Park Rangers are warning folks to take extreme caution.

By Stacey Leasca
June 23, 2020
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It seems like everyone is heading out on National Park adventures this summer. But, before stepping out for a hike or camping trip, the National Park Service wants you to be prepared for one thing: extreme heat.

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On Monday, rangers at the Grand Canyon took to social media to warn travelers about the excessive heat the park is currently experiencing. How hot is it? Apparently, it’s hot enough to melt hiking shoes right now.

“Grand Canyon is an unforgiving environment,” the park explained in a tweet. “The heat inside the canyon can cause shoes to come apart, and heavy hiking boots can trap sweat and lead to painful blisters. Before setting off on a hike, understand the limitations of yourself and your gear.”

On its website, the park also warned travelers that any rescue or assistance efforts for those suffering from the heat may be delayed over the next few months due to limited staff and limited helicopter flying capability, again due to the heat. This week, the park officials said, temperatures will reach 110° F (43° C).

“Do not rely on physical strength alone, hiking smart will take you much farther,” the website noted. “Rangers respond to heat exhausted hikers every day during the summer — don't let yourself become one of them! Use the information below to hike smart.”

If you still want to go out the park offered 10 essentials for staying safe while hiking in the heat:

  • Water — plain and some with electrolyte replacement.
  • Food — especially salty foods. Eat twice as much as normal.
  • First Aid Kit — bandaids, ace wrap, antiseptic, moleskin, etc.
  • Map — while many trails are well-marked, maps are helpful tools.
  • Pack — to carry the essentials.
  • Flashlight/Spare Batteries — allows you to hike out during the cool of the evening.
  • Spray Bottle — fill with water for your own personal air conditioning system.
  • Hat/Sunscreen — to keep the sun off you and protect your skin.
  • Whistle and/or Signal Mirror — for emergency use.
  • Waterproof Clothing — poncho or jacket; especially useful during monsoon season (mid-July to early September).

The park experts also explained, “fluid loss can exceed two quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight and during the hottest time of the day” but also warned not to over drink water as well. Instead, make sure to balance both food and water intake as you hike. If you see salt rings on your clothing it means you need to drink a bit more.

Lastly, the park advised visitors to avoid hiking in the middle of the day, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Even if you are eating and drinking correctly you still need to avoid hiking in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day,” the park explained. “Sun temperatures are 15F to 20F (9C-11C) degrees hotter than posted shade temperatures. And keep in mind, the farther into the canyon you go the hotter it gets!”

Instead, plan on getting up very early to start your hike then take a break in a shaded area, then hiking out in the evening. Before heading out check out all of the National Park tips for hiking in the heat here.