“Every sound was stilled, every light vanished, and a sudden wave of peace enveloped the wanderer. What a small space is occupied by human life in the vastness of the mountains!
The valley was all sunk in shadow, but an undefined glare appeared high up in the dark sky and attracted my gaze; all the highest peaks of the chain... were still glowing, glowing softly with a hidden flame, as if they were illuminated by an internal fire that did not shine through the stone. It was a calm, strong light, that made no shadows, that lit up no other part of the earth or the sky, but wrapped the peaks alone in a mantle of golden red, the red of old amber, the red of wavy hair, or of transparent leaves in the October sun.”
-- Guido Rey (from Everest: The West Ridge, David Brower, Editor, Ballentine Books, 1968)
* * * * *
We experienced major spells of heat and humidity this summer, as you know. Both locally and around the planet all-time monthly temperature records were broken.
Thankfully, as usual, conditions were much less extreme in the mountain areas where we hiked. I don’t believe temps ever got above the 70s on any of our hikes.
After months of mild-to-hot weather, it’s now time to start preparing for a big transition into cooler temperatures as we move through September and October.
It’s easy to get careless about how much clothing we wear and bring on a hike after habitually not having to think about such things for several months.
As it says on our confirmation for fall trips, it’s time to start bringing a warm fleece or wool sweater, and/or a light jacket, gloves, and a hat on ALL hikes.
Temperatures during this season are often delightful and perfect for hiking, but in the cooler mountains, mornings can start out quite chilly (as low as the 30s or 40s).
After a long summer we may forget what it’s like to feel uncomfortably cold, an experience always worth avoiding, and totally preventable with the right clothing.
Some hiking days we won’t need extra layers, except maybe at the very start. On other days, especially windy and nippy ones, protective clothing will be essential.
In anticipating the months ahead, one thing is certain: hiking rarely gets more pleasurable and exhilarating than it is out in the brisk and tasty autumn air.
-- Charlie Cook