In News, Sports

By Todd Schacherl

Hiking in the desert is no joke, so take it seriously. Things can go from bad to worse very quickly, especially for the unprepared. Here are tips for hiking safely in the desert:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Drinking plenty of water before and during your hike will help to make hiking the desert enjoyable. Getting dehydrated can happen very quickly and with deadly consequences. Add ice to your water bladder and freeze a bottle of Gatorade, which is one of the few drinks you can freeze without breaking the bottle. Nothing better than being able to sip on cold water in the desert heat.

Hike Early or at Night

Starting a hike at 6 a.m. can allow someone to hike several hours and be done before the day gets unbearably hot. Night hikes are super fun. There aren’t any animals to be afraid of at night, and at night is the only time one can see things like ringtail cats. On a full moon night, it’s even possible to hike without any lights as the moon lights up the desert. Even with no moon and with some overcast, the lights of Las Vegas will reflect off the clouds and light up the desert.

Mount Charleston

Mount Charleston is a great option for day hikes during the summer. The temperatures are usually at least 15 to 20 degrees lower than in the Valley. However, Hurricane Hillary in 2023 destroyed many of the popular trails like Mary Jane Falls and Big Falls, but there are hikes to be had up there that are lots of fun like Raintree, Robber’s Roost and Fletcher Canyon.

Rattlesnakes

From May to about late October is when rattlesnakes come out from their winter slumber. It’s not unheard of to hike many years in this area and never see one or to see several in one year. It really depends on the chance factor, but one thing to keep in mind: Rattlesnakes rarely bite people and are usually very docile. Nonetheless, give them space and don’t antagonize them unless you want a big hospital bill.

Cars at Trailheads

Unfortunately, car break-ins are a fact of life these days, especially at Kraft Mountain parking lot and anywhere around Frenchman Mountain. The key is to make sure nothing is visible. Empty the glovebox and center console and leave them open for thieves to see that there is nothing to steal. Don’t leave any Bluetooth devices in your car, as thieves can look for that Bluetooth signal and know where it is in your car.

Ticks, Fleas and Mosquitoes

It used to be that we never had to worry about such pests, but they have become prevalent hiking in and around Las Vegas. They are most common in the spring when things tend to be more wet, but ticks now seem to be a year-round problem.

What to Wear and Bring

What to wear usually comes down to layers, even in the summer. In the summer, wearing a light long-sleeve shirt will help to protect your arms from the sun without having to wear sunscreen. Shorts are fine, but keep in mind, if bushwacking is part of the route, long pants help protect your legs from the scrapes from scrub oak and other prickly vegetation.

Most of the trails are very rocky, so good hiking shoes are a must to protect your feet. Trail runners are fine, but Vans and Chucks are probably not a good choice.

Most experienced hikers know about the 10 Essentials, and carrying them on hikes in this area are a must. There are lots of resources describing the 10 Essentials, so we won’t bother to list them here.

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