Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Hiking the Panamint Dunes in Death Valley National Park

January 10, 2012

Photographer in the remote Panamint Dunes in Death Valley

The Panamint Dunes are the most remote set of large dunes in the park. They are also the least visited set of dunes in the park. It’s about a 4 mile one way hike and most of the hike is relatively moderate until you reach the sand and uphill on sand begins. You’ll begin to move a little slower this way. A high clearance vehicle is recommended for the dirt road to access the dunes north of highway 190 in the Panamint Valley. The turn off is easy to miss but it’s a few miles east of Panamint Springs and you can easily find it on a park map. At the end of the road there is a small parking area. From here you walk across the alluvial fan towards the dunes, there is somewhat of a foot path but no trail so keep in mind the angle of where you parked the car. A compass should help you find your car if it gets dark and you can’t make out the mountains near telescope peak.

What I liked about this hike, for the most part you walk through mostly creosote the whole way you’ll end up smelling like the Mojave Desert when you get back. On the dunes instead of human footprints you’re more likely to find lots of animal patterns and birds landing on the dunes to eat a bug or two, maybe even a few birds of prey. I’ve seen a golden or two in my travels here. You’ll also encounter a few fly byes of F-18’s from China Lake if you’re lucky. More so during the week, they’ve had control of the airspace before Death Valley was a National Park or Monument so we have to share the skies with them. Best of all you can enjoy one of the off the beaten path places in park with another view of Telescope Peak off in the distance. Snow on the peak give the scene a beautiful contrast to vastly open desert below.

Telescope Peak from the Panamint Dunes in Death Valley

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Hyperthermia in the Heat?

September 29, 2010
Hot Sand Box

"The Hot Sand Box" Sometimes it can be too hot out to be hiking.

You don’t have to be in the desert to experience hyperthermia, Sally Menke, an Oscar-nominated film editor known for her association with director Quentin Tarantino, was found dead in Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. She went for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains on the hottest recorded day in Los Angeles history where the temperature reached 113. Without any signs of foul play the cause of death could be hyperthermia, police have not given a cause of death yet. The film industry has lost a great person, I was a fan of much of here work. My condolences go out to her family and everyone that she was close to.

Do you know the difference between hypothermia and hyperthermia? If you do the difference the title doesn’t make sense but your average person may not know the difference. Hypothermia causes symptoms such as shivering and mental fatigue and confusion due your body’s core temperature dropping below safe levels. Hyperthermia can cause heat cramps and heat stroke. Can you treat your own heat stroke? The answer to that is NO! At this point hopefully you have someone with you or someone knows where you are. Heat cramps are only a sign that you need to slow down your body’s loss of water and salts (electrolytes). You will always hear drink plenty of water but once your body’s core temperature rises to unsafe levels you need to rest and find shade.

It’s easy to lose water faster then you replenish it. Every breath you exhale your body loses precious water vapor. To avoid hyperthermia you may need to decide your health is more important then making it back to your car where your lunch is miles away. Heat stroke is very serious and fatal if not treated quickly. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal. Complications include shock and brain damage. If you are with some that may be experiencing a heat stroke call 911 or get help anyway you can!

"Desert Mirage" Keep aware of your mental state while hiking in the heat.

Here are a few tips to avoid hyperthermia.

• Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. Cotton dries slower then synthetics and keeps your body cooler if it worn loosely. It is also a good idea to wear larger brimmed hats or even use an umbrella.

• Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.

• Eat small meals and eat more often.

• While hiking avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.

• Carry a flashlight or GPS device to find your car in the dark in case you need wait for it to get cooler out.

• Don’t hike alone, hike with an experienced desert hiker if you can.

Hottest temps I've ever hiked in the Mojave Desert was 115°. Can you imagine how hot the water was in my camelbak? I lost more water then I could take it on that short afternoon hike.