Part 2 of my disastrous hiking afternoon continues…
At the end of the Upper Canyon Trail, you have three options to get back to your car: (1) You can hike the trail again, which, considering how much it kicked my butt, was not gonna happen, (2) You can walk on the road, which is the shortest route, but more dangerous because of the lack of shoulder and tons of blind curves or (3) You can hike the Tom Mays trail which runs semi-parallel to the road. I opted for choice #3 and thus my day continued to be horrible.
Like with Upper Canyon, Tom Mays has 0% shade, although it does run through two parking lots and covered picnic table areas. I started off on the trail after having lain prostrate on the Upper Canyon trail head picnic table for awhile bringing down my body heat. The first problem I had was with the trail itself; it was poorly marked and I had trouble finding my way a few times. The second problem I had was with the wildlife. For months I’ve seen ‘Beware of Snakes’ signs and on the Tom Mays Trail I heard my first rattler. Needless to say I did not stick around to see it – I just ran quickly away. I also ran across my first tarantula, which I did get a pic of, but from a distance (Don’t worry Mom!).
The biggest problem I had, though, was with heat and exhaustion. I had plenty of water, so there was no danger of dehydration, but the temp was over 100 degrees and the first hike took much longer than expected, so I was really having a rough time during the second hike. When I came to the first set of covered picnic tables, I sat down, ate some fruit and allowed my body temp to lower again. The distance between the first and second picnic tables was much longer and before I got there, I started experiencing the first signs of heatstroke – I was shaking and getting cold chills despite the heat and sun. Thankfully, I knew what was happening to me, so I gathered all my energy and hurried as quickly as I could to the second picnic tables, at which point I utterly collapsed on top of them. Laying there I could literally see my car about half a mile away, but I was too shaking and exhausted to move, plus my car doesn’t have air conditioning, so it would’ve been like an oven in there. I knew the park gate closed at 5pm so I kept looking at my phone calculating how long I could lay there and still get to my car and get out in time.
Dreadful is really the best word I have to describe the whole afternoon. Although I won’t be hiking these particular trails again, I will go back to the park in the future and be much more prepared for what to expect.