Updated 10 a.m. July 27: Stebbins Cold Canyon trails will remain closed over the next several days due to continuing high temperatures, the reserve said on its website yesterday.
Updated 10:30 a.m. July 24: As planned, UC Davis Natural Reserves officials closed the Stebbins Cold Canyon trails as the weekend came to an end, considering a forecast calling for high temperatures at or around 100 degrees all week. Officials also closed the trails last Monday through Friday (July 16-20) after the prior weekend saw two hikers having to be rescued after suffering heat stroke.
The Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve trails reopened today (July 20) and will stay open through Sunday evening (July 22), the result of a forecast showing significantly moderated temperatures — highs in the low- to mid-90s — through the weekend.
But, take note: “It will still be hot, so we strongly recommend hiking only in the morning hours,” UC Davis Natural Reserves officials said on the Stebbins Cold Canyon website. “And of course, hikers should bring large quantities of drinking water, since there is none on site. Fire danger remains elevated.”
The reserve system closed the popular hiking trails near Lake Berryessa on Monday (July 16), concurring with the Solano County Office of Emergency Services in its declaration that a heat wave warranted the closure to protect public safety. On the day the heat wave began, Saturday (July 14), emergency personnel came to the aid of two hikers suffering from heat stroke.
In one rescue, a helicopter carried the female victim off the trail to a nearby landing pad, where she was transferred to an ambulance; and, in the other incident, rescuers brought the female victim to the landing pad, where a helicopter and took her to a hospital. Chief Howard Wood of the Vacaville Fire Protection District reported both women had gone home.
Jeffrey Clary, associate director of UC Davis Natural Reserves, said his office coordinated with first-responders in deciding to reopen the trails — the same first-responders who endanger themselves when answering calls of heat-related illness. Rescuers reportedly toiled in temperatures as high as 104 in last weekend’s hiking emergencies.
“So please think of their safety, too, as well as your own,” Clary said.
More high heat due next week
The Weather Channel's Lake Berryessa page reported high temperatures over the last few days of 101 degrees Tuesday and 102 Wednesday and Thursday. Today’s forecast calls for a high of 93, followed by 92 Saturday and 96 Sunday.
The trails will be closed Sunday evening in advance of predicted high temps ranging from 98 to 102 Monday through Friday next week, followed by 96-degree highs Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29. Check the Stebbins Cold Canyon website to see the latest trail advisories.
A message on the website today reads: “Life-threatening heat illness and emergency rescues occur here weekly in the hot months. Hiking unprepared endangers yourself and rescue crews.”
Preparation should include taking at least 2 quarts of water per hiker, according to a safety handout prepared by the Vacaville Fire Protection District and Solano County Office of Emergency Services.
The handout further states: If you doing the Blue Ridge Loop Trail (5 miles with 1,600 feet of climbing), start early enough so you can complete the three-hour hike before the temperature reaches 80 to 85 degrees. Often this means starting no later than 9 a.m., earlier on some days.
For hikers not used to strenuous exercise in significant heat, officials encourage shorter training hikes. “It requires exercising one to two hours a day in 80- to 95-degree heat for 10 to 14 days to become fully acclimated to exercising in heat,” the safety handout states.
One more bit of advice: When starting the Blue Loop Trail, you’ll come to the reserve’s old homestead at about the 1-mile mark — and it’s a good place to turn around if you are winded, fatigued or overheated.