Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Hiking

Dijukno you don’t have to hike very far or often to appreciate the changing seasons in Northern California?  This fall has proved that so far.  We’ve had cold nights, clouds, rain, high winds, practically everything this fall including snow.  There was recent snow
covering the Heart on Avalanche Gulch on Mt. Shasta.  The snow is likely only days away on those mountains in the Sierra’s as well.

For day hikers, changing weather and shorter days during the fall present additional challenges to those encountered during a summer hike.  

Besides bringing proper clothing for the conditions, knowing fall weather patterns helps keep hikers safe.  Most experienced hikers know that for comfort and safety on fall hikes they need to plan and pack accordingly.  Here are some trail tested tips for a pleasurable fall hike.

(Leave No Trace Principle – Plan Ahead And Prepare)

When you plan a hike, allow time to complete the distance out and back before it gets dark which seems obvious until you realize that it gets dark around 5:30 p.m. in the shaded, forested approaches to most of Northern California mountain ranges.  If you try to hike a 10 mile round trip hike, for example, plan to leave the trailhead early in the morning.  That way you’ll have plenty of daylight to take your time and ensure a return back to the trailhead before dark.  Also, if anyone needs help with their gear, or has to tend to hot spots on their feet, there is more allowance for return trip in daylight.

Read the trail descriptions in your carefully, and be realistic in estimating your ability to complete your hike in the given time.  Set an early departure time, and more importantly, a firm turn back time.  Once you are on a summit, you are only halfway done on an out and back hike.  Most injuries occur on the descent, because people think the hard part is over and they become inattentive, or impatient.

Loading your daypack

Fall temperatures are lower, so pack extra layers.  Wear polypropylene, or Merino upper and lower base layers.  Read the ezine article by Brian Waspi.  “Merino Vs Polypropylene (Natural Vs Synthetic) For Base Layer Clothing”

NO COTTON.  The old sayings “cotton kills”, or the “cloth of death” really applies in the fall.  The problem is, it is much harder to stay dry and warm when hiking than most people think.  Problems with cotton occur when the cotton gets wet.  Cotton does not wick moisture and can become abrasive when wet.  When this happens, you must watch out for blisters and pack sores.  Because cotton holds so much moisture, it can hold that moisture against your body and sap body heat from you.  This can quickly lead to hypothermia. Cotton also gets heavy when wet.  Pack a fleece midlayer for rest stops.  It’s better to have it with you, and not need it than to regret leaving it behind.

Pack a breathable rain shell to double as a windbreaker for breaks and summit stops.  Carry at least 2 liters of water for any hike longer than two hours.  I prefer a 3 liter hydro-pack.  Bring plenty of snacks to carry in your pockets for easy access during breaks.

Eating calories equals heat to your body, so plan to snack often before you feel hungry.  If you pack a thermos of hot coco or cider, you’ll be warmed from the inside when you stop.  Pack gloves, a hat, and a down vest or outer shell of your choosing for the summit.  Finally, go over your 10 essentials checklist.  I have personally changed it to the 11 essentials to include bags to pick up trash along the trail.

Trekking the trail

Begin hiking by wearing as few layers of clothing as possible to be comfortable.  Put on a light fleece jacket, then start hiking to warm up in the cool, morning air.  When you stop for breaks, throw on the breathable rain shell or windbreaker to trap your body heat so you stay warm.  Take it off and pack it before hiking again.  You will quickly warm back up as you continue trekking.

Drink water before you’re thirsty. Heat exhaustion is not a problem in autumn, but dehydration could be.  In fact, dehydration is common among hikers who think that just because it’s cool, they don’t need to drink as much water.  Actually, cold air is just as drying as warm air. When you stop, find a wind break or barrier if it’s chilly or gusty.  Look for sheltered spots behind a ledge or tree barrier that blocks the full effect of the chilly fall wind.

While hiking, watch for fallen leaves on the ground.  Leaves can make trails slick, slowing your hiking speed, and causing slips and tumbles.  If you find that you’re not moving as fast as you thought you would, this is where having a firm turn back time is comes in to play.  Keep in mind that temperatures drop quickly once the sun sets.  Finally, be sure to pack enough food for an extra day in the event you can’t make it back to the trailhead.

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1 comment :

  1. nice storyI have never been on such places for hiking. But I love this and want to go for it once in my life. Getting tips from the persons who were on such places to enjoy and experience a thrilling journey is very helpful because they know and experienced how to tackle the situation and get out of trouble, if something wrong happens. Thank you for sharing your story.


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