Desert Hiking

Desert hiking is undoubtedly one of our favorite family activities. The expansiveness and vastness of the desert are truly remarkable. We spend probably 3-4 weeks a year in the four corners area. Every trip has its share of bumps and bruises, that’s a given. Probably the closest call we’ve experienced hasn’t been due to snake bite, being lost or being involved in a climbing accident. Our close call was due to heat stroke. We’ve been hiking in the desert since the late 80′s and we pride ourselves on knowing a thing or two about back-country travel. Hubris can certainly be your downfall! What we thought would be a simple 4 miles hike, turned into a very scary, life-threatening situation. Had it not been for some very determined friends, our fun outing turned serious wilderness incident could have turned out much worse. Suffice to say in the end we self-rescued and the story has become a good event to learn from.

There are numerous sites/books dedicated to desert survial, so I won’t offer too much “techincal” advice. I’ll just briefly list what I consider to be absolutely imperative items/information to take along on any desert outing:

  • A phone! The first question asked by the back-country ranger who happened on the scene was “do you have a Verizon cell phone”. The answer, “yes, back in our camp”. If you do have a cell, make sure to take it along.
  • More water than you think you need – and then some more. We were well stocked at the start of the hike, but after heat stroke became a real issue, the water was rapidly depleted. While one of our party was drinking as much water as possible, that left the rest of the group (kids included) with little water. No matter how small the hike seems – bring double the water suggested.
  • Make sure to have heat related medical items. We had first aid gear that day, however what we didn’t have was medical items specifically for heat related illness. Make sure you have Emergency C packets, cold packs, salts and – something to create instant shade! Our incident happened with no available shade and we really had to improvise to create a minimum of shade. Having an umbrella or large tarp to create a shield from the sun would have really helped.

Adventure Medical Kits Comprehensive Kit

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