I just watched the first episode of Homemade Wanderlust 2017 PCT hike. It takes place in the first days of her being on the trail. The views and plants and landscape are unbelievable. I live in the desert and had certain expectations of what the first days on the PCT would be like. Now I am excited. They are nothing like we have here. I have driven through and flown over Southern California, and I do know that there are places that will be like where I live. But, to know that the starting is going to be beautiful and different from home is exciting.
I am a fair weather hiker, so I will have to be sure to do some hot hikes in the year before I take on this hike. Right now I am thinking of this summer. I know I was out of shape and not prepared, but it was upsetting that I had problems. The first hike, I got hot because I was over dressed. I was drinking a lot of water, but that wasn’t enough. As I hiked, my stomach just felt worse until I actually puked along the side of the trail. I have felt sick to my stomach before, but I didn’t know what was causing it. I actually thought that it was because of eating heavy food and hiking right after. It was the suspicion on this hike as well, and the next. The following month, I was hiking in Tahoe and climbing all day, in and out of shade. I was dressed appropriately. I was conscious of what I ate at lunch and for snacks. I sipped on the water instead of drinking large amounts as I went. I still felt sick to my stomach. The thought then was that there might be something about climbing that is causing the discomfort. We were climbing the other two times I was sick to my stomach.
But, when we were hiking on the Californian Immigrant Trail in the Forty Mile Desert, I learned how I react to the heat. At first it was great. Then I could feel myself getting tired. I was drinking along the way but not great quantities (later I would learn that I didn’t drink as much as I thought). The temperature was in the high 90s to low 100s. The sun was bright, and there was no shade. I knew I was overheating. Even with my hat and my SPF shirt, I was feeling like I was cooking. By the time we got to shade, I was feeling that same old nausea feeling again. I sat in the shade and drank water as I could. I was weak and tired. I ate a bite of sugar and protein to get my strength back. I drank more water. Then we decided to go. We were only a mile from the car and air conditioning. My steps were slower than normal, and I was weak. My cousin was worried that I wouldn’t make it back to the car. He knew he couldn’t carry me, and there was no way he could get the car closer. I made it though. I wasn’t going to get stuck out there.
Back at the car, we were putting things into the trunk and remembered the partial gallon of water that I keep in there. My cousin poured it over my head which cooled me down considerably even though it was warm water. Luckily there was a slight breeze. I was back to normal after a few hours of drinking water and sitting in air conditioning.
That was my first experience with heat exhaustion even though I grew up in the desert. Looking back at the other hikes and this one, I wonder if the upset stomach came from heat rather than the other reasons I came up with. I will work on hiking more during the heat instead of hiding in the house or choosing cool hikes. I will be conscious of drinking more water as I hike. I will let myself cool off if I feel I am getting too hot. Hopefully, I will be able to handle the heat better in the future.