The Dangers of Hiking in High Temperatures


Hiking pic

Teresa Bailey-Weirich is an experienced retail and commercial real estate consulting professional who has served in executive positions with Key Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wachovia Bank, and other Fortune 500 companies. Beyond her real estate industry activities, Teresa Bailey-Weirich enjoys staying active by hiking.

One of the most important aspects of hiking safety is to be fully aware of one’s physical limitations. For example, it can sometimes be a wise decision to postpone a hike or choose a different or shorter route in response to unusually high daytime temperatures. There are several steps an individual can take in order to stay safe and comfortable during a hike in hot weather, such as wearing moisture wicking clothing and making sure to stay hydrated, but sometimes the potential for heat exhaustion and related conditions is too great.

The body may react negatively to heat in a variety of ways during a hike, such as vomiting, headaches, pale skin, and cramps. Any individual who experiences these or similar symptoms should immediately stop hiking, hydrate, and rest, ideally in a cool, shaded area, until the symptoms dissipate. Hikers who ignore the symptoms for heat exhaustion are at elevated risk for heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition.

There is no definitive temperature at which a hiker is guaranteed a safe, straightforward day on the trail, nor is there an extreme temperature at which heat exhaustion becomes unavoidable. Instead, hikers must use common sense and pay close attention to any signals their bodies are sending that might be telling them they are doing too much.

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