“Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard on toes
cold nose dripping
creek music, heart music
smell of sun on gravel
I pledge allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island
under the sun --
With joyful interpenetration for all.”
-- Gary Snyder (from Deep Ecology, Gibbs M. Smith, 1985)
* * * * *
Labor Day (a week ago) is popularly considered to mark the start of the fall season, although it’ll be another 11 days before autumn officially arrives with the equinox.
Which doesn’t mean that consistently cooler weather will now be the norm. Warm spells and even heat waves remain possible, although they’ll become less likely.
The fall season is a favorite one for many hikers and others, given that temps are often just about ideal for hiking. But we need to remember how to dress in autumn.
Some days will start on the cool-to-cold side. Temperatures can be in the 30s and 40s early in the early morning, especially at higher mountain elevations.
After months of warm weather it’s easy to forget what it’s like to feel chilled -- and important to remember to start bringing warm layers on ALL hikes from now on.
Occasionally on fall hikes we have someone in the group who is uncomfortably cold and has little or nothing warm to put on – not a happy situation!
Standard hiking clothing from now till spring should ALWAYS include at least one warm fleece or wool sweater, and/or a light jacket, gloves, and a hat.
Remember that the predicted temperature range for the day is usually for where we live, not where we’re hiking. On a windy morning it can sometimes be quite nippy.
There will also be hikes, however, when we won’t need extra layers, except maybe at the start. On other days they’ll be essential and you’ll be glad you brought them.
Adjusting clothing – putting layers on and taking them off -- comes with the territory of cool-weather hiking. It shouldn’t really be a big deal or a hassle.
As many of you know, autumn hikes in the often brisk and deliciously fresh mountain air can be a total, unmitigated pleasure. Absolutely exhilarating, in fact!
-- Charlie Cook