also wore a long sleeve white shirt (a patagonia "airus" zip sun shirt) - something thinner than silkweight but still offering sun protection. You should pick clothes for protection and function and override your normal tastes and preferences.

If someone else had told me they were planning this hike, I would have advised them to find a place at higher elevations this time of year, or just forget it.

I carried 4 liters of fluid, 3 were gator aid, one was water. You don't drink because it is cool or tasty, you drink because you must to stay alive, hot water or otherwise. All were consumed and I had just enough.

Sometimes I read running magazines, and every now and then I come across a section on "running in the heat" and realize after a bit they are talking about 75 degree temperatures and just laugh. But then there were people this month who were running the Badwater ultramarathon.

Edited by trebisky on 07/23/2009 13:12:40 MDT.

Thomas Trebisky

Locale: Southern Arizona
RE: Too hot to hike? on 07/23/2009 15:08:48 MDT Print View

Nicks comments are right on the money (and the hat he is wearing is just the kind of thing I wear and recommend).

As many have noted, it is not just water replacement, but electrolyte replacement. I was drinking gatoraide and eating a big bag of salted pretzels, but there are no doubt better ways to replenish electrolyte. Just water is bad. Gatoraid, as I carried is certainly better, but I bet there are better options yet, and for a long trip you would want a powder or something to work along with using water sources. The bottom line is that I felt pretty good the evening of my hike and the next day, so I hadn't wildly dehyrated myself. I gallon per day is a minimum though.

I personally prefer to minimize the square inches of skin I slather with sunscreen, so I view clothing as my first line of protection, then add sunscreen as needed to cover key areas like the back of my neck, back of ears and hands, and so on. Long sleeve shirts are your friends. Back when I was doing geology and low on cash, I would buy long sleeve dress shirts at thrift stores (skip the ties) and wear them in the field. Cheap as dirt. Usually cotton (they haven't started doing dress shirts in high-tech wicking fabrics yet, ha!) Cover that skin!

Full moon hikes in the desert are a fine idea during the really hot months (but watch for snakes!!).

Edited by trebisky on 07/23/2009 15:10:50 MDT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: RE: Too hot to hike? on 07/23/2009 15:20:50 MDT Print View

I hiked in the Grand Canyon 8 years ago, and the NPS sent a instructional video along with our permit. They really emphasized electrolyte replacement. Until then, I assumed 'electrolytes' were something Gatorade semi-invented to sell flavored water beverages.

My thing here is, I hike in bear country. Gatorade, powerade, etc, have scents, and every scented thing is supposed to go into a bear cannister. However, a full bladder wont' fit. I could dump the leftover, refill it with cold water, but in my experience, without bleach it at home, the bladder retains a bit of scent. I don't want to leave it empty and have no water for when I wake up in the morning. I may be being overly paranoid about bears, but the idea of them freaks me out.

Is there electrolyte replacing gels out there?

Thomas Trebisky

Locale: Southern Arizona
Electrolytes on 07/23/2009 15:36:42 MDT Print View

Hammer Nutrition has a product they call "Endurolytes" that look to be gel-caps with a proper salt balance inside. I have never used these, but have been on the verge of ordering some to try out. I do use some of their other products.
I cannot imagine they would add any flavor or scent.
120 capsules $19.95 or you can buy a container of powder with a scoop and get a little more for your money.

I plan to be hiking up Taboose Creek in the Sierra in a few weeks, and don't have an elaborate electrolyte plan. Lots of water along the way, start at 5500 feet and climb to 11500.
Pretzels might do it for me once again. A zip lock bag of those. I plan to have food in an Ursack. Not a canister mandatory area.

Thomas Trebisky

Locale: Southern Arizona
The Valley on 07/23/2009 15:43:41 MDT Print View

Rick Dreher wrote:

"I live in the Valley"

Around these parts, that usually means you are saying you are from the Phoenix area (the expression befuddled me the first time I heard skiers in northern Arizona saying this). But on further reading and contemplation, I think Rick might live near Sacramento (or maybe he lives in Yosemite Valley!).

Owens Valley has had temperatures in the 100's recently though, so maybe he lives in Lone Pine. Death Valley is possible, but I think unlikely.

Edited by trebisky on 07/23/2009 15:52:15 MDT.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
RE: Too hot to hike? on 07/23/2009 16:31:41 MDT Print View

currently, there are possibly 4 early-20's NAU students past their due on the Bill Hall/Thunder River trails system. Although there are perrenial creeks in that area, the temps at the River are reaching 110° (add 20° in direct sun)
no word of thier whereabouts as of this afternoon..

another heat related death happend just ealier this week in the nation's largest city park, South Mountain Park in south Phoenix. A 14 yo boy from Alaska met his doom after wandering off trail and going unconcious. temps that day were 108°

personally, "too hot to hike" is about 90... that is when i leave the Valley and climb into the AZ mountains, and try to stay above 9K

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 07/23/2009 16:40:54 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
On tater chips on 07/23/2009 16:40:50 MDT Print View

Why do they work to perk one up fast? Easy! They contain high potassium and a small amount of sodium. Combined it is nearly perfect. And they taste good. And they don't have any weird off taste of funky Vitamin B!

In all seriousness, if you watch your food intake with your water intake, except in severe situations (say dehydration or diarrhea from a bug and or extreme hikes in the dessert) you will do just fine without chugging expensive drink mixes. You just have to think out your food and munch a bit when you drink water.