Summer Hiking - Hike Smart
The National Park Service urges SPECIAL CAUTION for all hikers during the summer months.
Recommendations for Summer Hiking in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Our first recommendation for summer hiking in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is that you not hike during the summer months. Instead, we encourage you to enjoy alternative activities in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. You may want to consider some of the activities listed below.
Excessive heat is the #1 weather-related killer in Arizona, Nevada and California. If you decide to go hiking during the summer months, please remember to be prepared. Do not rely on physical strength alone; hiking smart will take you much farther. Rangers respond to heat exhausted hikers every day during the summer – don’t become one of them. Use the information below to hike smart.
For more tips, visit the CDC at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.asp.
White Rock Trail - It is highly recommended that you not hike the White Rock Trail during the summer months. The White Rock Trail is also known as The Technical Trail and Arizona Hot Springs Trail. It also branches off into the Liberty Bell Trail. There is no shade in this area and many hikers lose their direction and get lost. The risk of heat stroke and death is a serious danger at the White Rock Trail during summer months.
Gold Strike Hot Spring - It is highly recommended that you not hike the Gold Strike Hot Spring trail during the summer months. There is no shade, the terrain is challenging, and there are steep drop offs. The risk of heat stroke and death is a serious danger at the Gold Strike Hot Spring Trail.
Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail - If you decide to do an early morning hike at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you may consider the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. This is a maintained trail without rough terrain. You should plan your hike only for the early morning hours. Plan to be back at your car before 10 a.m.
Even if you are eating and drinking correctly you still need to avoid hiking in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Sun temperatures are 15F to 20F (9C-11C) degrees hotter than posted shade temperatures.
Plan your day so you are not hiking between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Shift strenuous outdoor activities to cooler parts of the day, especially during the early morning. Experienced desert hikers know that the timing of their hike is the most important factor in avoiding hazards.
This is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It will help decrease your core body temperature. Whenever you are near water, make sure that you soak yourself with the water. If you hike while soaking wet, you will stay reasonably cool. This will make a wonderful difference in how well you feel, especially at the end of the day.
HEAT EXHAUSTION – The result of dehydration due to intense sweating. Hikers can lose one or two quarts (liters) of water per hour.
Symptoms: pale face, nausea, vomiting, cool and moist skin, headache, cramps.
Treatment: drink water with electrolytes, eat high-energy foods (with fats and sugars), rest in the shade for 30-45 minutes, and cool the body by getting wet.
HEATSTROKE – A life-threatening emergency where the body’s heat regulating mechanisms become overwhelmed by a combination of internal heat production and environmental demands. Your body loses its ability to cool itself. Untreated heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
Symptoms: flushed face, dry skin, weak and rapid pulse, high core body temperature, confusion, poor judgment or inability to cope, unconsciousness, seizures.
Treatment: the heatstroke victim must be cooled immediately! Continuously pour water on the victim’s head and torso, fan to create an evaporative cooling effect. Immerse the victim in cold water if possible. Move the victim to shade and remove excess clothing. The victim needs evacuation to a hospital. Someone should go for help while attempts to cool the victim continue.
HYPONATREMIA (water intoxication) – An illness that mimics the early symptoms of heat exhaustion. It is the result of low sodium in the blood caused by drinking too much water and losing too much salt through sweating.
Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, altered mental states, confusion, frequent urination. The victim may appear intoxicated. In extreme cases seizures may occur.
Treatment: have the victim eat salty foods, slowly drink sports drinks with electrolytes and rest in the shade. If mental alertness decreases, seek immediate help!
HYPOTHERMIA – A life-threatening emergency where the body cannot keep itself warm, due to exhaustion and exposure to cold, wet, windy weather.
Symptoms: uncontrolled shivering, poor muscle control, careless attitude. Look for signs of the “umbles” – stumbling, mumbling, fumbling, grumbling.
Treatment: remove wet clothing and put on dry clothing, drink warm sugary liquids, warm victim by body contact with another person, protect from wind, rain and cold.
Avoid hypothermia by checking at ranger stations for daily weather information, taking layered clothing for protection against cold and wet weather, eating frequently, replacing fluids and electrolytes by drinking before feeling thirsty, and avoiding exposure to wet weather.
Did You Know?
"The wilderness . . . that has come to us from the eternity of the past we have the boldness to project into the eternity of the future. It seems presumptuous for men and women . . . to dare to undertake a program for perpetuity, but that surely is our challenge." -- Howard Zahniser