I have a post-mortem to add to the weekend's St. Patrick Day reporting: it was also the official opening day for rattlesnake season here in Arizona.
Ireland's patron saint got rid of their snakes; for us, it's warm green beer at spring training ballparks.
While we enjoy the last few weeks of the nation's best weather, be aware that the heat and the snakes are coming back to a park near you!
Yesterday, Glendale and Peoria firefighters rescued a 53- year old man who went into cardiac arrest while hiking at Thunderbird Park, a particularly lovely place to play, picnic, stroll, and hike. It isn't clear what actually triggered this, as he had only gone about a half mile. He was hiking alone. Lucky for him, a couple of nurses, including a cardiac nurse, were among the weekend hikers nearby. I'm not sure how quickly they came upon him, but they were in time to call 911 before it was too late for him, and start CPR. He is said to be in critical condition.
I'm not saying not to hike, even as it gets hotter outside By all means, go ahead and hit the hiking trails on our gorgeous mountains and in our desert. Just hike smarter!
Even if you aren't going for the summit at then end of your trail, bring "enough" water with you. What's "enough" water? That depends on the length of time you plan to hike and the temperature. At the very least, carry twice the amount you'd normally drink during the time you're out hiking. Gatorade and other replenishment drinks are ok to use early on, but stay with water later in the hike. Bring snacks with high water content, such as cucumbers and fruit.
Now for the snakes. The best way to avoid snakes is to stay on the trail! They aren't interested in meeting you. If you do see a snake, leave it alone. Don't bother it with a stick or throw a stone at it. Rattlesnakes in particular can strike from a distance. And before you take a sitting break, look around for snakes and scorpions, especially under the rocks around you.
A lot of people hike alone. If you prefer solo hikes, be sure to carry a cellphone. There are cellphone towers all over Phoenix so you are way more likely to get a signal. Also, be sure to tell someone where you will be and for how long. If they don't hear back from you at a designated time, they should alert the local rangers.
Yes, it sounds dramatic but so are heart attacks on the trail.
For more information, check out the Related Topics at left and visit ArizonaHiking.org.