I've written about hiking safety for the desert before, but after reading really sad news about a French couple who passed away on a short hike in the desert near White Sands (their son survived them...). The cause of this disaster was likely that they were simply not prepared for the conditions: they didn't have enough water or other things they needed to consider.
So, let me run over some hiking tips for desert conditions again!!! Please take them into consideration!!
- Water, Water, Water!!
Bring more than you need.
Bring at least two liters. More if you're going for more than 2 hours.
Don't expect to find water sources--bring more!!
Expert tip: Chug as much water as you can at the trail head - at least a liter. Then top off your bottle so it’s completely full when you hit the trail.!
- Energy-rich, high-protein food!
Bring SNACKS! Try to pick energy rich foods that aren't salty to help keep your energy up.
- Take Advantage of Land Features
Use the Shade when it's there! If you're running out of water or feeling hot, find a rock or any sort of shadow and sit in it for 1-2 hours.
Breathe through your nose--it'll save moisture.
Carry on after the sun sets.
Look for deciduous trees or bushes as well, they might not be there, but if they are, they'll only grow near a water source.
Have a Way Out!
- Bring a cell phone. Keep it off until you have an emergency. Keep extra battery bc the heat can kill your main one.
- Bring a Map/Compass and a GPS. Bring BOTH!
- Bring a satellite phone (if you have it). You may not have service on your cell, but a satellite phone will help you get out safe.
Dress for the Desert!
High SPF, waterproof, sweatproof, enough said. You need it!
- Proper Clothing
Light colored, long sleeves that are lightweight!
Sunglasses help with the sun glaring into your eyes the entirety of a hike.
A hat is also a good addition for extra sun protection for your face.
Keep in mind a baseball hat will leave your neck entirely exposed, so a hat with a big brim is better.
Cover your head to protect from overheating and sunburn! If you keep your head covered you'll stay cooler and loose less heat.