Steve Anderson is a veteran of virtually every HellFire there has been. He has won the 15K or Bust contest and has experienced the salt first hand. With that said, Steve has put together some great hints, tips, and information that will help make your HellFire experience unforgettable for all the right reasons...
Being unprepared many years ago at Springfest, I packed up my stuff and was back in my room by 1:00pm. The temperature was 112 in the shade when I left. Lesson learned! Temperatures during Hellfire can easily exceed 100 degrees and the surface temperature of the salt is about 120 degrees! What can you do to thrive in this type of environment?
- Bring lots of water. Basic survival requires 1 quart per day, we are not interested in just surviving! We want to have fun so this means you should drink about 1 litre (quart) per hour. (During LDRS 17 on the Salt Flats I drank 2 gallons a day.) Hydration packs are good for carrying water as it's always there when you need it. How do you know that you are drinking enough water? Very simple. If you are using the facilities (4-5 times a day) you are drinking enough. Do not consume alcohol. I have seen in years past many people like their beer out on the salt. This will actually reduce you ability to tolerate the heat. Save it for the room at night.
- You need to keep you skin temperature at 92 or below. Wear long sleeves and long pants. Wear lightweight (but not transparent) and light colors as the light colors will keep you cooler, dark colors have a tendency to hold heat in your body. Proper clothing will protect you better than sunblock. Use sunblock to protect areas not covered by clothing, if you are wearing shorts or short sleeves be sure you sunblock above the hemlines of the clothing.
- Bring portable shade such as an EZ-Up and spend lots of time under it. There are many companies that are making these now. They all run around 100.00 but it's a great investment if you spend any time in the desert. It's a good idea to buy one that can have the canopy easliy removed so you can take the canopy off for the night. The winds at night are notorious for picking up awnings and rolling them for miles across the flats.
- Bring a high protein snack. I like jerky but there are other choices, granola, chips, etc.
- Bring high contrast UV sunglasses. Sunglasses will cause your pupils to dialate, opening your eyes up to even more of the damaging Ultraviolet (UV) rays so it's important that the sunglasses will filter out the harmful UV.
- Bring a hat. Full brim like a Fedora or Foreign Legion style something that will shade your neck and face as well as the top of your head. A bandana around your neck soaked in water is another good option to keep you cool and your skin protected.
- Chairs! You will need something to sit on to rest or to build motors under your shade.
- Bring a worktable. You can leave your table in your parking area at night if you are coming back each day. It's not a bad idea to flip the table upside down before you leave for the night to keep it from blowing over in the winds that sometimes come up on the salt in the evening. For table choices, “Lifetime Products” has some good options.
- Use a spray-mister. This is actually easier than building a mister tent as I have seen done at LDRS. Get one of the garden sprayers with a pump and fill it with water. Pump it up and spray yourself and family. There are alslo lots of readily available models already made.
- Bring a jacket. Contrary to popular belief Salt Lake City is not a desert. It is one notch above and called “Steppe”. Deserts like Bonneville cool off a lot a night. You may also need the jacket in the morning before the sun warms up the launch site.
- If you are going out on the salt or returning to Wendover at night do so in convoys of two cars or more. It is easy to get lost out there as I know from experience (Black Rock too). It is important this year as we are near new moon and there is very little light on the salt at night. During the day there is enough back and forth traffic it should not be an issue. Remember the curvature of the earth begins to become a factor at 5 miles. Be careful in traveling great distances from the launch site.