I spent much of my Presidents Day holiday on the trail. The 75 degree blue sky weather was beautiful and the people were few. Those that I did see gave me a lot to comment on had I the opportunity to engage with them like I did when I wore the uniform. I keep my mouth shut out there now most of the time now but I thought that I would do a quick Hiking 101 (Arizona version) for my readers.
It is pretty basic and common sense, I know, but I have learned over the years that common sense is anything but common so here you go.
WATER UP – Water, water, water is what I preach to my players and considering our low humidity environment it is good advice. When you work hard in our dry heat you lose a lot of water just by huffing and puffing and sweat that quickly evaporates so you don’t notice it. Dehydration sneaks up on you. I start and end every day with a tall glass of water and try to get through at least a gallon in between whether I am going out or not. That way my I keep my internal tank topped off.
I did a little over nine miles yesterday with some pretty substantial ups and downs. My little Black Diamond day pack contained a 100 ounce Camelbak and a 16 ounce Super Man bottle. When I got back to the truck 4-5 hours later the bottle was empty and the bladder had about 10 ounces left in it. I was ready to sit down and take a break but I didn’t have a headache, I wasn’t tripping over everything and I was chit chatting with other people in the parking lot. Those are all good signs.
PROPER FOOTWARE AND CLOTHING – I left the truck wearing
- a light colored boonie hat
- Tommy Bahamas sunglasses
- a loose fitting long sleeve Under Armour shirt
- Under Armour boxer briefs
- Under Armour nylon athletic shorts
- Danner ankle socks
- Montail Hard Rock trail running shoes
- a little sunscreen on my neck
- a whistle on a neck lanyard
- a Road ID on my wrist
That’s it. I was comfortable and protected from getting too much sun.
You would be amazed at what I see out there. Everything from right out of church over dressed to damn near naked.
HIKING POLE – Never leave the truck without one. It is a third leg that gives me a little extra push on the ups and catches me when I slip or take a bad step on the way down. It also is a snake remover, dog poop flinger, back scratcher, place to hang my hat when I take a break, good place to store a few feet of Gorilla Tape, self defense tool, signaling device (with a bandana or some reflective tape), make shift crutch or splint, etc, etc.
Here are some other things I have learned from a lot of time hiking on Arizona trails…
Leave your dog at home. If you have an overwhelming compulsion to take you dog out in public and mingle with other dog owners find a dog park.
Pay constant attention to where you are putting your feet while you are moving. If you are going to look at the scenery, and I absolutely think you should, don’t do it while you are moving. Stop and look around or you are gonna take a fall or roll an ankle. It only takes one misstep.
Arizona trails are almost always super rocky, from little round marbles to salt block sized ankle breakers our trails consist of mile after mile of rocks. So, make sure you put your feet on the solid stuff while you are going down hill or that forward foot is gonna come out from under you. Go from one mostly buried rock to another and stay off the marbles and you will be fine.
Remember that most skiing accidents happen on the last run of the day and most mountaineering accidents happen post summit on the descent so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most hiking injuries happen on the way back or during the last half of the outing.
Earbuds and headphones. I love music too but I can’t hear the runner or mountain biker coming up fast on my left while I am wearing headphones or earbuds. I also can’t hear that Rattlesnake that is on the edge of the trail. Unplug.
I am guilty of daydreaming if I don’t work hard to pay close attention out there but daydreaming on the trail can get you hurt. Not a big deal usually if you are close to the car but if you are way back it can be a problem, especially if you are alone. Stay sharp.
WHAT TO CARRY – In a small day pack I carry
- electrolyte replacement fluid
- truck key
- bandana x2
- mini sharpie marker
- lip balm
- snack (mixed salted nuts in a small zip lock bag)
- bic lighter
- SPOT (second gen)
- 3 inch Ace bandage
- 6 4x4s
- Bloodstopper bandage
- triangular bandage
- Benadryl tablet x2
- tube of glucose gel
That is more than most people need to carry but the first time I don’t carry that stuff is when I will run into a bad mountain biker or horseback rider wreck. I will always stop to help so I want to be at least somewhat effective.
So get out there and do some hiking. It is good for you.