Safety Tip: Hiking in 97 degrees with a coke is not healthy.

My wife and I were hiking in Sedona Arizona this weekend. The hike we chose was one of the more scenic hikes, and one of the more challenging Sedona has to offer. We got to the top of Cathedral Rock around noon and the temp was roughly 85 with the breeze. We both had our Camelbak’s on and a granola bar for some refueling. The hike is roughly a 4 hour hike.

On our way down - almost to the bottom - we saw a man and a woman starting the Cathedral Loop trail. It was maybe 1:30 pm and the temp was probably close to a hundred at the base of the cliffs. The guy was wearing a black shirt and tight jeans the gal was wearing a long dress and a black shirt.

Normally, we’d walk by and say hello, enjoy your hike. However, we stopped after passing them and watched their path. They were headed up the large loop trail with only a liter of Coke. I usually mind my own business, but this was a situation that could turn dangerous quickly. Coke actually make you more thirsty (I do not have a cite) and is a poor way to hydrate yourself in this climate.

So I asked my wife to grab our reserve water bottle out of my pack, I was going to give it to them. I scurried up the side of the hill and caught up with them. I indtroduced myself, and said that I had noticed they only had a coke, and I asked if they were going to the top. They said yes, and yes. I offered the water I had broght, it was unopened, and said they may need it. Happily they took it, and heeded my advice for staying hydrated…

Would anyone have done any different? Was I in the wrong by asserting my self on them with an offering of water?

I know Sedona is a touristy place, but it can be very dangerous - especially hiking - without water…

As you know, I spend my teens and early-20s in the desert. It seems that many people who have not spent time in the desert don’t understand how quickly they lose precious bodily fluids there. I used to go to airshows as NAS (now MCAS) Miramar in San Diego. On a 104°F day out on the reflective concrete ramp, it can be dangerous. Corpsmen were always picking people up off of the ground and taking them in for aid. People just don’t seem to think about how hot, dry weather affects them. Good on you for giving them water.

Anecdote: I worked with a woman at Edwards AFB. Today she would be called a MILF. Totally hot. Anyway, I left EAFB to work in L.A. I looked into going back after a number of years, and chatted to a former co-worker about other former co-workers. He told me that this woman was dead. She had gone to Calico (home of the Ghost Town, near Barstow) and was collecting rocks. The heat got her.

Oh – The woman in the anecdote was a desert-dweller. She really should have known better. It’s not just the tourists who can be caught unawares.

You were very much in the right for offering these people water and advice that they’d be needing it.

FWIW, the question I ask perpetually at Faire when people are often having too much fun in the summer afternoon to notice that they’ve been sweating is "When’s the last time you went to the bathroom? If they can’t remember or it’s been much more than two hours, I park them in the shade, get them water and tell them not to move unless it’s to go pee.

Yes, you did a good thing! I’m queen of hydration even for walking around in the city in the heat. It’s not a good idea not to know where your source of water is going to be! I got heatstroke the first day I went apartment hunting for college, (in Perth, Western Australia) and that was just the suburbs, but I hadn’t realized that in that kind of heat you want to have water on hand if you’re going to be outside. It’s amazing how fast it can get to you.

Other obvious desert hiking rules include - cell phone, let someone know where you are going, try to hike with others, extra water and food in case you get lost.

I just read about a man who started a hike in the early AM in Sedona and did not realize how hot it was going to be that day. He was a regular hiker but still did not carry sufficient water. Ended up disoriented and lucky that someone found him. 8 hours later he was reunited with his hysterical wife and family.

Does anyone (not just Phlosphr) have a cite for this?

Will this do?

(diuretics make you pee more, a bad thing in this case)

Good job, Phlosphr.

I am a hiker, and a very hardy one at that. But when I do a desert hike, I typically carry more than 3 liters of water on me, with 7 gallons of water in my truck. I also carry a filter with me if there is the slightest chance of being able to use it. I do this if the hike is only a little 5 mile jaunt or a big 30 mile stomp.

It isn’t unusual for me to see others hiking my same trail with nothing more than a liter bottle of water. Yep, even for the big hikes. When I see that, I stop them and ask if they have more water, or if they would like some more. I know my own limits pretty well, and I almost always have water to spare. I figure it’s gotta be better for my karma to help out than to hope they will be ok.

