Tag Archives: summer

We’re hot for hiking!

Summer hiking tips
Post-hike soak in Kimsey Creek on our Standing Indian weekend.

Tuesday at lunch I headed to a favorite local wild area for a two-mile hike. Five minutes in and I was a glow: my eyes stung with sweat, my shirt stuck to me, I’d even collected a cobweb or two. Ah, the return of hot weather hiking. 

I love a good hike in the heat. In large part that’s because not everyone else does. Head out on a day when the temperature’s in the upper 80s, as it was Tuesday, and there’s a good chance you won’t see another soul on the trail. But the summer forest is a whole other world: it’s teaming with life, yet it’s oddly quiet. It’s the best time of year to find a secluded spot and plant yourself for 15 minutes and quietly observe the world around you.  read more

Hot times on the trail

As the days heat up, you might be tempted to cool it on your hiking habit. But, actually, you can hike all summer long — the secret lies in the when and where. Here are a few tips to keep you on the trail. 

=&0=&. Evening is good. So is early morning: Hit the trail at 7 a.m., be done by 11 and you can get in a decent hike before the temperature gets much above 80.

=&1=&. One concession you might make is the length of your hikes. If you love a good 10-miler in winter, maybe a 5- to 7-mile hike is more appropriate in hot weather.

=&2=&. Select trails with high canopies: leaf cover can trim about 10 degrees from the heat. Also look for trails with minimal understory to allow better access to whatever breeze may be available. 

=&3=&. Trails that are wide, preferably double track, provide superior air flow. And on early morning hikes, you’ll be less likely to Swiffer up a raft of spider webs.

=&4=&. Especially at lower elevations, hike along water. If you start to heat up, shed the hiking shoes and wade in, and splash a little over your head and neck.

=&5=&. In summer, cotton can be your friend (for the very reason it is your enemy in winter): Cotton absorbs sweat and keeps it close to your skin; on hot days, this works as a personal air conditioning system

=&6=& Of course you’re carrying water; make sure your water is cold. If you use a hydration pack, fill the bladder with ice, then water. If you use bottles: the night before, fill them 3/4 full and put them in the freezer, then top off before heading out. If you’re going for 5 miles or more, take an electrolyte drink (or water stir-in) to replenish your body with vital minerals including sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. 

=&7=&. Stop, drop, and rest if you have any of these symptoms: you sweat more than usual, you have muscle pain or spasms, you feel nauseous or dizzy or get a headache, or have any of the heat-released illness symptoms you’ll find listed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link below. Take further action as noted at the CDC site. 

=&8=&. Things that fly and bite and spread rashes are a few of our least favorite things about summer hiking. But if you plan ahead and prepare, you can make them a little less pesky. See our handy link below.

=&9=&. Hike in the mountains! They’re cool in more ways than one. We have several trips planned this summer. Come join us: 

Our cool summer hikes

Here’s where we’ll be keeping our cool on the trail this summer:

Peaks of Otter (basecamp hiking)
Standing Indian (basecamp hiking)
Linville Gorge (base camp hiking)
Linville Gorge (backpacking)

South Mountains State Park read more

Wake Up and Hike

As summer and its 90-degree temperatures near, hiking midday can be one sweaty undertaking. That leaves the evenings and early mornings, when temperatures in the 70s seem downright fall-like. Today, we revisit a piece from May 6, 2011, that expounds  upon the delights — and challenges — of the early morning hike.

I bolted upright, wide awake, at 4:45, 15 minutes before the alarm was scheduled to do its ugly business. In 10 minutes I was dressed, had my daypack packed, poured a mug of coffee and was ready to go. I wasn’t my usual morning self.

But then, on this morning I wasn’t going about my usual morning routine.

For the past several years, my friend Alan and I have attempted to beat the winter blues by taking night hikes. Starting in October, as the sun starts to play hard-to-get and temperatures dip into the fleece zone, we head out at dusk for three hours or so of headlamp-guided night hiking. It’s not a substitute for day hiking, when you can see things. Rather, with both of us entrenched in our 50s it’s a way to keep our legs and hearts in shape for those long hikes we hope to keep taking years from now. And as challenges go, we find we hike faster without the distraction of nature, an acceleration aided by the cold, which inspires a peppy, heat-producing pace.

