Frequently Asked Hiking Questions
Q: How long will my hike take?
Monitor the amount of time it takes you to get to any location; it can take twice that amount of time to cover the same distance going uphill. This "rule of thumb" seems to work well regardless of individual fitness, age and/or length of stride. Most hikers walk uphill at an average speed of one mile per hour. As a courtesy, give uphill hikers the right of way.
Q: Can I hike alone?
Risks are greater for those who hike alone. There is no one to assist you if you become lost, ill, or injured. Dangerous animals do inhabit some trail areas. Hikers traveling alone are at greater risk of attack. Be sure to keep your group together; a good plan is to have your most skilled members at the front and rear of your group with the novices in the middle.
Q: How much water should I drink?
Hiking in the summer months can be extremely dangerous and should be done so with extreme caution! During other months of the year, hikers should carry and drink about a gallon (4 liters) of water per day. Watch your "ins and outs". Drink enough so that urine frequency, clarity, and volume are normal. You are not drinking enough water if your urine is dark, small in quantity, or non-existent in the course of a day's hiking. In addition, eating adequate amounts of food will help you replace the electrolytes (salts) that you are sweating.
During warmer weather, your fluid/electrolyte loss can exceed two quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Because the air is so dry and hot, sweat evaporates instantly making its loss almost imperceptible. Do not wait until you start feeling thirsty to start replacing lost fluid. By the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Your body can absorb only about one quart of fluid per hour. Drink one-half to one full quart of water or sports drink each and every hour you are hiking in the heat. Carry your water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often.
Q: How much food should I take?
Plenty. Eating is equally important as water to hikers. Carry high-energy, salty snacks as well as meals. The hike out is much easier when you provide your body with enough calories to support the extreme physical activity you are engaged in.
Q: What if I feel winded, or fatigued?
A break of five to seven minutes every 30 to 60 minutes can remove approximately 20 to 30 percent of the waste products that have built up in your legs while hiking. Sit down and prop your legs up above the level of your heart and let gravity help drain these metabolic waste products out of your legs.
Q: What if I have a medical condition? Can I still go hiking?
Do not exceed your normal level of physical activity or training. If you have asthma, heart problems, diabetes, knee, back or any other health or medical problem, please limit your exertion and especially your exposure to the heat. The altitude, the strenuous climbing, dehydration, and the dry air, all combine to make any medical problem worse. Please stay within your training, physical limitations, abilities.