Summer's End, Hiking's Beginning, Preparations for Your Adventures

September 16th, 2014:

The hot summer days are coming to an end, but the hiking season is just beginning to ramp up. With the warm colors of fall appearing on the trees and beautiful snowscapes not far away, now is a great time to get outside and hike the White Mountains. Here are some tips to stay warm on the trail as the weather cools down.

Planning: The most important step in any hiking trip is knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Even an overnight backpacking trip in 0 degree Fahrenheit weather can be a blast if you plan for it. Here are some things to do before setting off. Check the weather forecast. Plan for the temperature and conditions you’ll be hiking in. If the forecast looks ominous, there’s no harm in rescheduling your trip. The mountain isn’t going anywhere and hiking in a blizzard can be miserable at the least and fatal at the worst.

Clothing: The biggest thing you can do to stay warm on the trail is stay dry. If you sweat, you get cold. The best way to prevent this is to wear multiple layers that can quickly be removed or added. Your base layer is the clothing you have against your skin and its purpose is to move moisture away from your skin. There are many synthetic fabrics that are designed specifically for this role but the old favorite that is preferred by many is merino wool. The next layer should be your insulating layer. What you wear will depend on the weather forecast but a few good options are wool sweaters, down filled jackets, or a fleece. Last is your shell layer. This is the layer that protects you from the wind, rain, snow, and anything else nature might throw at you. All shell layers will have some of the following: Water resistance, wind-resistance, insulation, and breathability. These can be anything from a trash bag poncho to an arctic expedition parka or anything in-between.

Partial layers - using multiple hats or gloves are a quick, easy way to adjust your temperature without the need to stop and take off your pack before you can carry on.

Hydration: Often forgotten about when the sun isn’t beating you down is water. Dehydration doesn’t only make the mind and body work less efficiently, it can also lead to hypothermia. To prevent this drink before you get thirsty. If you’re staying out overnight, it’s good to drink at least 16oz of water before bed to keep your body running through the night. Carrying an insulated bottle full of a hot drink or soup will keep you hydrated and the instant warmth it provides is a great treat while you look out from the mountain peaks.

With these tips and a little motivation you can stay warm and have a great time. So get out there and enjoy all the wonders that nature has to offer!

- Andrew Zdeblick, Junior Mechanical Design Eningeer, Goddard Technologies

Top Picture: View from the Flume Gorge Hike. Photo by Bruce Hansen.