Should I still hike in the heat?
July 22, 2010 4:22 PM   Subscribe

It's going to be 98 degrees and humid in the NYC area this Saturday (NPR says it will feel like 104 degrees). I'm supposed to go on an eight-hour hike on Bear Mountain/Stony Point. Is this safe? Advisable? Is there any chance it would still be pleasurable?

I know it will be a few degrees cooler on Bear Mountain, but it can't get all that much cooler. I paid some cash to go on the hike (it's sponsored by a club and provides transportation) and have been looking forward to it, but I'm not sure this is a good idea.
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total)
Sure, if you go at about 5 am and are done by 9 or 10. Anything else and it's gonna be pretty miserable.
posted by TheBones at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2010

It could possibly be enjoyable if you dress super-light, and bring little more than food and water. Even better if the food you bring doesn't take up space after you eat it.
posted by ejfox at 4:29 PM on July 22, 2010

Response by poster: Nope. The plan is 10-6. I'd planned to do the hike with a friend. The fee is non-refundable. She's telling me I'm freaking out and that it will be cooler on the mountain.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:30 PM on July 22, 2010

It will be cooler on the mountain. You'll be fine, I'd do it.

A few summers ago, well, more than a few now, I took an NYC architecture course over the august. It was 5 hours everyday walking around some part of the city and the temps were always 100-110+. I drank grips of water. It wasn't the most fun I'd ever had, but it was survivable.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:34 PM on July 22, 2010

Usually exertion is advised against during hear warnings, but if you must I found this interesting page with advice on hiking in high heat and humidity.

Pay attention to yourself. Symptoms of heatstroke:

* headache
* dizziness
* disorientation, agitation or confusion
* sluggishness or fatigue
* seizure
* hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
* a high body temperature
* loss of consciousness
* rapid heart beat
* hallucinations
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:38 PM on July 22, 2010

I would do it, with lots of water, but I'm used to the heat. I think it comes down to how acclimated you are to it.
posted by zinfandel at 4:48 PM on July 22, 2010

It's not going to be as hot on the mountain. I'd go.

Then again, I was raised in Arizona.
posted by hermitosis at 4:56 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: You probably already know this, but: sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen. On every exposed surface, like the tops of your ears and your ankles and the part in your hair if you have one. Re-apply every two hours or so. (If you've got the spray kind, spray it away from your fellow hikers so you don't overwhelm them with fumes.)

Since it's a club, it sounds like you'll be with people who know what to look out for and have first aid equipment and everything, right? If that's the case, you'll be extra-fine.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:08 PM on July 22, 2010

I would do it. Bring lots o water. It will be in shade too. Bear mountain is neat. Even if you do not climb the mountain, there is a park, a pond, skating rink (winter, natch), and a decent place to hang in nature, picnic without the hike. Go for it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:16 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: OK, look, people in most of the world do this every day and have for centuries - no, millinia. Now days they do it behind lawn mowers and combines, they used to do it behind oxen and plows or chasing elephants. So your real question is, 'is it safe for you?", and you didn't give us the data to answer that one. However, if you are generally in good shape, and could do this hike comfortably at 80f, you can do it at 100f if you take precautions and aren't a fool.

If the sun is going to be bright, and you aren't already very tanned are dark, use lots of goop and long sleeves and long pants. Really sunburn will suck everything out of you, and have you ever noticed how the old miners in old westerns always dressed? there is a reason for those clothes (even the kerchief around the neck). And, oh!, don't forget the hat!!

Drink lots of water. Really, I know people can drown in water, but I don't think it has ever happened on a hot day with water from a bottle.

Take breaks. not every five minutes, your just dragging it out that way, but often. Hiking isn't a competitive sport unless you make it one, and that's a whole 'nother thing.

