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Learnt an very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts
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Yes 1000
Learnt a very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts on 11/18/2012 19:14:48 MST Print View

The story is:

Went on a hike called Elk Mountain - King Mountain loop on the Oregon coast yesterday. The weather was shitty as usual with rain and in mid 40 F. This hike is known to be very challenging and I was prepared.

I was wearing, Pata Cap 1 silk weight, Pata R1 Hoody, Pata Torrent shell rain jacket for tops and REI mid weight Polartec bottoms and Pata torrent shell pants.

The guy going in the front was hiking really fast and we all managed to keep pace with him. Finally we reach a point where we have to gain ~2000 ft in 1.2 miles and I realized I was sweating way too much and my R1 was soaked. We started the scramble and half way through bam!!!! my entire leg including the toes started cramping. I pushed on and finally while taking a leap on a scree my left calf and gave up. I crashed to the ground in pain and immediately my toes locked up bent and couldnt even get up. Later I pumped a lot of salts and Gu gel but the damaged was done and I didn't get back to the form and finished the 3/4th of the hike with small steps and carefully not injuring myself.

Lessons learnt.

1. Manage your pace.
2. Hydrate and make sure you have enough salts in your body at least 2 days before you go on a difficult hike.
3. Don't drink 2-3 beers the night before the hike.

Edited by mamamia on 11/18/2012 19:44:38 MST.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Learnt an very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts on 11/18/2012 19:18:39 MST Print View

4. R1 is probably too big to hike in.


Yes 1000
R1 really? on 11/18/2012 19:37:18 MST Print View

I thought R1 was made for wet and 40F conditions.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
How far on 11/18/2012 19:41:22 MST Print View

Did you go before this happened?

Edited by gg-man on 11/18/2012 19:42:49 MST.

Yes 1000
Go where? on 11/18/2012 19:44:02 MST Print View

Go where? total trip length was 12-13 miles loop.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Learnt an very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts on 11/18/2012 19:46:44 MST Print View

The onset of cramps may have been from a lack of salt, electrolyte imbalance, etc., all those things that gooey sports drink bottles and sticky gel packages espouse, but don't rule out how much your own physical conditioning, or lack, plays into cramping and muscle fatigue.

Beer before a day of hiking is always ok, post hike is even better. Leave beer out of this. ;-)

Yes 1000
Blame it on Beer... on 11/18/2012 19:51:46 MST Print View


I'm pretty fit and have done similar day hikes with ~5000ft elevation gain. Don't know why I dunked on this trail, once the onset of cramps, I pretty much stopped enjoying the hike and was feeling miserable enough to finish the hike and get back to the car. I'm a very conscious salt consumer ( always make sure my food has less salt) I think with lack of electrolytes and water loss in form of sweat did it to me.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: R1 really? on 11/18/2012 20:27:39 MST Print View

40* hanging out- not doing a hard hike at a good pace. I mean... you were soaked, right?

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re:... a very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts on 11/18/2012 20:33:34 MST Print View

There's been anecdotal accounts written about of wicking base-layers working too well and speeding dehydration, so maybe you were a little too warm and comfortable starting up that hill (=exertion).

Yes 1000
Re: Re: R1 really? on 11/18/2012 20:34:47 MST Print View

Yes soaked completely, never had used R1 on any hikes.

My decision to use R1 and not another synth layer like some Nike shirt or Cap 3 was because, the weather was in 40's and there was some wet snow fall when we reached the summit. I didn't carry any insulating layer and wore R1 from beginning to end.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Re: R1 really? on 11/18/2012 20:40:41 MST Print View

Ya... PNW'll getcha.
I've begun to carry a Thermawrap Pro every time I go out. (at least from the 40*s and below) I probably take too much for most folks but I am cold usually so I just carry more and be comfy.

I bet you coulda bagged the R1 after you warmed up your shell.

Edited by WoodenWizard on 11/18/2012 20:41:47 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
electrolytes on 11/18/2012 20:42:50 MST Print View

I never paid much attention to electrolytes until I started running, now I pay attention :)

in regards to the R1, I've hiked in mine, but temps were 0-20F- I run to the hot side, I know I would overload the R1 at 40 degrees hiking hard

Yes 1000
Time on 11/18/2012 20:49:02 MST Print View


We hardly had any rest stops, except the 10 min lunch break, we were hiking from morning 9AM to 3.30-45PM. I can add another 20-30 delay the team had to tolerate due to my cramps, many thanked me later that they got a chance to slow down since I was already pretty slow.

So either we should start early and manage the pace or don't go on very difficult hikes this one when the day light is short. I have a EB Serrano jacket with 60gms of Primaloft insulation but to be honest I'm sure I wouldn't have had a chance to wear it even for 20 mins.

