Can anyone tell me why some people think that jogging and/or hiking in the sweltering Arizona heat is “cool?”

When tourists visit the Phoenix area in July & August, the first thing they do is schedule a hike up Camelback Mountain, South Mountain or Piestewa Peak, but they are not alone.  Residents hike and jog regularly in these “hot spots” all through the year and totally ignore the weather because, after all, Phoenix has great weather for outdoor sports, BUT not in the heat of the summer.

More people hiking in the heat, becoming injured, dehydrated, or disoriented, and have to be rescued by the Phoenix Fire Department 200+ times a year. Trekking up trails becomes increasingly difficult for rescue teams due to heavy equipment and remote locations that need to be accessed in high temperatures.

Last summer 12 firefighters were sent home for heat-related issues after doing three back-to-back rescues on both mountains. Two of the firefighters ended up being hospitalized with acute renal failure from dehydration and exhaustion.

A group of women, residents of Tennessee, California and Alabama, who hiked in Echo Canyon for a religious reality show called “Bad Girls Gone God” had to be airlifted or rolled down the sweltering peak last Thursday.

Eight women in total needed assistance from firefighters getting off Camelback Mountain as temperatures were above 100º. The hikers were unprepared and did not bring enough water with them, according to local outlets.

The hikers were being filmed embarking on strenuous activities in an attempt to get closer to God, and said they chalked up the elaborate rescue to divine intervention.

Not only do people who are unexperienced and ill-prepared hikers put themselves at risk, but they risk the lives of the rescuers.

Here are some tips when venturing out on the trails, according to Phoenix Parks and Recreation:

  • Watch the Weather: Yes, “it’s a dry heat” — but Arizona’s temperature can be deceiving and deadly. Hike when it’s cool outside, try early mornings and evenings when there’s more shade.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear proper shoes, clothing, hat, and sunscreen.
  • Bring Water: Hydrate before you go. Have plenty of water, more than you think you need. Turn around and head back to the trailhead before you drink half of your water.
  • Keep in Contact: Carry a mobile phone.
  • Team Up: Hike with others. If hiking solo, tell someone your start and end times, and location.
  • Be Honest: Do you have a medical condition? Asthma, heart problems, diabetes, knee or back problems? Don’t push yourself! (Even trained athletes have been caught off guard by getting dehydrated on Arizona trails.)
  • Don’t Trailblaze: Enjoy the Sonoran Desert’s beautiful and undeveloped landscape, but please stay on designated trails.
  • Take Responsibility: Don’t be “that person” — the one who wasn’t prepared, shouldn’t have been there for health reasons, or ignored safety guidelines. Be the responsible hiker, who takes a hike and does it right!

I am sharing this information as a community safety announcement.  My only comment is to think ahead, be safe and don’t do anything that would cause you to say, “I should have or should not have done this!”