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Downsides of hiking in a heat wave: Risk of sunburn and heat stroke, your back ends up soaked with sweat, you have to get up at the crack of dawn to enjoy comfortable temperatures on the trail.
Upside: Maybe you can just leave that stove at home.
For the past few weeks, the western US has been in the grip of a record-setting heat wave, with temperatures soaring into the triple digits. The southwest has gotten some of the worst of it, with temperatures at Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon cresting at 115 degrees.
To illustrate just how hot it is, rangers at Saguaro National Park near Tucson baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies inside a parked car this week. In a post on the park’s Instagram feed, park officials showed off the (somewhat flat looking) cookies and noted that in hundred-plus-degree heat, the inside of a car with a dark dashboard can quickly reach 180 degree Fahrenheit.
“Cookies are fun and all, but this heat is no joke,” the park wrote. “Do not leave any pets or children (or any living creature) in the car alone. It doesn’t take very long for heat stroke, brain damage, or worse to happen (not to mention it’s against AZ law).”
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This isn’t the first time that heat has turned a national park into an impromptu oven. In 2013, the park service posted a video showing an employee frying an egg in a skillet placed on the ground during a heat wave that saw temperatures rise to 120°F. After the clip went viral, the park service had to ask visitors to stop cracking eggs on the asphalt in an attempt to recreate it.
Funny cooking tips aside, this heat wave has had serious consequences for hikers. On June 20, park rangers in the Grand Canyon found a 53-year-old hiker dead on the Tonto Trail of suspected heat stroke. Another hiker died on June 19 in California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the middle of a 115-degree heat wave that left another hiker and a firefighter injured, while a third passed away on the Pacific Crest Trail.
If you plan on hiking in the heat, make sure to hydrate, dress appropriately, and know the signs and symptoms of heat illness.