Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: June 2015


Hiking in the Heat: 10 Tips for the Summer

Seasonal Safety Series #1

by Craig “Goatman” Buckley

                 The heat is coming! Or it’s already here for some (I don’t pretend to know the weather across time and space). Either way, as summer sets in with its long, hot and sometimes brutally humid days, getting out for a hike can become an obstacle for some…but not for the Goatman! All seasons come with their challenges and all challenges can be met with knowledge, preparation, and some good old-fashioned human willpower. We’ll go ahead and take care of the knowledge part here with ten tips for keeping safe in the heat. The rest is up to you. So read up and get out there!

  1. Hydrate

Nothing fancy about this one. Drink water. Drink extra water the day before you are going out. Drink water on the way to the trail. Drink water as you hike, when you eat, and before settling in for the night. On a hot day, you will sweat between 1/2 and 1 quart of water while moving. You also lose water breathing out when you sleep at night. With proper hydration, there’s no reason to feel thirsty. Keep in mind that water sources can be unreliable in the summer. Make sure to check with the rangers to see how the water is flowing and where.

  1. Refuel

So you’re drinking a lot of water, enough to replace what you’ve sweated out. summersunSweat, however, isn’t just water. Lick your arm. Does that taste like water? Nope. Tastes like sweat. Sweat is water, yes, but it is also salt, salt that needs to be replaced. Don’t believe me? Look up the term “hyponatremia”. Never thought you could drink too much water? Take time for proper nutrition and you won’t. Companies advertise electrolytes in their sports drinks. This is what they are talking about. The best way to replace these is to eat salty foods: trail mix, peanuts, pretzels, etc. You can also drink sports drinks, but if you do so, make sure that you aren’t only drinking sports drinks. Replace your salt and while you’re doing that, replace some of those calories that you’re burning out in the sun.

  1. Dress for the Heat

You may have heard about the 3 L’s of summertime clothing: lightweight, loose fitting, and light-colored. This is great advice, for obvious reasons. Depending on your destination, you should also remember to wear clothes that are wicking and quick dry. There’s nothing worse than sweating out your cotton undies and having your shirt stick and rub on you as you hike. Quick dry and wicking can prevent chaffing. That being said, if you are going to a dry and hot environment such as the Grand Canyon, the moisture that cotton retains won’t be sticking around for very long and can help cool you off as it evaporates in the dry climate. Keep in mind that light-colored clothing reflects the sun’s heat and loose fitting clothing will help with breathability and is less restrictive. I will go ahead and add sunscreen as a clothing item. Treat it as such and you’ll save yourself a nasty burn.

  1. Wet Your Clothing

But my clothes are all sweaty! Why would I wet them further? I don’t know about you, but my sweat on a hot summer day isn’t coming out as cool as a mountain stream.summerfalls The easiest way to benefit from this advice is to simply dip your Buff or bandana in a cool stream and wear it around your neck (the site of some major blood flow between your heart and brain. All of it, to be exact). This will cool you off for a bit. If you want a bigger dose, get on the quick dry clothing and jump right in (leave your socks and shoes off, naturally). Your cool, wet clothes will dissipate the heat you’re building up while hiking and the sun working with your own body heat will have you nice and dry by the time you reach camp.

 

  1. Go Swimming

You don’t have to tell me twice on this one. If it’s hot and there’s a pool big enough to dip my hooves in, I’m all over it. A nice, cool dip in the heat of the day can definitely put some bounce back in your gallop. I like to combine a few of these tips at the swimming hole: hydrating, eating a snack, swimming, and wetting my clothes all at the same time. That leads me to my next tip.

  1. Slow down

For some of you, this doesn’t seem like a tip at all. This one goes out to my laser-blazing GoBos, my long-distance hiking buddies who are out there to make miles, smiles or not. I’m not just suggesting this one because the Goatman likes to take it nice and easy (which is no secret). This is important. When the heat is blasting, slowing down your pace can be the difference between spending time on the trail and time in the hospital. Taking rest stops in the shade by water isn’t a decadent luxury in this case. If you are hiking through the heat of the day, you need these stops so that you don’t overheat. Hot days aren’t the time to push those big miles.

