Care urged when hiking during blazing Arizona summer

PHOENIX — It was 9 a.m. and the temperature had already reached 100 degrees.

Instead of enjoying his cool, air-conditioned home, Brantwon Bowser was hiking Piestewa Peak with his girlfriend.

“I think you can just have good workout climbing the mountain, instead of staying in the gym for an hour, ” Bowser said.

He knows the heat can be deadly. Four hikers died over the weekend because of the heat.

“I am not really afraid of it, and I prepare myself,” Bowser said. “I drink a lot of water everyday before I hike.”

Phoenix recreation officials and others discourage hiking in extreme temperatures.

“In an environment like this, with the increased temperature, every little problem becomes a huge problem,” said Josh Parnell of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

“We want to make sure that we can do our best to keep that from happening.”

The city has a campaign, Take a Hike, Do it Right that offers tips on its website. Free bottles of water and ice are available in the parking lots of some of the city’s mountain parks.

Denise Seomin, spokeswoman for the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, said they recommend to their guests that they take the resort’s fitness test before hiking.

Phoenix officials, hikers and the Phoenician offer these tips for hiking in the metro area during an Arizona summer:

Before a hike

  • Eat a good, protein-based meal.
  • Drink as much water as you can.
  • Check the weather. Reschedule your hike for another day if the temperature is in the triple digits or a monsoon storm is forecast.

When to hike

  • Early in the morning – preferably starting by 5 a.m and leaving before 9 a.m. – or in the evening shade.

During the hike

  • Wear sunscreen, long-sleeved, light-colored clothes to protect skin, hiking shoes, gloves to protect your hands in case of falling and a big hat to shade the face.
  • Try to hike in the shade to reduce sun exposure and carry a water pack or spray water bottle.
  • Bring frozen water with you or have some in your car. Drink one bottle of water at least every 20 minutes. When your water is halfway gone, turn around and head home.
  • Bring your cell phone and call 911 if you or a fellow hiker is in trouble.
  • Hike with a friend rather than walk alone. If you are solo, tell others your start time, end time and location.
  • Don’t push yourself. If you’re not feeling well, head home.

After the hike

  • Continue drinking water throughout the day, stay in shade or indoors and make yourself comfortable.