Like one of the above post, I can understand my physical capacity, while I'm not a super human when I hiked Mt.Defiance ~5000ft elevation gain in peak summer, I did extremely well and managed to help my slow team members.

My question to you is, when your breaks are less than 2-3 minutes when do you get a chance to put on the jacket and remove it later.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Time on 11/18/2012 21:02:50 MST Print View

If I only stop for 2-3 minutes I wouldnt take it out of my pack. I'd just carry it.

I guess I would have worn your base and the R1 and the shell. Then as I got pretty warm I would take off the R1 and bag it. I would have hiked in my base and shell zipping it up or down as needed. (personally I carry a beanie, neck gaiter, sometime light gloves to dial it in)

If I was cold even with the shell zipped up going up hill (knowing that that trail is very up and down) I would have put the R1 back on and dealt with the wetness, knowing that the hike was a dayhike. At least be warm...

If you had been on a easier trail and exerting less, maybe you could have hiked in the base and the shell with it zipped up, or if that is cold, put on the R1 and vent the shell.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
long hike on 11/18/2012 21:06:16 MST Print View

It's just a matter of pace. If you are walking at a faster pace than you are comfortable with then you burn out and cramp. There is a product called sportslegs that I buy on amazon that you take before a long hike and it really does work.
But let em go on ahead and stick to your own pace.

Yes 1000
Hmm on 11/18/2012 21:16:47 MST Print View was an humbling experience for me, I was literally on the ground not able to get up since my toes were crammped and bent while the whole group was looking.

I have never taken any OTC meds after the hike till now (including backpacking trips), but yesterday I broke my cardinal rule and took an Aleve. :-/

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
not your clothes? on 11/18/2012 21:17:17 MST Print View

I actually don't think the problem was your clothes, but the group you hiked with. Sounds like the group etiquette wasn't a good fit for you. There should have been some time for people to shed or shod layers without anyone feeling guilty.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: long hike on 11/18/2012 21:17:50 MST Print View

Your exertion level (pace on a given terrain) vs. your shells ability do deal with your sweat.

Too much work or not breathable enough= wet layers.

Too little work (read: downhill in cold) or too breathable (fleece) = cold

there is a balance in there and its up to you to pay attention to it and get nerdy about venting, shedding/ adding layers, and accessories. ... IF you wanna worry about it that much. ... I guess there's a balance in there as well. :)

Yeah: +1 to the group being dbags. "get up, you sissy!" WTF man!?!

Edited by WoodenWizard on 11/18/2012 21:19:31 MST.

Yes 1000
hmm on 11/18/2012 21:26:53 MST Print View


You make a good point, what I saw on the trail was either the others were super humans or I was the wimp. I'm not a experience hiker and try to follow what I learn from BPL, but most of my team members aren't even aware of BPL, all they do is they just hike. But still they helped me with Gu gel (has never heard about it before) and spare water.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Learnt an very important Lesson on Hydration and on 11/18/2012 21:28:22 MST Print View

+1 on Anthony's comments about pace. Some time's it's just not your day. Maybe you didn't sleep all that well the night before; maybe you're coming down with the flu/cold and haven't realized it yet; maybe you've had an argument with your wife. Etc.

LeBron James has off nights; he doesn't always see it coming and can't always account for it. Recognizing that your body's off and requires a slower pace on any given day is just part of sport.

Gee, if only I could learn to follow my own advice!

I'm not sure that salts and a different base layer are always the answer. But then again, who knows? It's an ongoing science experiment out there.

Yes 1000
Re: Re: long hike on 11/18/2012 21:28:59 MST Print View


I don't know if they were really super human or I was the wimp. But like I said I was humbled by my failure.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Re: long hike on 11/18/2012 21:37:48 MST Print View

I've had a few of those toe curled over, leg lock moments as well, they do suck. We all have humbling moments while out doing what we love, it comes with the territory. I appreciate you sharing your lesson.

It's okay if you blame it on the beer consumption the previous evening, but just this one time.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Learnt an very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts on 11/18/2012 22:25:37 MST Print View

I never knew you could buy baselayers based on temperature and humidity, especially since everyone is different. You just have to find what works for you; now you know what doesn't! And I've had great luck with S-Caps. I have a history of cramps, so I'll take an S-Cap the night before, and maybe a couple during the day. That way I don't have to drink any nasty, too sweet sports drinks.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Learned this lesson on 11/19/2012 05:27:32 MST Print View

I have had this happen but only after a much further distance with many thousand feet of elevation gain. I'm struggling seeing this happen (from electrolytes) after only 12 miles. If you plan to push yourself like this check out the recipe I have in the prehike section of my pct journal. There is a recipe for both an electrolyte mix which you can put in capsules or a drink mix and also my magical Malto mix which is just maltodextrin an electrolyte mix. (Gue is the same components). search trail name Malto.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Hydration and Salts" on 11/19/2012 08:05:58 MST Print View

This is an interesting discussion and raises several questions I hope someone more knowledgeable about physiology like maybe participants in activities like marathons or triathlons or the medically trained might be able to answer.

