As spring in Utah alternates between hot and snow, hiking season has definitely arrived. Unfortunately for us, the snow is usually on the weekends, and the hot is mid-week. Shandy has been tied down by his work lately, so we can’t just throw everything over and go hiking mid-week right now. Even so, I wanted to share some pointers with you
about how to take best advantage of spring hiking season.
- The most important step is to prepare your mind. Don’t be depressed because of the weather, but get your mind set to take advantage of the great weather the moment it happens.
- Have some plans in mind (and maps printed out.) Spring weather is unpredictable, but you can be ready to go when good weather arrives.
- Check out books at the library such as “Best Day Hikes” in your area, or search the internet for hikes that are within driving distance. Print out maps and have those prepared so that if the weather is good, you can take advantage of it.
- Keep hiking snacks ready. We allow junk food while we are hiking, although rarely at other times. I buy water bottles, Pringles (they hold up well inside a backpack), pretzels, Gatorade and candy and stash it for the unexpected hiking trip. If I have a (hidden) cupboard stock, I don’t have to do a last minute grocery trip.
- Review your equipment. Spring is a great time to review your equipment and make sure everything is in good repair. Backpacks do wear out, although they can often be repaired with a little needle and thread work. Make sure everyone has good hiking clothing – jeans with seams that do not rub, sweatshirts that pack into a daypack well.
- Pre-pack your packs. First-aid equipment, batteries, headlamps, rain ponchos, extra socks, hats and gloves can “live” in your backpack. I often pre-pack water bottles and granola bars so that we have a start on snacks. If your backpack is ready to go, you can throw in snacks, maps and camera and be ready to go.
- Make a master packing list for car camping, day hiking, and backpacking trips. I maintain three separate lists because I pack different gear depending on where I am going. We have more padding to sleep on when we are car camping (obviously we don’t carry an air mattress or pillows when we backpack!) I have been reviewing those lists and making sure that they are updated. As the kids grow, they can carry more of their own comforts, but I still don’t allow them to become loaded down with too much stuff.
- Review backpacking gear lists, and make sure you are fully equipped. Reviewing these lists and crosschecking with your own list can help you evaluate oversights. Remember, just because it is on someone’s list doesn’t mean it has to be on your list. Backpacker magazine has good gear lists, and it is good to review what you have and what you really need.
- Freeze some water bottles for the cooler. No matter how long your hike, it is nice to come back to some cold drinks. I freeze water in used 2-liter soda bottles to be a source of constant cool in our cooler. These are nice because they won’t leave your cheese floating in melted ice, and still keep everything very cold.
These are the things I am doing in the snow today so that as soon as the sunshine breaks – Saturday, Sunday, Monday? – I can hit the trail with my family. Hope you’re enjoying your spring as well.