Practical Tips for Hiking the Sedona Rocks

~ Confidence & Stability on the Trail~

Lugs, Lugs & Lugs: The proper hiking shoe/boot cannot be over emphasized. As you are hiking the Sedona Red Rocks and the Grand Canyon you will be hiking on sandstone. Sandstone is a softer rock that creates impediment (small gravel and sand). A smooth bottom shoe is fine if you are hiking flat terrain…only one problem: there is not any flat terrain on the trail. Even the trails that show little to no elevation, you will still encounter arroyos (dry creeks) that will present varying degrees of incline and declines.

The three main components that differentiate a regular street shoe from a hiking shoe are the mid-plate, lugs, and spacing:

1) Mid-Plate: this is a puncture resistant plate that runs through the middle of the sole to protect the foot from bruising.
2) Lugs: outer sole made of “grippy” rubber with indentation or spacing for additional traction and stability. To some, it appears as ‘’teeth” on the bottom of the shoe.
3) Spacing between lugs: for the terrain here in the southwest we find that many footwear manufacturers get this part wrong. When hiking a sandstone descent you will typically find loose implement on the trail (sand, small gravel). That implement needs a place to go. Many companies build little to no spacing between the lugs therefore not giving the implement a place to go. Think in terms of a tire constructed for the street versus a tire constructed for off road use…spacing is imperative.

Hiking Stick & Trekking Poles: I never hike without a stick. If you want to increase confidence and stability on the trail while decreasing stress on your knees, back and hips then you will use a hiking stick or trekking poles. The majority of injuries occur while going downhill. When you lose control of your momentum, even for a split second while going downhill you will find it very difficult to regain that control. Once out of control the damage can be significant. Hiking sticks and trekking poles provide a level of stability and control unlike any other equipment on the trail.Think of them as your handrail in nature.

Hydration: While in the Southwest you must take hydration seriously. Because your sweat here evaporates so quickly it is virtually imperceptible of how much fluid you are losing throughout the day. Dehydration unlocks a plethora of ailments including: muscle cramps, major headaches, fatigue, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, acute mountain sickness, diminished decision making ability, performance and even death. Water quantities: Take at least 1 liter of water of per hour (Cooler months you can take .75 liters per hour). Sip water through the day before you get thirsty. Do not drink directly from streams or pools without filtering or treating the water.

Enemy of Hiking: The enemy of hiking is cotton! You need 3 things to form a blister– heat, moisture and friction. Cotton is one of the best materials for holding moisture next to your skin…there are little no “wicking” properties in cotton. As you hike your foot will sweat. As your foot sweats the skin will soften. You make a quick moment and hear comes friction, heat and then blister. Consider a sock made of wool/silk or “Coolmax.” Coolmax has quickly become one of the best synthetic wicking materials on the market.

Guidebook or Map: It is critical that you have a good map or book while hiking the trail anywhere!It is not difficult to get lost while on the trail. Having a good book or map will assist in orienting you in the event you get lost. While many will say that they are not good map readers, it is quite surprising how good you become when you get lost.

Sun Protection: At high altitude, the ultraviolet rays from the sun are more intense and therefore more damaging. Even when it is cloudy, the risk of sunburn is extreme. Before going out, protect yourself and your family from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Apply a sunscreen SPF 30 or more to your skin before beginning outdoor activities and every two hours while outside. To prevent sun injury to the eyes, wear sunglasses or goggles with UV protection. Consider wearing a long sleeve shirt to limit exposure on your arms.

Hypernatremia: For those hiking long distances or in extreme heat where you find yourself drinking significant amounts you water, you will need to supplement your intake with sodium and electrolytes. As you drink large quantities of water, it “washes out” or reduces the sodium levels in your cells causing an imbalance. This imbalance called Hypernatremia. Hyponeatremia is a serious ailment that can lead to confusion, decreased consciousness, hallucinations and even coma. Treating hypernatremia can be more difficult to treat than dehydration. Tips: replenish the body by taking electrolytes and take along “salty” foods such as trail mix or trail bars.

Note: If you have concerns about the trail and/or your level of preparedness for the trail then please stop by The Hike House and we can assist you with the proper information, gear and/or even a guide.