1. Doesn't "work" occur on a fairly regular plot or arc or whatever is the correct term; like the consumption of gasoline by an internal combustion engine. I.E. a car in first gear turning over at 6800 RPM is going to burn gas a lot faster than a car in 5th gear at 2300 rpm?

2. So are salts metabolized or stripped at the same increasing rate along the same arc or does the rate dramatically increase SIMPLY DUE TO THE PRODUCTION OF SENSIBLE SWEAT in effect stripping the salts; washing them out of the system?.

Does clothing (up to a point) really make that much difference other than to your comfort? or is the loss of salts/cramping more a question of the degree or intensity of the metabolic activity.

I'm thinking the issue is more about the base line of salts in your system before the activity and the replacement of those salts during the activity than it is about whether you're wearing R-1 or least up to a point that encompasses most of this discussion.

I suspect in heavy physical activity the sweating,loss of fluids/salts is going on whether you "feel" it or not. You could slow your rate of work and slow the loss and the need to replace or increase the pace and the need to replace. And actually at very intense levels you might lose fluids/and salts faster than you can replcae them making your "pre-loaded" salt and fluid levels more important.

BTW 2000 feet of elevation gain over 1.2 miles is a slope of 31.5 % Wow that's steep. Was there a trail?

Edited by obxcola on 11/19/2012 08:15:01 MST.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
clothing on 11/19/2012 08:23:45 MST Print View

clothing discussion was completely ancillary to the discussion of electrolytes (he mentioned wetting out his R1 on the hike)

you'll see some very different views on electrolyte replacement in the literature, I think it might very well be an individual matter and some trial and error is in order

I've found what works for me, basically any longer runs I take an endurolyte capsule and a saltcap capsule on the hour; on longer hikes (25+ miles) every other hour

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Hydration and Salts" on 11/19/2012 09:13:54 MST Print View

I believe you were experiencing a potassium deficiency. Eat a couple bananas or even better drink some pickle juice to stave off this problem next time.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Clothing and electrolyte on 11/19/2012 09:17:40 MST Print View

The only connection between the two is that the clothing increased the sweat and sweat contains the lost salt. This may have been avoidable by stripping off a layer and decreasing sweat loss. This would be the first course of action and avoids the need for salt replacement. I have found a huge difference between cold and hot weather for the need to use electrolyte capsules, not surprising. I follow Mikes suggestion above, though the frequency of electrolytes would be based on temperature, exertion and duration. For example yesterday I did a very fast 34 mile hike in about ten hours. I took 4 capsules which I think is equivalent to 12 enduralytes, fewer than if it was hotter. I also will error on the side of taking more than needed vs less. I hate getting leg and foot cramps when I stop and never want to have the chill/heat cycles that were really scary.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Hydration and Salts" on 11/19/2012 12:37:35 MST Print View

I think he was merely dehydrated and didn't eat enough. he never said what the total mileage of the hike was. It seems pretty unlikely he'd have an electrolyte deficiency with a normal american diet on a day hike unless it was pretty long. if he didnt drink anything after the couple of beers the night before they would help contribute to the dehydration.

drink more and eat more often. Learn to recognize what you need before you really need it, since as you said, playing catch up once it is too late is hard.

i'm not a big fan of electrolyte pills.. getting sodium and other stuff is so easy to get with normal hiking snack food.

sucks that your "friends" weren't supportive.

Yes 1000
(mamamia) on 11/19/2012 12:38:21 MST Print View

Here is the trail information, I was wrong about the actual elevation gain, its ~1900 ft in 1.5 miles to reach the summit of ELK mountain.

Yes 1000
Re: Re: Re: Hydration and Salts" on 11/19/2012 12:41:00 MST Print View

Total mileage was ~12 miles and we did it in 6 hrs 30 min. Group was supportive enough to slow down their pace, but we still had couple who raced but I slowed down, with few others and used to catch up with the "Fast" hikers within 5-6 minutes apart.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
electrolytes on 11/19/2012 12:42:20 MST Print View

like Greg I'd rather err a little on the too much side vs too little; all the reading I've done (albeit related to ultrarunning vs hiking) typically suggests the same- yes you can over do it w/ too many electrolytes, but it would really be tough to do- it's much easier and more common to take in too few

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Hydration and Salts" on 11/19/2012 13:25:02 MST Print View

"The only connection between the two is that the clothing increased the sweat"

That's my question. Does the clothing really increase the sweat; within a reasonable range? In cooler weather isn't the significant% of the sweat generated by the level of exertion?

