This should prove useful:
Asa stated above, move during the night and try to stay cool during the day. Multiple layers with an airspace of about a foot in between makes a
more effective desert shade. If you have a tarp fold it in half and pitch it so that you have the tarp roof shading the ceiling and a little "attic
space". You want to shade the tarp itself from sun and it'll be a lot more effective.
If you're tent camping, fly your tarp over your tent with sufficient airspace and you'll stay cool for a fair part of the morning.
If you can find springs, you're in good shape. If not, dig for water. Find a wash, look for low, soft sandy or gravelly areas that are in shadows
during the later parts of the day, and dig some holes. Feel for moisture. If you scrape the surface and it's damp an inch or two down, it's
probably worth digging. Sometimes wet ground means nothing though if you hit a big rock with water just underneath, or sometimes ground is just wet.
In gravelly areas, dig a trench parallel to the flow of the water, and if you get water, the "uphill side will usually bleed a bit of silt, then
clear up, and force the silt slowly down to the downhill side.In a few minutes you'll end up with a good volume of clear and possibly clean water.
You're digging into an underground river that is flowing, so you can use the shape of your hole to utilize that flow to help clear the water I drink
water straight out of the ground if i'm in higher altitudes and there's little chance of contamination but if i'm at mid elevations and below i boil
it unless i'm gonna die from dehydration.
If you find standing water in a wash, find a spot about 10' away and dig down to below the surface water level. You'll get good water out of the
hole if it's just natural rain and not mine runoff, wastewater, or residential runoff from anywhere.
Just dig holes in all kinds of low places where it's obvious water has flowed in good quantity when you're out and you'll figure out within a short
time how to find desert (or sky island/alpine meadow) water.
Manzanita berries are tasty, i usually munch on these when i'm out, there's tons of 'em. The berries are small and seedy, but tasty. They're
sweet, kinda dry, and pithy with several black hard seeds. I find 'em everywhere around here, and just pick a handful every time i see a nice ripe
bush that the animals didn't disturb. Yellow-red ones are the tastiest, red ones are good, but if they're red and shriveled then don't bother.
Crush a bunch of berries and let them sit in cold water, it makes a nice mildly sweet cold "tea" that tastes a bit like tamarind juice.
If you're seriously out of water, and pulling an overnighter, catch dew in the morning. Lick rocks, grasses, and try to sponge up as much dew from
non contaminated surfaces as possible. If you work efficiently for a few hours you can gather a day's supply with a sponge, a container, and a
plastic bag. Put the plastic bag over a dew laden manzanita limb, shake well, and collect the water and berries. Start just before sunrise and
work quickly, before it evaporates.
Prickly pears are good, and i find 'em in higher, well drained desert scrub areas near washes. The fruits have some gnarly little fibrous hairs on
the little brown spots, they'll stick in you and iktch worse than fiberglass insulation. Passing the fruit over an open flame briefly singes these
hairs of and the fruit can then be peeled and eaten. If you don't have flame, try and use your knife to peel the fruit while it's on the cactus,
careful not to touch any spines, and then once the skin is off, pick the fruit.
The buds from Schott's Agave can be eaten raw or cooked, and when sauteed taste like green beans. Lots of other parts of agaves are useful also.
The spikes a the end of the leaves makes an excellent needle, and if you peel the fibers with the needle from the back og the leaf and use the
backside of your kinife like a brake, strip all the pulp and pith out so you're left with the needle and the fibers for thread. This stuff is super
strong and without twisting this'll allow you to fix a broken zipper on the fly or lace up a boot. Twist these fibers into proper cordage and
Yucca also has many uses, the roots contain saponin, which is natural soap, and the leaves also make an excellent fiber for cordage.
Learn to start a fire with Sotol. The stalks are very good for this, use the hand drill method. If you're in an area with lots of Sotol and Agave
and you need shelter, find a bunch of fallen stalks, make a teepee out of them by first tying three together at the top with yucca fiber rope or
agave, and then securing the three main legs,prop up as many stalks as you can find. Next, grab handfuls of grass and shove it in any gaps that the
sun is coming through. In the desert you won't mind a bit of rain, but the sun can be a killer. If you need rain protection, thatch some grass
around it. if the grass is hanging upside down it'll channel the water down the grass and keep you pretty dry, but in the desert outside of monsoon
season, you'd really only need shade and a dozen good agave stalks and a few armloads of gathered grass can get you out of the sun.
If you need to cool down quickly, find a wash that has wet stuff a few inches down, dig a shallow "grave" of a few inches, and lay in it. You'll
feel the sediment a few inches down is cooler, and if you dig and lay down immediately you can transfer some body heat into the cool zone and lose a
bit of body temp. Double bonus if you can dig a "grave" in a shaded spot, that'll provide a good amount of cooling.
Also remember, in the desert, you're sweating even if you're completely dry, especially if you're dry, your sweat is evaporating directly as it seeps
out of the pores, and your skin will remain dry. Don't be fooled into thinking you're not losing water because you're not drenched in sweat.
Oh yeah, and watch for rattlesnakes, I almost sat on a rock rattler one day, while out LOOKING FOR SNAKES! They REALLY blend in, i inspected my rock
closely to make sure i wasn't sitting on a scorpion, went to brush it off, and noticed as i looked closely that the crack in the rock was a
rattlesnake. They're masters of camo, so watch carefully and pay attention.