By Ada Nuckels, Friends of the Desert Mountains
When temperatures even out in the Coachella Valley, residents and visitors venture out for hikes and other activities on our local trails. Whether heading out for a short walk, a few hours, or all day, ALWAYS carry these Ten Hiking Essentials.
- Hydration: The most important Essential is water, especially in the desert. Always carry more than you need, at least 2 liters.
- Nutrition: Extra food is a trail essential. Take high protein snacks instead of sugary candies.
- Sun Protection: Hats, Sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) can save you from the harsh desert sun.
- Navigation: Even with GPS-assisted smartphones, a physical map and compass are essential when batteries fail and signals are lost. Identify natural landmarks to orient yourself.
- Illumination: A flashlight or headlamp [and extra batteries] is essential in case you return after dark.
- Communication: It is easy to end up separated from one another during restroom breaks and side trips, especially in rocky desert terrain. Whistle sounds travel longer distances and are more noticeable than a shout. If you hear a whistle on the trail, signal back with
your whistle and head towards one another until you establish visual contact.
- Insulation: Even if hiking on a warm day, desert nights can easily drop below freezing. Bring extra clothing or emergency blanket.
- Multi-tool: Swiss Army- or Leatherman-style multitools can be lifesavers. Look for tools with a sharp knife, scissors, and tweezers.
- First-aid Kit: A small kit with bandages and other basics. Replace used/expired items.
- Comb & Mirror: You can style your hair, but we recommend a comb to treat the number one source of injury on desert trails: cactus spines. Use a comb to pull out cactus spines stuck to shoes or (ouch!) legs without using fingers. A mirror can signal for help in the daytime by reflecting sunlight.
By preparing for the unexpected, you can embark on desert adventures with extra confidence and safety.
Ada Nuckels is the volunteer Hike Program Leader at Friends of the Desert Mountains, located at 51500 Highway 74 in Palm Desert. For more information, go to DesertMountains.org or call (760) 568-9918.