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No, this post is not about thru-hikes. See last week's post about the PCT if you think that's something I'm interested in. It's also not about running ultramarathons, which I'm supposed to be training for but haven't been able to because of endless injuries since March 28. 

It's probably a good thing I'm not trying to run since I didn't realize when I booked my stay in Redding, California that it's the 17th hottest city in the country. Here's a snapshot of the temps from a large portion of my stay here. Note that the cloud icons aren't clouds, but rather smoke from all the wildfires in my area. There was even a small fire in the city, just a half mile from my AirBnB, last Sunday. That's a bit extreme for running.

Redding sits at an elevation of around 700 feet, but within an hour's drive in any direction, you can be at 6,000 - 7,000 feet and start hiking upward. Even there, though, it's not much cooler. You'll still be hiking in 88 - 92 degrees when it's 110 in Redding. 

So it's good for me that I like the heat and wasn't going to let it stop me from enjoying all the beautiful wilderness there is to enjoy here. These are some of the hikes I did, most in the ultra heat.

Distance     Elevation Gain     Average Temperature
5.73        812     91
11.00     1,508     89
4.73    679         88
4.25     1,542     92
7.75     2,029     97
18.17     5,768     84
15.94     2,938     72
3.03     475     88
4.68     1,853     99
11.47         7,651     63

That last one was only as cool as it was because I started at 5 AM and summitted the 14,180 foot Mount Shasta.

rocky mountain side looking down on clouds

woman pointing at mountain top looming behind her

I've learned a few things hiking in this heat that might help you if you too decide to come check out Northern California in the summer.

  • Drink a ton of water. Duh. But I mean a ton. My two-liter bladder as been plenty to get me up and down lots of Colorado 14ers, but here, I've been packing the two liter and an extra liter...and still going through it all on much less strenuous hikes.
  • Wear sunscreen. Also duh. And put it in your backpack to reapply.
  • Keep a cooler in your car with ice cold sparkling water (or your beverage of choice) for when you get back to the car. Ever seen a frat boy pound a beer? Yeah, that's me with a Key Lime Aha. 
  • Keep a cooling towel in your car to dip in the melted ice in the cooler and sling over your neck.
  • As for clothes, everyone is different. Californians are serious about sun protection in a way I haven't seen elsewhere. Long sleeves, long pants, wide-brimmed hats, and even fingerless gloves all over the trails, no matter the temperature. Me? I can't do it. Minimal shorts and tanks, and applying and re-applying and re-applying sunscreen.
  • If you see a sign for a spring that's .2 miles off your trail, take it! Ice cold mountain water is 100 percent worth the extra mileage. Dunk your shirt and hat in that spring for instant revitalization. 

I didn't realize how overheated I was until I snapped this selfie and got a look at the color of my face. This was the hike in my chart above with an average temperature of 97. After that, I started getting myself out of bed at 4:30 am and doing morning hikes, even though I much prefer afternoon exercise.

woman with heatstroke squatting by mountain spring

And, of course, escape sometimes! I made it out to the Pacific Ocean in Eureka, California partly so I could reach that milestone of coast (Atlantic) to coast (Gulf of Mexico) to coast (Pacific) on this journey, but also because it was only in the 60s and blustery and no sun in sight!

woman sitting on beach on cloudy day