Each time we enter a new hiking season, the rules change. For three seasons, the change is significant enough to warrant the requisite reminders. Going into winter, it’s important to remember that the sun sets early, that it gets colder than you may recall, that any weather change needs to be heeded because the stakes for the unprepared are significant. Going into spring, the world is coming back to life — including itchy plants, biting flying creatures and venomous snakes. And summer — drink, drink, drink!
On Tuesday evening’s hike, I overheard a new hiker ask a veteran, “Someone told me you do this series in the winter — in the dark? Is that true?”
Indeed it is, replied the veteran of our winter weekly Tuesday night campaigns. She went on to explain why you would hike at night, in winter, essentially boiling it down to two factors: First, the practical: for most of us, if you want to get in a mid-week hike when all the daylight hours are consumed by work you have little choice but to hike in the dark. And two: it’s a good time. “It’s just a different experience hiking in the dark. It’s fun!”
Whooo, baby! We’re looking at our first 90-degree weekend of the year. And you had your heart set on taking a hike.
No need to cancel your plans. You just need to alter them a wee bit.
From our GetHiking! Guide to Summer Hiking, a bit of advice:
- Dress appropriately. Button-up fishing and hiking shirts typically have vents and mesh that do a good job of keeping your torso from building up head. Shorts are good, but there are also inexpensive lightweight nylon pants that protect your legs without keeping in the heat.
- Hydrate. Always important, especially in heat. Increase your desire to drink by packing cold water, either by filling a water bottle three-quarters full the night before, freezing it and topping it off with cold water before the hike, or by loading a bladder with ice, then filling in the nooks and crannies with cold water.
- Hike early. The coolest part of the day. This weekend, the temperatures shortly after sunrise should be in the low 60s.
- Hike late. Temperatures typically peak late afternoon, then drop as the sun does. By 6:30 p.m. you should be down 10 degrees from the day’s high, and you’ll benefit from a continually dropping thermostat.
- Choose a heat-resistant trail. How, you ask? Look for trails with:
- Higher elevations. The temperature drops roughly 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation.
- Near water. Trails along creeks or around lakes are especially good. If you start to overheat, kick off your boots and wade in.
- Look for a northern exposure. Trails that spend most of their time on a northern exposure, away from direct sunlight, tend to be cooler.
Not sure you want to do that much research? Worry not. We have some recommendations.
Wisdom? That may be a stretch (though it is alliterative). Every Wednesday we share our thoughts in rotating subject areas: gear, social media, hiking/backpacking/camping resources, and tips from the field. These items are culled from our weekly GetHiking! enewsletter, which also includes news and information on hikes and backpack trips in our GetHiking! and GetBackpacking! universes. Subscribe to our weekly enewsletter here.
I was putting together a curriculum for a new hiker in our Adventure Coaching program and realized that some of what she needed to know was especially pertinent to this time of year. Today, I share some of those tips that will be especially helpful, hopefully, going into winter.