Live to Hike Another Day?

The sign stated “Live to Hike Another Day” at the beginning of the trail in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.  This was followed by a sign telling you how much water you should have for each hour you expected to be hiking: 1 Gallon for each person and pet for a six mile hike.  High Heat Danger.  Wear or Use Sun Protection.  What the heck?  

The evening before when we arrived in Canyon, TX, the thermometer was 99 degrees F (37 degrees Celsius)at 8:00 pm after the sun had set.  We had left Abilene in 108 degrees (42 degrees Celsius) and had to carry the dog to a grassy spot to relieve himself as the asphalt was steaming.  This happens in Texas. A Lot. This does not happen in May!  

We were at the entrance to Palo Duro Canyon in the panhandle of Texas before 8 am. We were interested in a short  3 mile hike to the Lighthouse or along a creek with some shade and not a mountain climb.  We were told this is the second longest canyon at 120 miles long in America, second only to the Grand Canyon at 277 miles long. Why it seems so different is that the depth of Palo Duro Canyon is 800 feet, the Grand Canyon depth is 6,000 feet.

The heat wave is now happening in London in the summer of 2022.  Unprecedented heat in places that are not used to it.  It is not the time to hike in dangerous heat, especially if you are not used to it.  We decided to drive the length of the canyon instead. By 9 am the car registered 92 degrees and was steadily increasing.  Enough.  We will try again in the winter.

What has happened on the trails in Palo Duro Canyon in the past? Deaths from heat stroke and from falling off a ledge have already occurred this year in 2022.  In mid July, the temperature was 108 degrees in the Canyon and there were no cabins available to rent. Take me to Colorado.

Palo Duro Canyon is a beautiful place, but its environment can be harsh. Take these safety precautions to make your visit to the canyon safer:

  • Temperatures on the canyon floor can reach 120 degrees. Always carry plenty of water with you.
  • Weather conditions can change rapidly and flash flooding can pose a serious danger. If water begins to rise quickly, move immediately to higher ground.
  • Many of the canyon’s plants and animals have strong natural defenses. Watch for plants with spines and thorns and stay a safe distance from all wildlife… feral hogs and rattlesnakes included!  Similarly, many of the insects in the canyon can be quite pesky (to say the least). Having a good insect repellant close at hand can sometimes be a necessity.

“They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts. He made the waters flow out of the rock for them;” Isaiah 48: 21 Easy to Read Version

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