Tips For Hiking in the Desert

desertHiking in the desert can be an amazing adventure, but this adventure could easily turn into a disaster, especially if a change in the weather surprises you unprepared. Keep in mind that going to the desert always brings risks, during winter and summer time. Don’t forget that even when you are carrying a GPS device, these have some limitations in certain areas. The desert can be a lovely and interesting place, as long as the weather is friendly, and bad weather can turn a nice desert hike into a tragedy, that is why it is so important to have knowledge in basic survival skills when in the desert. It’s important that you never travel alone and always try to find safe areas to rest or camp in.

Water is Primordial

You need at least a gallon per person, per day when in the desert.  As most of us know there are no trustable water sources in desertic areas. I don’t care how many TV shows you see where people miraculously find water, even in the desert. Remember, these are just TV shows, and these guys have camera crews and emergency personnel available at all times. Remember to stay hydrated. This is crucial to remaining healthy. One gallon per person, per day is the minimum amount that you must carry, and remember that water weighs about eight pounds per gallon. Once you only have half of your water supply it’s time to go back, and remember to keep some extra water in your vehicle. You also got to remember to drink it. Water is only good if you drink it.

Plan your Trip Carefully

It’s vital to let someone know when you are out in the desert and when are you planning on coming back. Follow the itinerary that you planned, and let people know when will you return. Don’t ever go out to the desert if you don’t have a map such as USGS topographic maps, these maps show land contours and precise features. Learn how to use a compass and a map before you go hiking, especially on trails that are not very defined. You could easily get lost where most elements and landmarks look

Dress Properly

Clothes are as important as everything else, covered clothes prevent dehydration and reduce sun exposure. You’ll also want proper hiking shoes, and try using fit natural-fiber clothes. Be sure to use a wide brimmed hat as it prevents sun damage. Sunscreen is also a must, as so are sunglasses.

A desert can get really hot. Temperatures can go up to  90° and drop below 50° F. in just one day. During summer time temperatures can go up to 125° F. in certain areas. And during winter temperatures can drop to freezing. make sure you have some extra warm clothing.

Minimum Impact Hiking

A desert is a magic and fragile place; soils are very delicate and can take a while to recover if disturbed. the darker soil that breaks up easier reveals cryptogamic soils. lichens, mosses, bacteria and other elements. Avoid these areas as they protect desert life.

The weather in the desert can suddenly turn very violent, especially when a thunderstorm breaks over the mountains and deserts from the southwest, Drainage from the teeming rains can cascade into the canyons and arroyos, pulling in everything on its way. These can be things like boulders, trees, and other elements. Animals and sometimes even people get caught, in the torrent of a flash flood that originates from a  thunderstorms.

Thunderstorm Identification

Thunderstorm clouds are normally called cumulonimbus. This is an extensive towering cloud, often growing on top getting an anvil form. Most commonly shows with a dark color and seems threatening if you look from below. It seems very white if you see it from one side with some distance.

Protect Your Life

  • Be alert of the sky all the time, keep an eye for thunder or lightning in close areas and hills.
  • Check constantly for weather reports on the radio.
  • Try to camp on high terrain but be careful with exposed peaks and ridges.
  • Procure to avoid deep canyons and be careful with dry washes when the weather seems threatening.

If you are in the middle of a hike and you have to deal with rain try to move to high terrain as soon as possible, make sure you get at least 30 to 40 feet above the canyon or ground where you are standing, stay away from the bottom of the dry wash.

If weather gets too harsh and you can’t move your car or vehicle leave it there and just get your survival kit with you, Don’t even think about returning to it, wait for the sky to clear and the weather to get friendlier.

Driving through flooded areas may not be the best idea. Leave your vehicle when you notice water is rising on the ground and go higher instantly.

Procure to have instructions from local authorities before you start your hiking. Abandon the place rapidly when warned. Lots of people have died mostly because they didn’t heed warnings or advice from authorities.

Let your friends know where you will be before leaving and when are you expecting to return so authorities can be called if you don’t return on time.