I've had outdoor jobs along the gulf coast and hiked through Big Bend. You can handle a hot day in NY. BTW, the first sign of dehydration isn't always a dry mouth, sometimes it's a headache or dizziness or week arms. Sit down in the shade and chug that water, baby, chug.
posted by Some1 at 5:24 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: I live in the Shawangunk Mountains (about 1 hr north of Bear Mountain) and I went hiking in the Mohonk Preserve/Minnewaska State Park area last weekend, when it was actually cooler than the forecast for this weekend. It was WORK (but then, I'm not in the greatest of shape). Bear Mountain is not particularly high as mountains go, and is pretty heavily forested. It's going to be cooler than NYC, but not THAT much cooler.

My advice? Bring lots of water (A camel pak is advisable) & energy bars. Also, don't be afraid to stop and rest, even if your club insists on pushing on. A good hike leader is smart enough to set an easy enough pace for everyone to follow, but keep a trail map handy, so that you can make arrangements to meet up with the group later if you find yourself physically not up to the challenge.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:25 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: Nth ing it won't be as hot on the mountain (I'm on the Hudson north of the city and it is always soo much cooler here - my guestimate is about 10 degrees - not as much concrete and buildings and people to absorb the heat and plenty of trees for shade. Plus a nice breeze off the water.)

Also, this is a tour group, they shouldn't risk your health, but if you're that worried, call them and tell them you didn't sign up for this weather (the key phrase will have something to do with your health in the heat) and see if they'll give you a refund, or let you postpone until it is cooler. Other than that, wear light clothing, use sun screen and bring plenty of water.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:27 PM on July 22, 2010

Lots of water. Breathable (tech) clothes- no cotton, if you can help it.

Get there before 10am. Bear Mountain gets crowded.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:18 PM on July 22, 2010

Best answer: After a friend's son was hospitalized for dehydration as a result of a soccer game, I learned an interesting tidbit - dehydration is less a reflection of what you've had to drink that day and more a reflection of how you hydrated in the few days before. So start drinking now!
posted by cecic at 6:36 PM on July 22, 2010

I lived near Bear Mountain. It should be a lot cooler. Bring a lot of water and a hat.
posted by fifilaru at 8:44 PM on July 22, 2010

I guess it depends on the trail. In that kind of heat, the army recommends as little as 10 minutes working 50 minutes resting per hour for hard work.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:32 AM on July 23, 2010

Best answer: Do the hike, but listen to what your body tells you. Of the two types of heat stroke, sedentary and exertional, the one with the higher mortality rate is the latter, which often affects healthy, well hydrated people who push themselves past what their bodies can support.

Heat exhaustion makes people wish they could die. Heat stroke accomplishes it. Take it very seriously.

That said, it really should be safe if you don't push it. Don't wait to become thirsty before you drink. (Our thirst mechanism is inefficient in hot weather.) Eat small nibbles of a salty snack at intervals. If you carry an electrolyte solution like Gator-Aid, mix it half-and-half with water.

And remember to brag about it later on.
posted by wjm at 2:36 AM on July 23, 2010

I hiked the Grand Canyon for 2 days in August. I had a shit-ton of water, lots of trailmix / powerbar type snacks, wore a binkini top and jean shorts, greased myself with sunlotion every 58 seconds, and wore a wet bandana around my neck and my head.

It wasn't bad. really.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:01 AM on July 23, 2010

So, how did it go?

For future reference, and those looking at this question, here's what I would do, and I do hike in this weather, in the same location.

For an 8 hour hike in this kind of weather, with that kind of humidity you'll want to make sure you're wearing NO cotton. Synthetic base layers only, or merino wool - that includes socks (go with smart wool's lightest weight). You need to be wearing stuff that wicks moisture away from the body.

And you'll need somewhere between 4 and 6 liters of water, and around 100 calories per mile that you're hiking.

Make sure that when you're peeing, it's clear, if it's not really light or clear, you're dehydrated and you need to stop, rest and drink lots more water.
posted by jardinier at 11:32 AM on July 26, 2010

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