As I write this article, we’re approaching the hottest weekend, potentially, on record. It’s going to be so hot that I will do my best to hide indoors and play video games as much as possible. And, there’s no shame in that in my book; to go outside and do anything in this weather borders on insanity. My outdoor activities stop near the beginning of June and they don’t start again till September. If you’re braver than I am, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, hydrate! If you stay in the heat all day, you need to drink at least 32oz of water every 2 hours; not soda, water. Water is still the best way to hydrate; if you find it boring, mix is some Gatorade powder which will also replenish electrolytes. Electrolytes are important, because if you drink too much water you can actually come down with hyponatremia which can be as bad as dehydration. Personally, I like to freeze a half-full Nalgene bottle the night before and fill the remainder with water the day of so it will melt while hiking, kayaking, lawnmower racing, etc.
While fashion isn’t your concern, you should be aware of what you’re wearing while on your adventures. A black t-shirt and jeans is obviously not the most comfortable thing to wear, but a long sleeve shirt and long pants are sometimes the most practical. The less skin that you leave exposed, the less your risk of heat stroke, and it actually can help you keep cooler if the material is synthetic. In humid conditions, a synthetic shirt (polyester, lycra, etc) wicks away sweat from your body which helps the evaporation process which, in turn, keeps you cooler. If you wear cotton, your pooled sweat will just stick to your body and the ambient humidity will stop it from evaporating so you won’t cool off. However, if you’re in a place with very little humidity such as Arizona or Africa, cotton is actually your best friend. Now, when it traps what little bit of sweat you do have, it actually helps the evaporative process by stretching out the evaporative period. Unless you’re out west or further abroad though, wear synthetics whenever possible. Hats are another good idea, especially the wide-brimmed ones that keep the sun off you even more.
If cabin-fever is too much to take, and you have to escape on a trip somewhere, my only suggestion would be to head to higher elevations. On average, temperature drops 1 degree every 300ft of elevation you gain. Heading to Mount Mitchel State Park, at 6,600ft, should be almost 22 degrees cooler than anywhere else and most of Pisgah national park is above 3,000ft so you should get a bit of relief. It’s also cooler near rivers and lakes which have the added benefit of letting you go for a dip. Usually I prefer a place that combines both like Lake Santeetlah or Lake Fontana near the Smokies or Lake Jocassee in South Carolina. Dreher Island State Park, located on Lake Murray, gives you over 78 square miles of water to paddle and fish on. Lake Murray, when it was built, was the largest man-made reservoir in the world, and still features one of the world’s largest earth filled dams; there’s open water big enough for you to lose sight of land over the horizon and for sea-like conditions if a storm rolls in.
If you don’t want to go out in the heat no matter what, I find it’s a good time to organize my gear. Instead of just throwing everything into one massive Rubbermaid, I actually prepack most of my gear so when the weather finally cools down, I just have to toss a few things together and I’m ready to go.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to finish “National Parks: America’s Greatest Idea” on Netflix while I wait for the sun to stop punishing us.
Amish in the sense that, at one point, my family helped others raise barns.
Now I build websites to help others build their businesses.