Usually, our night hiking season runs through March. Cold snaps willing, we can sometimes push it into April. May, though, is a stretch, and when I suggested to Alan last week that we might take advantage of a coming cold front he asked just how cold it was supposed to get. I consulted the iPhone weather app.

“Overnight low of 45,” I said.

“But in the evening it’ll probably still be in the 60s,” he replied. “In the morning, on the other hand … .”

Our turnaround point presented a dilemma: Do we head back and go to work or do we join the great blue herons for breakfast?

Morning hikes offer a chance to settle your day before it gets started. A brisk morning walk around the neighborhood or 30 minutes on the treadmill certainly achieve the goal of waking you up and jump-starting your system. But throw in the predawn sun casting its pink glow, mist hovering above a pond, the first rays of sun knifing sideways through a hardwood forest and the sounds of a woodland slowly coming to life, and you’ve pretty much assured yourself that while today can’t get any better you’re not of a frame of mind to let it get worse.

Three challenges associated with the morning hike:

Challenge: A lot of our public forests aren’t officially open before dawn. North Carolina’s state parks, for instance, don’t officially open until 8 a.m. That’s the bewitching hour for many parks and forested areas run by municipalities as well (others observe the less-formal dawn-to-dusk schedule). Notable exceptions are lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, of which there are more than 18 million acres, and the

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission read more

Hiking: Where to beat the heat

Appalachian Trail

The following is a rejiggering of a piece that originally ran Aug. 6, 2014, titled, “Summer Hiking: Beat the Heat.”

Some of us don’t mind hiking in the heat. Switch to cotton, freeze your water bottle overnight, use your trekking poles as spider web vanquishers … . Sure, you work up a nice glow. But you’re on the trail, and really, it’s not unbearable.
We recognize, though, that not everyone is inclined to keep on hikin’ after Memorial Day. We also recognize that as August approaches, the aforementioned cool-weather hikers are starting to undergo withdrawal. You get out your phone and stare longingly at those photos from the beginning of the year, when you were bundled in fleece. Ah, the good cold days.
We can’t magically make it cold. But we can direct you to some hikes where it feels less like summer. In some cases, a lot less. As a rough rule of thumb, the temperature drops about 3.5 degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation. So if it’s 90 in Raleigh (elevation 315 feet), it’s in the upper 60s atop Mount Mitchell (elevation 6,684 feet).
Lesson one: hike higher, hike cooler.
Lesson two: you needn’t go as high, provided you’re hiking near cool waters. Waterfalls, pools on mountain creeks, that sort of thing.
With those two guiding points in mind, we offer 10 high country spots where fair weather hikers can stretch their legs without working up a flop sweat.
You might even want to take along a fleece.
Learn more about those hikes, here. Or, consult the entries listed in either “Backpacking North Carolina” or “100 Classsic Hikes in North Carolina.”

  • Shuckstack/Lost Cove/Lakeshore Loop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 11.6 miles (Trip No. 21 “Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Harper Creek/North Harper Creek Loop, 13.6-mile loop, less for an out-and-back Wilson Creek Area, (Trip No. 9, “Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Huntfish Falls, 16.4 miles with shorter options, Wilson Creek Area (Trip No. 8, Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Clingmans Dome, 26.2 miles, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Trip No. 19, “Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Shining Rock Wilderness, various lengths (Trips 14, 15 and 16, “Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Mountains-to-Sea Trail through Graveyard Fields, 3.2 miles, Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 418.8) (Hike No. 62, “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina”).
  • Basin Cove, Doughton Park, various from 8.5 to 20+ miles, Blue Ridge Parkway (Trip No. 11, “Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Pink Beds, 5 miles, Pisgah National Forest near Brevard (Hike No. 80, “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina”).
  • Mount Mitchell, various lengths & options, Black Mountains (Trips 1, 2, 3, “Backpacking North Carolina”).
  • Panthertown Valley.
  • read more

    90 Second Escape: Rope Swing

    Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.

    Today’s 90-Second Escape: Rope Swing

    Among the many reasons to be glad summer has arrived …

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