Although the next couple of days will be more like spring, we have already seen temperatures in the 90s here in Phoenix. Mom saw on the news that several people have already required a rescue from local trails. We thought we should remind everyone of some hiking tips to keep you and your furry friend safe.
- Always confirm where you are going by looking at a map. Take a picture of it so you have the trail on your cell phone. This way, should you get confused, you have a visual to guide you. As someone who blogs about going on adventures, I can attest online directions can and often are incorrect. I can’t tell you how many times Arizona Highways was completely wrong! We aren’t perfect either, and we may leave out a minor detail that doesn’t matter to us but may get you off track. You are responsible for you and your pet. Know where you are going and how to get back.
- In that same vein when hiking, be aware of your surroundings. Look for natural markers that will help you. Know where you are in relation to a key marker like a cell tower or mountain top so you can always find your way back, even if you get off the trail.
- Know your limits and that of your canine companion. We have rescued and helped several people, and little puppies have no business on difficult trails. Should you have knee problems, bring your hiking poles with you every time to prevent an injury.
- Bring plenty of water. Every single time mom and I hike, we see someone out with ZERO water. Even if you are doing a short loop and feel you are in good condition, you bring water for the “what ifs.” What if you turn an ankle and have to wait for assistance? What if your dog gets overheated and needs a drink?
- Don’t go off trail. Trails are marked for a reason and often have protected terrain or wild life in the area. Also, going off trail increases your chances of encountering a snake. They tend to stay away from high traffic areas like trails, but they live in the desert. Don’t risk it.
- If you are hiking more than three miles, we encourage your human to carry a backpack with emergency supplies (ankle wraps, band aids, Advil, etc.). Again, Dad has used his several times to help others.
- Watch the weather. Before you go, know what the temperatures are doing. Here in Phoenix, several trails now forbid hiking over 105 degrees between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm. Never hike a dog over 100! Keep an eye on the sky, especially when up in high country. Storms can move in quickly, bringing rain and lightning with them.
- Be prepared for the hike. Up north, you might need to wear layers. Down here, you will want sun screen and a hat. Your dog may need booties, although I am a stinker and won’t wear them. We’ve used Musher’s Cream on my paws, and that helps. We live in rocky terrain with sharp cactus that requires sturdy hiking boots. Wearing flip flops is a recipe for disaster. Mom always has a pair of plyers with her in case I get stickers. They have come in handy.
- Know the rules of the trail and obey them. If a trail allows horses, give them the way. If you don’t know how your dog responds, keep them clear of the horses. Hikers have the right of way over bicycles, but they often can’t stop on a dime, so we usually give them space. There is NO smoking out in the desert. We shouldn’t have to mention this, but alas, we’ve seen people smoking on the trail. Please protect our beautiful state and keep cigarettes at home. Whatever you bring in, pack it out, and that includes doggy poop. There are no magic Fairies that come and clean up after your pooch.
- Enjoy nature and allow others to do the same. If you require music, please use ear buds. Your taste of music may not be ours, and pumping it out into nature is noise pollution. Drawing on rocks and carving trees isn’t creative art – it is vandalism, and it is a crime. We want our natural surroundings to be around for generations to come.
Did I miss anything essential, dear readers? I know some of you are avid hikers so chime in. This is a good start, I think. When we are prepared, equipped and informed, we can continue having wonderful adventures. Stay safe and have fun!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith, is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!