Posted on July 27, 2016
Before you go, plan ahead. You are entirely on your own. Your descent marks your entry into a world in which preparation, self-reliance, and common sense are crucial. Be conservative in planning your hikes!
Don't Hike Alone
Know what your destination will be. Don't overestimate your capabilities. Hike intelligently. You are responsible for your own safety as well as that of everyone in your party.
The less you carry, the more enjoyable your hike will be, so travel as lightly as possible. The heaviest items in your pack should be your food and water. Hiking sticks can take some of the stress off your legs.
Wear well-fitting and broken-in lightweight hiking boots. Bring a small lightweight flashlight and a change of batteries and bulb. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Bring a map, compass, signal mirror, moleskin, and water purification tablets (as a backup).
Stay on the trail and never shortcut switchbacks. Human fecal waste should be buried under 6"-8" of mineral soil and the toilet paper carried out with you. Leave the area as you found it; all trash (including biodegradable) needs to be carried out.
Take a Break
A break of five to seven minutes every 30 to 60 minutes can remove approximately 20 to 30 percent of the waste products that have built up in your legs while hiking. Sit down and prop your legs up above the level of your heart and let gravity help drain these metabolic waste products out of your legs.
Eat some food, drink some fluids, and take this break time to really enjoy and appreciate the view. These efficient breaks can really recharge your batteries. In the long run, these breaks will not slow you down.
No Food, No Fuel, No Fun
Stay hydrated and eat often. Eat and drink more than you normally do. Eat before, during, and after you hike. Eat before you are hungry. Drink water before you are thirsty. No matter what the temperature, you need water and energy to keep going.
Keeping yourself cool and hiking in Arizona takes a very large amount of energy (food). Salty snacks and water or sports drinks should be part of any hike. Food is your body's primary source of fuel and salts (electrolytes) while hiking in a desert climate.
Your best defense against illness and exhaustion is to eat a healthy breakfast, a snack every time you take a drink, and a rewarding full dinner at the end of the day. This is not a time to diet.
Eating adequate amounts of food will also help guarantee that you are replacing the electrolytes (salts) that you are sweating out. If you replace the water, but not the electrolytes that you have sweated out of your body, you can develop a serious and dangerous medical condition known as hyponatremia (water intoxication), which, if left untreated, can lead to seizures and possibly death. You need to eat about twice as much as you normally would to meet your energy and electrolyte needs while hiking.
Watch your time
Plan on taking twice as long to hike uphill as it takes to hike downhill. As a courtesy, give uphill hikers the right of way.
All prices are in USD.