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Hiking Dangers

Not being prepared or knowledgeable on the danger of hiking can make what set off to be a most pleasant adventure, a real nightmare. Hiking seems like it would be an easy sport…and it can be on some trails. But, in the mountains of El Paso, hiking is pretty risky on many of our trails. Even for the most experienced hikers, they can find themselves in danger at times. The risk is even greater for those inexperienced and overestimating their ability.

Here are some of the dangers of hiking so you can be prepared and enjoy a safe hike:

Altitude Sickness

Altitude  sickness can be very serious for hikers, especially for those visiting the mountains from states with lower elevations. Altitude sickness occurs as we rapidly increase our elevation over a short period of time. When this happens, oxygen levels in the air decrease. It can affect everyone differently, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level, especially if the elevation increase is upwards of 5000 feet higher than one’s typical elevation.

Symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • fatigue

More serious symptoms include vomiting, lack of coordination, and confusion.


You must be in tune to your body before taking on hiking. Hiking may not seem like it but it is a whole body workout.

The most common hiking injuries are sprains or broken bones. Sprains are tears to ligaments and tendons (for hikers, that usually means ankles and knees). Either way, expect pain, swelling, or restricted range of motion, often after a snap or pop. Because they require rest to heal, these injuries can be trip-enders.

To prevent sprains, warm up and stretch before hiking. Wear sturdy boots if you are prone to rolled ankles, use hiking poles, and step very carefully especially when off trail. Hiking is not meant to be a speed sport. Take your time and be careful with your hiking steps to prevent injury.

Other injuries can include:

  • Blisters
  • Cuts
  • Sunburn
  • Dehydration


Did you know that the human body is 70% water? It’s true and it’s why staying hydrated is so important.

For hikers, drinking water is essential for the proper circulation of nutrients in the body to keep it lubricated and operating at peak. Drink water throughout your hike…just not at the beginning and when you are finished. You need to hydrate to replace what is lost through sweat.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • thirst
  • increased sweating
  • headache
  • nausea
  • muscle cramps
  • extreme fatigue
  • dizziness
  • dark urine or lack of urination

In desert regions one should be drinking at least three liters during the day. It sounds like a lot, but with how hot and dry it is, you will need to replenish your fluids.

Tips for staying hydrated:

  • Bring a couple of bottles of water with you to the hike
  • Always drink water before, during, and after the hike
  • Stop and eat foods (like fruits and vegetables) that contain water on your hike
  • If you’re thirsty, drink, even if you believe you met the recommended average fluid intake for the day


Hiking has many dangers. Should you find yourself with an injury that doesn't heal with rest, call our orthopedic surgeon at Ortho El Paso.

915-249-4000    |