  1. Get Up Early, Finish Up Late

If you do plan on covering some ground, adjust accordingly. As much as we all adore the sun, in this case we are looking to avoid its beautiful face and the sun gets up pretty early in the summer and stays out a bit late. To beat the heat, avoid exerting yourself in the middle of the day. The danger zone is going to be between 12 pm and 2 pm. On really hot days or in desert climates, this extends to 10 am and 4 pm. So get up early and get hiking, but when you stop for lunch, do it somewhere with some shade and water and take a few hours off to catch up on some lounging time. Finish those last miles in the evening when the sun starts to dip back down. Remember your headlamp in case your hike takes you into the dark hours.

  1. Camp in the Shade

summerdesertThis one is pretty self-explanatory. Staying out of the direct sunlight is a good idea anytime of the day, even while on the move. I only mention this in relation to camping to remind you to plan out your site in relation not only to where the shade is when you stop, but where it will be in the morning. Try camping low, by water (but not too close in case of flash flooding), and in a good patch of shade that doesn’t move about all willy-nilly. This means not camping above tree line, or on ridges, or by overlooks. Boohoo. You shouldn’t be camping there anyway, but that’s a different article. Stay in the shade!

  1. Beat Bugs and Watch Your Step

Summer is the most active time for creepy crawlers and buzzing menaces. Make sure to pack out some bug spray, a bug net, and possibly light-weight long sleeves and long pants, if not to hike in, at least to sit around camp in. While you’re hiking, watch your step. This is a good idea in general, but this time of the year you need to watch for snakes out sun-bathing the morning away. They are sluggish when they’re in this state and might not get out of your way, so get out of theirs’ instead.

  1. Keep an Eye Out for Your Buddy

It’s never a good idea to hike alone. This goes double in times of extreme heat. Heat exhaustion is hard to diagnose on your own, seeing that the symptoms include becoming disoriented. Other signs include a pale face, clammy skin, nausea, headaches and cramps. If you see these signs in your buddy (or yourself) take a rest in the shade, put a cool cloth to the head, drink some water, and eat a little bit. If symptoms get worse, time to get off the trail and to some medical care. It takes a team to stay safe and have fun, so don’t forget that friend of yours!

Trail Runners Dominate Long Distance Hiking

by Eli “Shinbone” Staggs

At RRT, we see a lot of folks looking for a shoe to wear on an assortment of outdoor excursions. From my experience as a long distance hiker I try to sway them towards a non-waterproof trail runner, whether it’s for an overnight trip to the Red River Gorge or a long section of the Appalachian Trail. No matter where you go, moisture management will insure happy, blister-free feet.
The trade-offs between a high top boot and a trail runner are numerous. In my opinion, the benefits of a low top shoe that is not waterproof outweigh those of a waterproof high top boot during three-season hiking. Although sacrificing ankle support and warmth, a trail runner provides better breathability, cost efficiency, flexibility, and weight.

