Unfortunately, if you are banking on public water dispensers and drinking fountains working properly on a hot day, those located at public parks, you may be out of luck. They are unreliable. So, pack your own water.
On this Thursday morning, the day before the Fourth of July, it is sultry. Hurricane Arthur is making its way up the coast, and the humidity is increasing. Therefore, my hiking strategy is to follow the shade.
Doing that may require some zig zagging and knowing where the trees will cast a shadow at the time of your hiking.
Take a hike to see what I mean. Follow the slideshow.
“Your body functions best within a certain temperature range and when your body gets too warm, it needs to cool off. A couple of things happen to accomplish this. Your blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to the skin. This allows excess heat to radiate away from your body. You also start to sweat. Evaporation of the sweat cools the skin, which in turn helps to cool the whole body. Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration.
You sweat more when the temperature's hot, especially if you're working or exercising in the heat. Drinking water helps replenish the fluids lost by excessive sweating. If you don't get enough water, you may become dehydrated, and the combination of hot temperatures and dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses.”
Most trails have alternative routes that provide more shade during certain hours. Just remember where the sun is traveling and casting a shadow. Even at noon, trees provide 360 degrees of shade when you are directly underneath them.
A website called “Every Trail” describes hiking trails near Arlington Virginia: http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-arlington-virginia
On hot days, birds and animals remain active in the shade. Keep an eye out. Often, snakes and turtles are on the move when the weather is hot and dry.
Today’s hike took twice as long as normal because I had to slow the pace, and take time to drink water. I stopped once to sit in the shade. I snacked on a few fresh raspberries. I noticed that it will be a good harvest year for plums and apples, but you should not take fruit from private property. In addition, harvesting fruit, plants, and flowers in public parks is prohibited. So is panning for gold.
One good thing about urban hiking is that there is access to refreshments along the way. Still, it is a good idea to take your cell phone in the event of an emergency. If the emergency isn't yours, it may be to help someone who is less prepared.