Tag Archives: tips

Don’t let a little heat keep you off the trail

After one of the most gorgeous and prolonged springs in memory, a spring that couldn’t be better suited to being on the trail, the heat is finally arriving this weekend. We couldn’t be happier.

A near-perfect spring coupled with the coronavirus has has driven an unprecedented number of hikers to the trail. But, with the coming heat and humidity, coupled with more retail outlets slowly opening, we should see far fewer hikers on the trail this weekend. read more

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

Take the fear out summer stream crossings

Just because summer arrives Thursday (at 6:06 a.m.) and the temperature this week already has hit the mid-90s doesn’t mean we’re going to stop hiking. We’re just going to adjust our approach. We’re going to make sure that, for the next three months or so, the majority of our hikes include one of two things:

  1. Water
  2. Elevation

Today, we focus on the former. Specifically, on the sometimes traumatizing prospect of hiking a trail with creek crossings. Creek crossings that don’t have bridges, and sometimes don’t even have a decent rock-hop crossing.

A stream with no bridge or obvious rock-hop crossing can be intimidating to the unprepared hiker. Just the thought of getting your feet wet and continuing on in soggy boots seems capable of raising blisters. Fortunately, most rivers can be easily forded. Here’s how:

=&0=&. If you know you will be dealing with multiple crossings in a short span, slip into a water shoe. Keens (or anything that’s similarly constructed) are ideal, with their closed toe and firm fit. Old running shoes also work, though they don’t dry as quickly. If it’s just a crossing or two, walking across in hiking socks (preferably wool) provides a bit of protection to your feet and improves grip.

=&1=& Your balance crossing water is greatly improved if you have trekking poles or a hiking stick: three or four points of contact beats two. Probe with your poles/stick, plant firmly, take a step. If you don’t have poles or a stick, you can often find one leaning against a tree or rock at the crossing.

=&2=&Don’t be hasty, it’s a several step process:

  • First, check the opposite bank and see where the trail resumes. Often, the direct line across is where you’ll find the logical crossing, but not always: water levels in particular can impact the best place to cross.
  • Check to see if there is a viable rock-hop.
  • Generally, the widest spot in the river — where the water is often shallower and the current not as strong, is the best place to cross. 
  • Look for a worn path headed either upstream or down. Odds are it leads to a preferred crossing.
  • In general, slow moving water shouldn’t be above your thigh, fast moving above your knee. If it is, scout upstream and down for another location. 
  • Look for large rocks or other obstacles in the stream; they create an eddy (slow moving water) behind them, making for a good spot to rest and catch your breath before continuing on. 
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    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