Bend is a special place. It’s been called an ‘Outdoor Mecah’ and for those who enjoy all the activities offered by the great outdoors, it’s certainly a kind of paradise. Yet, for all its positives, there are certain things to consider when spending time outdoors in Central Oregon. Here are a few tips for those of you planning to spend ample time exercising outdoors.
Wear SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
Any amount of time exercising outdoors in the summer months warrants sunscreen. What many people may not know is that in Central Oregon the sun can cause faster sunburns than at sea level. That’s because we live in the high desert. At higher elevations, there’s less atmosphere to protect us from the sun. If you plan on spending any length of time outdoors at a public park, on a nature trail, and especially on the river, be sure to put on sunscreen to protect your skin.
Always carry plenty of water when exercising outdoors.
The dry air in the high desert can be a blessing and a curse. In winter, cold air may not feel as cold as it might in more humid areas. In summer, the same applies to the heat. A 100 degree day in the Florida Everglades will feel much hotter than a 100 degree day in Bend. It all boils down to low humidity levels. But if you plan on exercising outdoors, the low humidity in Central Oregon can dry you out in a hurry and cause dehydration. It is extremely important to always carry plenty of water wherever your fun takes you, even on the river!
When running on the trails, avoid noise-cancelling headphones.
Numerous outdoor enthusiasts share the trails in Central Oregon, from runners to cyclists, to equestrians. There are rules governing who has right-of-way on the trails, and you should make sure you understand what those rules are. What you will also find in the rules are warnings on headphone use. If you plan to run or bike on the trails, avoid noise-cancelling headphones as these may prevent you from hearing other trail users, which could lead to an accident. When running or biking on the trails, it’s best to keep music low and to wear headphones that allow you to hear your surroundings, if you choose to wear them at all.
When hiking in the wilderness, avoid hiking alone and always tell others where you plan to hike.
Even the most experienced hikers can have accidents. With the number of trails available, and in consideration of how remote many of them are, it is important to plan ahead for safety. The best case scenario is to hike with others. This way, if an accident occurs, someone else is present to call for help if the need should arise. But, if hiking alone is your “thing”, be sure to tell others where you plan to hike and when you anticipate you will return home. Telling others these things can help alert them to a problem and where to look for you if an accident should prevent you from returning from the hike.
If hiking a mountain or butte, remember to BREATHE.
Never forget that the higher the elevation, the lower the oxygen levels. When setting out on a hike of a mountain, such as South Sister, or a butte, such as Black Butte, remember to focus on controlled, consistent breathing. While none of the mountains and buttes in our area are high enough to cause altitude sickness in most people, climbing one of these too quickly without breathing deep, controlled breaths can lead to over overexertion and in some cases hyperventilation. Neither of these are particularly dangerous, but they can be unnerving. All of these things can be avoided with deep, controlled, and consistent breathing.