Ugh, I love Texas but I seriously hate the heat. Every summer, I ask myself why I subject myself to this weather. Then the sun sets, leaving a painting of oranges, pinks, yellows, and blues in the sky and I am reminded why.
We still love to get outside in the summers, despite the brutal heat. We just change our activities and routine a bit. We spend more time in the water and less time on the trails. When we do hike, we start EARLY. There is nothing worse than being on the trail when its 100 degrees outside. No thank you. The heat is no joke and people die every year due to poor planning, not knowing their own limits, and not knowing NATURE'S limits. Don't be one of those people! Here are some of the things that we do to stay safe and keep cool in the summers!
I mean, obviously swimming is the first thing on this list. Lucky for us, Texas is full of great places to take a dip to get some relief from the summer heat. Here are some of our favorites:
- Inks Lake State Park | Burnet
- Blanco State Park | Blanco
- Balmorhea State Park | Toyahvale
- Garner State Park | Concan
These places get busy in the summer, understandably so, so be sure to make reservations. I also recommend visiting during the week instead of weekends if possible!
If you've ever made the mistake of hiking on a summer afternoon (cough - ME - cough), you know how miserable it can be. Chugging down water to no avail as your thirst cannot be quenched, hot skin, pounding head. It's not fun. Don't be stupid like me and get yo ass out of bed and on the trail early in the day! Not only will you avoid the horrible Texas heat, but it's a great way to start the day and will put you in a good mood, almost guaranteed!
Hiking in the evening is another option, but the residual heat of the day is generally still radiating off the ground so it's not quite as cool as the mornings.
Hippie Air Conditioning
Googling 'hippie air conditioning' didn't give me any results so I wonder if this is a name we just made up back in the day... nevertheless, hippie air conditioning = a wet bandana around your neck. This has gotten me through many a music festival, beach sea turtle patrol, and long hike. Of course you can purchase the hi-tech cooling wraps, but why bother when a $0.50 bandana can achieve the same thing? If I'm hiking near a body of water, I will just dunk the bandana in as we pass by and replenish as needed with my water bottle if we don't pass by said body of water again. It really helps to cool you off and it feels amazing.
Another thing I do is dunking my cap in the water and plopping it on my head. I'm pretty sure the water dripping off of it makes me look like my fat ass is sweating horribly and on the verge of death, but that's okay because I feel nice and cool.
Wear Good Clothing
I'm guilty of wearing just plain old cotton tees when I go hiking, and that can be okay, but really in the summer it's preferable to wear something a little more breathable! You want something that is kind of loose fitting and light. Clothing made of technical material is a good choice, as it helps to wick moisture away from your body. Also, color can play a role in your temperature, too! Remember that black absorbs light and white reflects it, so lighter colored clothing helps to keep you cooler by reflecting those sun rays. In the heat, it's easy to assume that short sleeves are the way to go, but long sleeves are actually a better choice because they protect your skin from the harsh summer sun!
Drinking plenty of water is important on those hot summer days, especially when you're active and out on a hike. A good rule of thumb is to carry a liter of water per person per hour of hiking. Don't forget water for your pets, too! Hydration packs, like Camelbaks, are easy to carry and convenient and typically hold enough water for about three hours of hiking. We usually stick with our Nalgenes. When we bring the pups, we also carry collapsible bowls for easy drinking on the trail.
Know Your Limits
I cannot emphasize this enough. Knowing your limits is so important. Working for state parks, I hear about a lot of the search and rescues that happen around the Texas Hill Country in our parks, many of them completely avoidable. Be honest with yourself about what you are physically capable of in terms of weather, length, terrain, and level of difficulty. If you're a little out of shape and haven't been doing much exercise, don't try to go climb Enchanted Rock at 2PM in July. I mean, really, I'm not sure I'd even recommend that for someone in great shape.
There is no shame in opting for an easier route, a shorter trail, or modifying a hike to meet your own needs. Safety is the most important thing and you'll still feel great that you got outside. Plus, your local park rangers will thank you for being smart and safe while exploring the park!
And of course, it's always nice to have a special treat when you reach that hard earned view at the end of the trail. For us, it's a cold Rambler - this is not sponsored by them or anything (but hey Rambler - hit me up!), they are just super refreshing, a Texas company, and they support Texas State Parks! Plus, even Lily loves them! Kid tested, Texas approved!