A Guide to Hiking with your Dog

A Guide to Hiking with your Dog

Dogs are a natural fit for joining you on your hiking and backpacking adventures. Let’s face it, most dogs love to be outside. The sights, the smells, the sounds… did I mention the smells!? Just like you, your dog will benefit from the exercise, fresh air and can keep you in good company on the trail. Conditioning – including puppies It’s best to allow puppies to fully develop their bones and joints prior to starting any long distance hikes. Short day hikes are generally okay but you should avoid high impact activities and long miles. When will they be old enough? Probably sometime around a year old but it really depends on the breed and the best answer is to consult with your vet. For adult dogs, conditioning is not much different than it is for humans. Start small, build mileage and weight. Your dog’s strength and stamina will build and his paw pads will toughen up. Remember, your dog can’t say when they’re tired and sore. You’ll have to watch for signs: Licking feet – are his pad’s injured or irritated? Excessive panting, stopping, lagging behind – is he getting overheated? Find some shade and work on hydration. Cooling products can also help. A tucked tail Your dog’s tail is always a good indicator of their state. Up and wagging? He’s probably doing well. Tucked between the legs? It might be time for a break. Permits and regulations Know the necessary permits and regulations before you head out. Are dogs allowed? Not in most National Parks but most other Federal Land is fair game. Be sure to check...
6 Myths About Heat

6 Myths About Heat

Hot weather in Indiana is, let’s face it, frequent. On those hot and humid summer days, it’s brilliant. There’s great joy to be had in strolling around in the forest pretending you’re actually somewhere like the tropics. But high temperatures and the burning sun also come with dangers. Heat exhaustion and the much more serious heat stroke can strike with surprising ease and rapidness – particularly if, like most, you’re not really used to it. Perhaps because of our lack of familiarity with that big yellow ball in the sky, people’s grasp of the dangers posed by hot weather is not always perfect. We debunk some of the more popular myths and give you some tips to embrace the heat and sun safely. Myth 1: The sun can’t harm me From time to time we’ve all forgotten that the sun is still a gigantic ball of UV-emitting nuclear fire, even in Indiana. Some basic tips: a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen is best as they won’t dribble off after five minutes of sweating uphill, but even these need to be reapplied eventually after enough perspiration. A hat with a wide brim will protect your face and shoulders and provide shade. For other clothing, think loose, light garments like zip-off summer trousers and long-sleeve button shirts. In the long days of summer, early starts and late finishes with a shady rest during the heat of the day can be a simple way to enjoy the hills in peace and comfort. You also get to see more wildlife early and late because animals are far more sensible than we are. Myth 2:...
Dealing with Heat on a Hike

Dealing with Heat on a Hike

Summer means preparing yourself for hiking in hot weather. Dealing with heat is a fact of life and not just on desert trails. High humidity can send the heat index (how hot the combination of air temperature and relative humidity feels to your body) well above 100 degrees, even in northern parts of the country. So no matter where you live, it’s critical that you pay attention to weather conditions before you head out for a day of summer hiking. Other than simply not hiking, there’s no way to completely eliminate the risks. But you can greatly reduce the dangers by taking basic precautions. Planning Ahead Pay attention to weather forecasts Sites like Weather.com let you check forecasts by location and ZIP code. The site offers hourly temperature predictions for the current day and every three hours for the following day. Don’t be overly ambitious A hot day isn’t the best time to finally do that 10-miler with 2,000 feet of climbing. If you’re intent on getting out, scale back your expectations and save the tough trails for another day. Choose the right hike If you live in an area with topographical variation, look for higher elevation trails. Hikes along the coasts or other large bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes, will also be cooler than inland trails. Hike early in the day Temperatures can easily be 20-25 degrees cooler in the morning than in the afternoon. The day will cool off toward sunset but temperatures will still be much hotter than in morning. Avoid the most intense sun Direct sun will increase heat-related stresses and the risk of sunburn. Try to...
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