By Misty Newman
The “Take a Hike, Do it Right” campaign, a collaborative effort between the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and the Phoenix Fire Department, is a result of increased mountain rescues.
It is estimated that every year, approximately 200 people are rescued from the City of Phoenix desert and mountain preserves. The trouble isn’t just in Maricopa County. According to Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the Search and Rescue unit handled 175 incidents in 2016, and 103 were medical rescues.
Introduced in August of 2015, the campaign is designed to educate people on the dangers of hiking.
As you and your friends and family go hiking, consider these guidelines from the Phoenix “Take a Hike, Do it Right” Campaign:
- Watch the weather: Yes, it’s a dry heat — but Arizona’s temperature can be deceiving and deadly. Hike when it’s cool outside, try early mornings and evenings when there’s more shade.
- Dress appropriately: Wear proper shoes, clothing, hat and sunscreen.
- Bring water: Hydrate before you go. Have plenty of water – more than you think you need.
- Keep in contact: Carry a mobile phone
- Team up: Hike with others. If hiking solo, tell someone your start and end times, and location.
- Be honest: Do you have a medical condition? Asthma, heart problems, diabetes, knee or back problems? Don’t push yourself. (Even trained athletes have been caught off guard by getting dehydrated on Arizona trails). The altitude, the strenuous climbing, dehydration and the intense inner canyon heat all combine to make any medical problem worse.
- Don’t trailblaze: Enjoy the Sonoran Desert’s beautiful and undeveloped landscape, but stay on designated trails.
- Take responsibility: Don’t be “that person” – the one who was unprepared, shouldn’t have been there for health reasons or ignored safety guidelines. Be the responsible hiker, who takes a hike and does it right!
Aside from these guidelines, here are a couple of other tips to keep in mind when hiking:
Take a break for five to seven minutes every 30 to 60 minutes. If you can, sit down and prop your legs up above the level of your heart. These breaks can really recharge your batteries, and in the long run will not slow you down.
Be sure you stay hydrated and eat often. You should eat before, during and after you hike. No matter what the temperature, you need water and energy to keep going.
Since this campaign was launched, there has been a lot of effort made to get the numbers down on hikers who need to be rescued. Park rangers suggest less experienced hikers start on easier trails and experienced hikers keep an eye on those who may need water or other types of assistance.
Misty Newman is the owner of Maricopa Outdoor Adventures.
This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.