Again, good job. You can hike with me any day. :smiley:

Coke makes me thirstier, no matter what its diuretic effects might be. It’s so sugary it makes me want to go get some water to cut the goo in my throat.

I’m not a hiker, but I’ve been in some brutal heat, and I hydrate like crazy if I have to be in it. This seems like common sense. I guess it’s not.

Actually, delete every word in the title up to and including “a” and it’s still pretty good advice.


I’ve taken one last long drink from a bottle and handed it over to people on their way up as I was on my way down in the Rockies 2 or 3 times now.

Landscaping in Denver learned me well about keeping hydrated. I would try to drink as much of a 2-liter bottle of water as possible in the morning, almost to the point of being sick. Then I would keep drinking all day long. I’d probably go through 6 liters of water, if not more, in a day. we also started work as early as possible to avoid the main heat of the day. 5:00 to 13:00 if the neighbors would let us start that early.

I love heat, and I miss hot, dry climates. So I sauna a lot now. Doing that I go throug 3 liters of water in no time.


Let me just add a parental note that kids dehydrate amazingly fast, and should always be pressed to drink even more than the large amounts their adults should be drinking. Last week the first aid shack sent a 4 year old to the hospital in an ambulance - change of conciousness, blood pressure of 60 over nothin’ (yep, nothin’ - Got an IV with bolus in him just in time) and a blood sugar of 350 'cause there was so little liquid in him to dilute the sugar.

He’d been playing in the swimming pool five hours earlier. And it was only in the 90’s, humid day.

There’s not much water in those tiny bodies, so when they’re exerting themselves or it’s sweaty time, they’ll dry up quickly. My kid wears a bottle on a hip holster and we’re always bugging him to drink water. I bug him every 15 minutes, every time I take a drink on my own and every time we stop to rest.

If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Here is a cite on the opposite side of the diuretic debate. Let’s be honest, drinking a Coke or a coffee isn’t exactly like drinking a refreshing cup of seawater. It may not be as rehydrating as a non-caffeinated drink, but it will not make you more thirsty or more dehydrated all on its own. I’ve gone through days where I’d drink almost nothing but coffee or caffeinated drinks, and I never wound up parched and dehydrated as a result.

Also, one should be cautious about drinking nothing but water for rehydration. There are numerous examples of marathon runners (usually amateurs) dying or nearly dying from screwing up their electrolyte balance with too much water. They get dizzy from the electrolyte problem and think the answer is more water. Far fewer runners get seriously ill from dehydration.

Definitely drink up, though I’d throw in a sports drink or two just for the salts.

Or do what the rennies (Rennaisance Fair workers) do and eat a pickle! What - did you think the “vegetarian sausage” vendors were there for your amusement? Not entirely - our regulations state that workers must consume 8 oz of water per hour and two salty snacks a day. :smiley:

(I loathe sports drinks. Like drinking salty bug juice. Ick.)

Chalk me up on this side of the debate. While I have a strong preference for water, whenever I am REALLY thirsty (say, after a hard night of drinking and waking up hungover), the only beverages that quench my thirst are ones with lots of sugar and, preferably, a bit of salt. Soda usually fits the bill. I find that when I’m completely parched (cottonmouth and all that), no matter how much water I drink, I still feel thirsty. I need that sugar and salt to sate me.

Water and pickles is a good way to go! I am a Rennie in August and September, and for a year or two the booth I work in was totally the “IN” place for people to pass out in front of. Lots of Type one diabetics, but also plenty of plain, 'ol average tourist types. Come to the faire, walk around for three hours, eat and drink nothing, or if you do drink, only beer. They would collapse in front of our booth, Heather would run to First Aid, and I would watch over them till help came. The lessons I learned :

  1. Food and drink and expensive at outdoor events, but cheaper then ambulance rides.
  2. Tourists think that if the ladies in big dresses and hats are okay, it’s not that bad. No matter what the evidence to the contrary is.
  3. If you scream “NURSE!” in a crowd, it is AMAZING how often there is actually a nurse right there.
    None of this helpful to hikers, since I understand the whole point is to get away from big crowds, vendors, and ladies in big dresses with ice packs in the bustle.

I once got dehydrated on a hike (we ran short of water and had to come back a day early), and I would’ve been very appreciative of someone who offered me some water on the return trip. It took 3 Gatorades before I was rehydrated again.