Friday, 22 July 2011

Summer Walking

The summers high temperatures mean that walking can be arduous if not dangerous. Rather than offer a particular route this month I thought it would be useful to offer some advice to those who will still want to get out walking in the mountains and hills over summer

Obviously the key issues we face it over heating and sunstroke which can easily ruin not just a days walking but can also cause longer term problems. So what can we do to keep cool ?

Even in summer there are cooler days so keep and eye on the forecast and avoid the hottest days whenever possible. Attempt to get out as early in the day as possible, if you can do the bulk of any ascent in the earlier part of the day you can make use of the cooler and perhaps shadier part of the day.

When out walking take plenty of water. I carry a two litre water bladder or
‘’rehydration system’’ to give it its correct name. These tuck away in your rucksack and allow you to sip water whenever you take even the shortest break. I also carry a water bottle so that at longer breaks I can have one or two bigger gulps to refresh myself more fully. It might sound like a lot of weight , a litre of water weighs a kilo, but what you must remember is apart from some food and perhaps a thin jacket this may all be you need to carry and it will get lighter as you go.

After the example of a client I took out some time ago I also leave a flask of cold water in the car for my return. That way I know I can finish the water I am carrying and still have some in reserve at the end of the day.

Choice of clothing clearly affects you temperature. Personally I cover up as much as possible and find it cooler to walk in thin pants and a shirt than T shirt and shorts.
This also helps reduce the need to be constantly applying sun creams and also avoids picking up tics if you are walking through vegetation. My final piece of attire is a sun hat covering up the ever growing bald spot.

Finally route choice is critical. One idea is to get high for example by using the cable car and chair lift from the ski village above Granada which lift you to about 2,800m where you can explore the higher mountains.

Another option is to follow the gorges and streams found in the foothills and lower ranges of the area. Perhaps the most famous route is the Rio Monachil near Granada. Here you follow the rio using suspension bridges and narrow ledges through rocky defiles and natural rock tunnels passing waterfalls and inviting rock pools. Its great fun and offers a cool alternative for those wanting a bit of adventure during the summer heat.