I have a tendency to surround myself with people who are crazy enough to love the heat of summer – in Phoenix – people who actually don’t seem to mind hiking in the inferno. Granted, we do hike at 5:30 in the morning when it’s “cool.” “Cool” in this context is defined by its comparison to the high temperature of around 110F during the day. But do you remember the origin of the city name Phoenix? After a summer-time race up Sunrise Trail it’s not hard to identify with the bird that catches fire and is reborn from its ashes.
I escaped for a little while to Colorado during the week of the fourth of July and got some perspective on the whole “it’s a dry heat” notion when I saw people clearly feeling it at 90F during the holiday festivities. Oh right, I remember – 90F is actually not a lovely temperature for fall. It’s hot. It’s actually, really, hot.
Of course since we were so close to the continental divide we were drawn to a little peak bagging adventure. We hiked up to just over 14,000 feet, where the temperature was truly glorious. And the funny thing is, despite feeling some of the typical effects related to the altitude, I felt strong. My muscles weren’t twitchy and cramping. I wasn’t feeling heavy and lethargic. Before arriving in Colorado I had been struggling on our much more mild fitness hikes, and I was starting to wonder whether I’d manage to walk up one 14’er. In fact I managed to take on a 14’er combo.
It’s not my intention to discourage desert hikers during the summer, but I hereby grant you permission to feel like it’s pretty tough. And I implore you to keep it safe. Those warnings about dehydration should be taken seriously. Pop electrolyte pills if necessary – I certainly do. Stay safe, stay cool, and look on the bright side – you can skip your hot yoga class and just head to the hills for a hike!