Support:
One of the first concerns I hear is that the low top shoe will not provide adequate support. The support a high top boot provides that a trail runner does not is in the ankle and stiffness of the shoe. The high top boot keeps your ankle from moving as much as a trail runner, which in certain terrains can hold you back when you want full range of motion (i.e. bolder scrambles). Backpacking boots are good for absorbing the shock that comes with walking with a heavy pack. These days, a pack in the 30 pound and under range is more common and the support of a boot can be overkill. As you get out and hike more, your ankles will strengthen and the extra support becomes less necessary.
Weight:
For every pound on your foot, you spend the amount of energy equivalent to 5 pounds on your back with each step. So every time you walk with the two to three pound boot, you are essentially adding 15 pounds to your back! A typical trail runner weighs just under a pound. On a short day hike this may not be noticeable, but on a week long trek you will definitely notice the difference each night.
Breathability:
Calling a waterproof shoe breathable implies an absolute. Every waterproof shoe is breathable to a degree. Different fabrics allow better air flow, but pale in comparison to a completely non-waterproof material. As a result of limited breathability, any water that enters the boot will not leave until you take the shoe off to dry. A trail runner will flush the water out with each step and dry on the move faster than the waterproof boot.
Warmth:Booot
The warmth that a shoe provides is a result of its breathability. A waterproof shoe will be significantly warmer than its counterpart, but this is only beneficial in the winter. During warmer temperatures, waterproofing can cause sweat to build up inside of the boot. In the cold, movement itself can keep your foot comfortable through freezing temperatures no matter what shoe. So a trail runner can keep you moving through cold snaps, although keep in mind that a waterproof boot will keep you more comfortable through sustained freezing temperatures or heavy snow.
Cost Efficiency:
A solid pair of hiking boots run in the price range of $200 or more while a pair of trail runners cost around $100. While it’s true that the boot may last twice as long, by that point, the boot will be damaged, it’s waterproofing compromised, the insole broken down, and the tread worn thin. Repairing the boot can cost upwards of $100. At this cost, you could have replaced your trail runners almost twice over.

In conclusion, trail runners will keep you on the move, help maintain drier, happier feet and maintain their value longer. Whether you are wearing waterproof or not, your feet will get wet during an extended backpacking trip. It may be from your own sweat or water entering through the giant hole your foot goes in. Having the proper footwear to combat prolonged moisture is key. The trail runner is the proper footwear that I use to manage moisture on long distance hikes. Waterproof boots are very specific in their use and should be saved for extended cold weather, snowy trails, or use with heavy loads. So weigh the pros and cons against your needs. No one knows your foot better than yourself!DSC_0444

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Jetboil: Taste Freedom!

By George Ferree

Whether you are a backwoods culinary artist or a trail-blazing, Mountain House munching machine, Jetboil has a new stove that will awaken the gear junkie in all of us. Jetboil has been leading the outdoor industry in self-contained, rapid boiling stove systems for years. These stoves feature an integrated burner and pot system that pack down with room for a fuel canister inside of the pot. MSR has recently edged its way into the rapid-boil market with its new, totally rad Wind Burner. Jetboil and the MSR Wind Burner are killer when it comes to heating water. They both have boil times of just over two minutes for a half liter of water and are as efficient as a fox in a hen-house.

Jetboil has recently upped their game yet again with a new and improved stove valve. This new valve allows for uncompromised simmer control, a feature sorely missed in rapid boil stove systems until now. The new valve allows for performance down to 20oF, a big improvement from previous models. Jetboil has introduced two new stoves featuring the valve: the 1.8L Sumo and its little brother, the 1L MiniMo (pot volume being the only difference between the two).

Capture2The Jetboil stove has long been a center piece of my camp kitchen in the backcountry, the front country, and the car country. It is very stable and is convenient hell. The neoprene wrapped, lidded pot attaches to the burner which then screws straight into a canister of fuel. What this means to you is that you can literally hike with this in your hand while boiling water (I’ve seen it done).

If you geek out over super lightweight multifunctional gear, this stove system is for you. It’s lightweight, packs down into itself, and has a lid with a pour/sipping spout and a strainer. Thanks to the pot’s fold out handle, it also doubles as tankard for post-hike, celebratory beers. If you, like me, are all about eating better in the backcountry than you do at home, then this stove is also for you. The flux ring on the bottom of the pot (and optional pots and pans of various sizes) helps to pull heat to the edge of the dish delivering a more even heating surface. The new burner allows for an extremely fine control of flame output required for more delicate dishes. An included foldout tripod clips onto the bottom of the fuel canister increasing the unit’s stability by at least half a percent, if not more.

The new Jetboil: boiling water for a morning brew, simmering stews, crisping crepes, and cooking a slab of cow to perfection are all now doable in one bodacious and compact cook system. Jetboil: Taste Freedom!

 

 

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