Keep your cool while hot weather hiking

I am of the mindset that the heat simply changes how we play outside in the summer, rather than limits it, says Sam Waddington.

The view from atop Mount Cheam. The warm weather has made hiking a bit more challenging this year. But with proper preparation, Chilliwack's great outdoors can still be enjoyed.

This summer certainly has wasted no time in turning into an absolute scorcher! With temperatures seemingly sustained in the high 20s and 30s it is easy to put off getting outside and instead settle into the air-conditioned comfort of a couch somewhere.  Although this might be tempting, I am of the mindset that the heat simply changes how we play outside in the summer, rather than limits it.

In early July last year hiking enthusiasts were postponing trips on peaks in the Cheam Range and in Manning Park, because snow was still covering much of the trails. This year the Cheam route, and many other alpine trails were accessible as early as late May. So if summer has come almost two months early we should probably find some decent ways to live it up large in the outdoors and have an extended summer to remember.

Given our location in this coastal rainforest, even when the skies have refused to rain for weeks on end and the rivers run a little slower, the dense foliage of the forest retains its moisture and passes that cooling effect on to those of us who choose to travel there.  Many of Chilliwack’s popular hikes would fall within this kind of terrain, and so they continue to make for great evening and weekend outings, whether that is a fitness run up Mt. Thom or a family outing to Bridal Falls.

I would like to share a few tips from other parts of the world where our current weather is their norm, rather than the exception like it is for us.  This list is one that I honed in while I was living in Egypt and yet still trying to get into the mountains. To beat the heat:

• Plan your outing for early in the morning or in the evening. Avoid being out at mid-day.

• Adults who is exerting themselves in the heat should be drinking one litre of water per hour. Always bring more than enough water.

• Cover your head. Keeping the sun off of your head and face will help regulate your temperature.

• Wearing long sleeve shirts that are light and breathable are actually cooler than T-shirts and tank tops when you are in the sun.

• Take long breaks in the shade or where there is a breeze and allow your core temperature to drop.

• If you suspect heat exhaustion or heat stroke cool yourself off as fast as possible. Jump in a creek, or wet your shirt and allow a breeze to wick the moisture.

• Choose an appropriate trail for you and your company’s skill level. Spring and fall are great seasons to really push yourself and try a long hard trail, mid summer… not so much.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you to get out there and enjoy the trails this summer. Just remember be bear aware and bring bear spray and/or bear bangers, pack out ALL of your garbage including that which you believe to be biodegradable, it will attract animals to the trails. At this point in the summer it should go without saying, however I will say it anyway, please do not smoke in the backcountry! The generations to come will thank you anonymously for not ruining their wild places.

Sam Waddington is owner of Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors: “Equipping you for rock, water, snow, sand, wind and anything else the outdoors can throw at you!”

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