As important as it is to protect the environment, it is just as important to protect yourself. The environmental extremes in the Coachella Valley are at times unpredictable, and it is imperative you be prepared for them.
Preventing Heat Related Illness in the Desert
Before you go outside, be sure to check the weather. Even in spring, heat can quickly become a problem when you’re unprepared for your outing.
Sun protection is very important. Be sure to wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat that provides maximum coverage. Layering clothes can provide extra protection.
If you’re actively thirsty, you’re already under-hydrated. Sip some water and take the time your body needs to fully hydrate before venturing out for an extended amount of time. Take extra water and some salty snacks like mixed nuts or jerky to help stay hydrated. Take rests in the shade to recharge, check-in with yourself and your party, and plan to have them do the same. Monitor how you’re feeling, and make sure to know what the warning signs are for heat-related illness.
Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, or clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness or weakness
Warning Signs of Heat Stroke
- High body temperature
- Hot, dry, red, or damp skin
- Fast and strong pulse
If you or a member of your party is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 and immediately seek refuge from direct sunlight.
We are all responsible for keeping the desert beautiful, please click here for some terrific tips on how to help our delicate ecosystem look like it should.
To ensure the enjoyment of the desert for all:
Nothing is as precious and essential in the desert as water. Water is life, so monitor your intake well in advance of hiking, and take along extra with you, in ALL seasons. Wear lightly colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun. Check the weather prior to leaving for your adventure. Hiking in the extreme heat of a Coachella Valley summer can be deadly. Keep in mind that if you’re visiting from out of the area, it can take nearly two weeks for your body to acclimate to high heat. Holding off on a hike during the hottest part of the day and simply relaxing by the pool under an umbrella with a cool drink is the better option. Also, a short morning stroll or an evening jaunt can offer beautifully painted skies.
Keep to established trails
The desert has a reputation for being harsh and impervious to disruption, but areas of the Coachella Valley are incredibly delicate and staying on trails or choosing a picnic or camping area that is specifically established as such can keep our ecosystem, our community, and wildlife safe and healthy.
Cryptobiotic soil crust contain entire biomes of organisms. Bacteria within the soil is created by living organisms like fungi, cyanobacteria, and algae, and they release a material that holds soil particles together, making a densely packed crust. It stabilizes the soil against wind and water erosion. It is an entire ecosystem, protected and tiny, and it can take decades to recover after off-trail hikers’ step on it, or cyclists run over it. Like lichens, they are indicator species, their abilities and functions give us a clearer picture of the health of the environment around us. Read more about cryptobiotic soil here.
Lichens come in a variety of shapes and colors. (There are around 3600 different species in North America alone!) These living crusts provide valuable information about the overall health of the environment. Read more about these wonderous and variant organisms here.
Keep it clean
The delicate balance of desert flora and fauna can be interrupted by trash, domestic animal waste, food scraps, and anything else unnaturally occurring. In fact, many of those who recreate have adopted the practice of carrying an extra garbage bag to collect trash they find on the trail. While not a requirement, it can be a great way to help keep trafficked areas clean, and to set a great example to others. Please clean up after your dog and take it with you to dispose of.
Leave what you find
The California desert is home to many, both human and non-human. The traces of Indigenous villages, settlements, sensitive wildlife areas, and plant habitats must be kept as it is found. Petroglyphs and pictographs, as well as any bedrock mortars, broken pottery, or arrowheads, are part of a culture with living descendants and should be left undisturbed. The landscape itself houses many creatures who’ve built homes and ranges dependent on natural processes, please refrain from building rock cairns, altering, foraging, or traveling off trails so that ecologically sensitive areas remain healthy.
Respect the wildlife
As thrilling as it is to see wildlife on your outdoor adventure, it is tempting to take your phone out to snap a picture of it. But please, keep your distance and take no chances with your safety. You can also harm wildlife by feeding or getting close to them, as it makes them accustomed to human interaction, thereby altering behaviors that keep the ecosystem balanced.