Hydration For The Kokoda Track
Some sickness on the Kokoda Track can be attributed to dehydration. Water and electrolyte drinks are vital to each trekker, and we encourage all trekkers to be keeping each other accountable to keep hydrated.
Your thirst is a natural gauge for your hydration. If you are thirsty you need to drink straight away. Even if you are not thirsty, you need to small amounts drink at regular intervals.
For this reason it is very important to keep your water as easily accessible as possible, to allow you to regularly drink. The best way to do this is via a water bladder and a hose with a mouth piece such as a 3 litre Camel Bak. Water bottles are hard to keep continual drinking for long periods and products such as life straws are unsuitable for water consumption while trekking.
In the past some trekkers on the Kokoda Trail have had un-safe water drinking regimes, that have caused people to have too much water in their system and this has led to sickness, and has been a key contributing factor in the deaths of some Kokoda trekkers. This was attributed to hypernatremia that is a sodium/body water balance issue. Hypernatremia is an elevated sodium level in the blood, specifically a serum level above 145 mEq/L. Hypernatremia is generally not caused by an excess of sodium, but rather by a relative deficit of free water in the body. For this reason, hypernatremia often coincides with dehydration.
It is not an area that needs to worry you, but trekkers must be regularly drinking, and listening to their bodies. Come to the beginning of the tour hydrated (don’t drink alcohol the night before you start) and continue to hydrate regularly.
Electrolyte supplements are vital to ensuring your bodies are well equipped for each day. Mix these up in a cup morning and night and more if needed. The mixture should be as per the manufactures instructions or even a little stronger (instead of one satchel to 350ml mix it in 300ml) as this is the best way to keep you body up with the salts it requires. Do not mix this in larger volumes and sip all day as this mixture is too weak to replenish the electrolytes sufficiently. Do not bring or use Gator aid or staminade as these are to high in sugar and contain little salt or magnesium. Suggestions for the type of supplement to use include: Endura, Hydrolyte sports, Shotz electrolyte tablets.
Please keep watch on the color of your urine, as darker urine is a warning sign for dehydration. If you are urinating very frequently more than once every 90 – 120 minutes you could be drinking too much, if you are not urinating every couple of hours you could be drinking to little fluids. Headaches, dry mouth, restlessness and a slight fever are also a warning signs of dehydration.
Key points are to drink small amounts regularly, use the right electrolyte supplements and avoid alcohol and large amounts of diuretics like caffeine found in coffee and tea.