The infernal hike of 28 August 2005 began at 5:20 AM at first light, that phase of dawn at which one can just make out the trail and its hazards. Sunrise was about forty minutes off. If one hopes to survive a desert hike in August, especially in environs as rugged and unforgiving as the Superstition Wilderness, one does well to start at first light and be finished by high noon. I once finished such a hike around two or three in the afternoon with the distinct impression that I had pushed the envelope about as far as possible.
It is a curious sensation to feel oneself being slowly roasted in five different ways.
There is first of all the air temperature. Today's for example was 112 degrees Fahrenheit at its high. At any temperature above 90 the human body starts to absorb heat through the skin.
Then there is conduction. One gains heat by contact with the ground, rocks, ledges, anything one touches while hiking or climbing if the object is hotter than 90 degrees.
In third place comes convection. Hot air blows against the skin and imparts heat to the body. Even a slight breeze at 112 degrees has quite an effect.
Fourth, there is solar radiation. Once up, Old Sol beats down unmercifully, which is why I wear a long-sleeved white shirt and a broad-brimmed hat. My legs remain exposed, though, since hiking in long pants is unbearably confining.
Finally, there is metabolism. The internal organs and the muscles at work generate body heat.
I finished at 11:10 with the day's high of 112 degrees Fahrnheit fast approaching. I was well-roasted and dehydrated, but very satisfied with the five hours and fifty minutes I spent hiking over washed-out, overgrown, ankle-busting trails.
I concur with Colin Fletcher: Hiking is "a delectable madness, very good for sanity, and I recommend it with passion." (The Complete Walker III, p. 3)