Grand Canyon Hike UV Exposure

The hike into the tribal land of Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon is an intense 12 mile hike through various rugged terrains. Descending over 2000 feet, the climate changes drastically from the top to the bottom. The one consistent heat related aspect of the hike is the intensity of the sun. The sun intensity drastically effects the experience of heat throughout the hike. Beginning at 5800ft elevation, the trailhead is often scorching hot as their is no shade throughout the first 2 hours of the hike. Once you have completely descended into the canyon, the walls begin to provide sporadic shade. However, hikers are still exposed to the sunshine more than the little shade available. As such, the experience of descending into the canyon is very intense(even more so on return as you are progressing uphill).


As I prepared to descend the Canyon with my friends, I finalized a DIY UV sensor to measure the amount of UV, Infrared and visible light intensity. I embedded the system into the top of my hat. Hats are critical for protecting your face, neck, shoulders, eyes and body. As such, I collected a sampling of the intensity of these variables throughout the descent from the Supai Hilltop to the Havasupai Village, some 8 miles and 2000 feet in elevation. I recorded the start time as we took our first steps from the hillside.

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Using a 9V battery afforded the compact installation of the full system into the inside top of my shade hat.

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I chose to ditch the breadboard because I had plenty of power and ground sources as well as ports to wire my peripherals into. I borrowed an OpenLog SD card reader/writer to the solution to enable portable capture of the incoming data.

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Soldering the cables assured the smallest system possible for portable and hassle free data recording. I also used ziplock baggies to enclose the equipment to ensure they remain dry and free of dirt and dust(and especially catepillars who were in huge quantities)


Although I used my handkerchief as the barrier between my skull and 9V of streaming data electrons, I prototyped the solution using a shopping bag.

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I also made sure to log my on/off times so as to compare my narrative from human experience to help identify data anomalies or variations. Of course, shaded parts of the canyon will reduce the UV index and likely other data points. Most of the shade should have been in the end of the data stream for example(as we arrived in the village, we experienced more tree and canyon shade.

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Although the data is now being reviewed, I can see in the data where some of my experience is analogous with the recorded information.


Additionally, I think this is a pretty cool solution to data capture in a Do It Yourself approach to creative science exploration. I look forward to further analyzing the data. First off, is creating some temporal markers for inference,

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