Good info on the endurolyte and salt caps. I've take potassium and manganese since I had a couple of bad episodes of the toe curling variety.

Wow 34 miles in 10 hours! 3.4 mph over 10 hours is fast walking! I was getting a transit from the owner of " A walk in the Woods" last December and he was relating to me how an avid hiker/trail runner had recently done the entire 72 miles of the AT in the Smokies in like 15 hours or some such amazing time. The guy had to be doing some running. Averaged like 4.85 mph, though some elite race walkers average under 7 minute miles over 50 km or 31 miles which is over 9 mph. The 50 km race-walking world record per wikipedia is 3 hours 34 minutes and some seconds.

Edited to add I think Jake might be on to something with the dehydration effect from metabolizing alcohol........yep even with a few beers :( I've heard that coffee can also be a factor which might relate to the diuretic effect causing a hydration deficit.

Edited by obxcola on 11/19/2012 13:31:02 MST.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Hydration and Salts" on 11/19/2012 19:34:13 MST Print View

If he was overdressed.. which seems like he was, then yea, you are too warm then you sweat more. which is why you should adjust your clothing so that you are not sweating excessively.

Yep. coffee wouldn't help either. not a good for hydration.

1900 in 1.2 is pretty steep, i descended a trail that did 1500 in 1.2 a few months ago so i can think of how it was going up.

for me 12mi i'd probably do 1.5-2L of water/gatorade. but many people would need more than that. would also do a snack and a sandwich.

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
cramps on 11/19/2012 19:58:43 MST Print View

OP: I used to suffer from cramps whilst playing summer sport as a teen, I initially thought that I should stop avoiding the high salt products but I was very wrong. Adding extra salt to your diet won't help because it's the loss of salt on the day of the event that is (perhaps) causing the cramp.

I solved my cramps with nuun pre- and post- exercise and now use it any time I drink water.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
sweat on 11/20/2012 03:34:08 MST Print View

1. you wore too much going uphill ... its that simple ... unless its pretty cold or at lower exertion i dont wear a R1 uphill ... period

2, if you DO get cold at stops ... use a light puffy to keep you warm .. you can strap it to yr pack ... or tie it like a bandolier like i do when climbing ... and use yr zippers, theyre there for a reason

3. wear the lightest base layer you can get away with and MAYBE a light shell on the way up ... this means something like one of those cheap running mesh shirts ...

4 on the way down THEN wear the R1 or light puffy unzipped if youre getting a bit cold

5. the more you sweat, the more water you need to consume, the more dehydrated you are, and the less well you think

6. which means youll also need to carry more water ...

7. if youre always overheating or running out of water in the winter ... youre doing something wrong ... and chances are its not the gear, but the use thereoff

8. technique and skill over all that fancy gear any day of the week for any trip

the best quote is

but most of my team members aren't even aware of BPL, all they do is they just hike.

which is the best advice possible ... dont worry about what people on BPL or the intrawebs are doing ... find out what works in real life, test it out, over and over again

get in the best shape you can ... the best way to lose weight or make yr pack "feel lighter" is to be in shape ...

as to the group being "azzholes" ... if you were to come climbing with me i would expect you to be in basic shape, have certain skills and be able to climb at a certain level, not that im a good climber ... but you should be more a real climber than a virtual one ;)

smart and experienced people wear as little as possible when moving ... and one reason why they dont "wait for others" is because they have to keep moving in order not to get cold ... or theyll waste time pulling out a puffy (which they may not carry) and cooling down ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/20/2012 03:47:07 MST.

clothing on 11/20/2012 21:03:56 MST Print View

When you first said what you were wearing I thought "way too much"

40F and rain , while hiking I would be wearing synthetic short sleeve shirt and breathable rain jacket.

I would wear a light fleece until I warmed up, 10-30 min depending on terrain.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Learnt an very important Lesson on Hydration and Salts on 12/04/2012 13:29:14 MST Print View

If the other hikers were just hiking maybe they had no idea you were suffering. You have to say something. It's not being a wimp to say, "Hey, I need to stop and take off a layer." It's not even being a wimp to say, "I can't keep up this pace. I'm going to slow down a bit. Please wait for me at the next junction."

Sometimes fast hikers can get into a semi-competitive groove. They're all hoping for a little excuse to slow down and without it they keep pushing on each other to speed up because they can feel someone nipping at their heels.

RA Amundsen
Long walks on 12/07/2012 16:33:00 MST Print View

That trip sounds like one of the reasons I hike alone. If in a group of sporty types, their pace breaks me after half a day of keeping up.
Surrendering and admitting weakness to all the alphas up front? Not an option, not so much.

I'll happily walk between sunrise and sundown, but at my own, weird rhythm.
Sweat (to me), is a sign I either need to take a break or slow down or change clothes.