Warm weather and outdoor exploring are here (or just on the horizon depending on Nevada weather whimsy). Hiking around on our Sierra Nevada trails, and even around our county parks, is great exercise and great fun, especially if you keep yourself safe and injury free.
Before heading, make sure that you are physically capable of going on a hike. If you suffer from arthritis or other joint conditions, check with your doctor first. Here are a few tips to help you prevent injury before it happens and keep your outdoor exploits enjoyable experiences.
Even the most experienced hikers can get blisters on their feet. Unfamiliar terrain and inclines add more stress to footgear. Wear sturdy shoes that fit well (not flip flops or sandals) and performance sports socks. Found in any sporting goods store, performance socks are made of wicking material, fit snugly (loose material bunches up) and may have extra cushion.
Another common injury on hiking trails is skinned knees or elbows that occur when we neglect to watch the ground or our surroundings. Tree roots and loose rocks can cause slips and falls and branches can scrape the face and neck. You can always pack a small first-aid kit, but being aware of your surroundings is #1.
You can do more than skin up a knee if you trip or slip on the trail. Sprained ankles and knee injuries can result from a fall on uneven terrain. Prevention through attention – note your surroundings and step with care because limping back or having to be carried a few miles to civilization is a drag.
We are pretty lucky when it comes to bugs in the high desert, but depending on where your hike takes you, you can run into any manner of flying, stinging creature. Apply bug spray if hiking near water or in any area you know has biting insects. If you have a severe insect allergy, you should always carry appropriate emergency medicine (i.e. epi pen).
Sunburn is always a danger in the High Sierra, even on a cloudy day. Always apply sunscreen before you begin your hike, and re-apply sunscreen periodically during the day. Pay special attention to re-application after sweating a lot or getting wet in streams or waterfalls.
We live in a dry climate and dehydration can happen faster than you think, even on a short hike. Prehydrate–drink before you start. Many experts say to drink 8 ounces every mile, with water at the end of the hike. Wearing a Camelback type hydration system is one of the easiest ways to carry a volume of water.
Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.