You guys – the official start of spring is only a couple of days away at the time of recording this and I am freaking out! Honestly, not even because I’m that excited about spring – but because that means that we are that much closer to summer. Which is my ultimate goal every year, to just survive the 9-month long winter that we have here and make it to summer so I can go backpacking again.
Anyway – in the meantime, I wanted to share some hiking tips and gear items to help us all get through this weird in-between time of year.
Listen to Episode 11: Hiking Tips For Spring
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Spring Hiking Gear
Let’s start with gear, here are some extra things you may want to consider buying and or packing to make your spring hikes a little more enjoyable.
Gaiters – If you also live somewhere super wet/muddy/snowy, waterproof gaiters can be a huge help in keeping the mud and snow out of your boots, off your socks, and will keep the bottom of your pant legs dry.
Good boots or trail runners – This is not the time to skimp on traction. Wear hiking boots or trail running shoes with as much grip as possible to help prevent slipping and sliding down the trail and over rocks. If you live in a colder climate, waterproof boots can be advantageous this time of year, but if you live somewhere warm or hot, I’d choose breathable, quick-drying boots over waterproof boots.
Trekking poles with snow/mud baskets – I almost always hike with trekking poles (year-round) but if you don’t already have baskets on the ends of your poles, it might be a good time to add some so your poles don’t sink down so much in the soft ground.
Rain gear – Again, I pretty much always carry a rain jacket with me, but am much more likely to also always carry rain pants and a pack cover in the springtime. I know some people think a pack cover is excessive, but I like to put on my pack if the ground is wet and gross (even if it’s not currently raining) then when I lay my pack on the ground, my pack doesn’t get wet and gross and I can sit on my pack during breaks.
Lots of layers – If you live in a very warm climate, this might not be as necessary, but for those of us who live in colder places that might be 65 and sunny or 35 and windy at any given point throughout the day, warm layers are key.
Sunscreen – especially on your face. Sometimes I get out of the habit of carrying or applying sunscreen over the winter when I spend more time inside and am 99% covered up when I do go outside, so when spring hits, it’s time to dig out the sunscreen again.
One last gear tip, as a surprise for yourself, leave a pair of clean, dry socks and maybe even a change of shoes in your car for after you’re done hiking, your feet will thank you.
Before we move onto wildlife safety tips for spring let me ask you something, are you a sticker junkie? Do you have stickers all over your Nalgenes and laptops and planners? I have something special just for you, this episode is brought to you by the Hiking Sticker Club – a monthly subscription where you get 2 new outdoor and adventure-themed stickers, designed by me, delivered straight to your door each month. You can join the club for just $5 a month for 6 months, and cancel anytime.
Wildlife Tips For Spring
I also wanted to touch on wildlife in springtime. I think that some people and some hikers have the impression that bears in particular and maybe even other wildlife are more aggressive in spring after coming out of hibernation or hyperphagia – this isn’t necessarily the case.
Bears, in particular, are not more aggressive in spring, however, they are obviously a lot more active than they were during previous months – so statistically, there are going to suddenly be more bear-human interactions, but they’re not suddenly more aggressive.
Also, springtime is when bears and lots of other animals have babies and cubs. If you do encounter a mama bear and cubs, yes she is going to be very protective of her cubs, and I use those words on purpose – her only goal is to keep a close eye on her cubs and make sure they are safe and that nothing is coming to get them.
That’s it. Again, she is not inherently more aggressive and not inherently coming to get you – however, yes, if you get too close to her cubs she will fuck you up – so just keep your distance and everyone wins ok? Ok.
The same goes for moose. Moose (outside of rutting season which is in the fall and a whole other story) are not inherently aggressive or out to get you, they can charge people if they feel threatened or you get too close to them – but again, keep your distance and everybody’s happy, even mama moose.
That’s it for now, if you like fun stickers as much as I do, treat yourself or gift your hiking buddy the monthly Hiking Sticker Club to get 2 new outdoorsy stickers in the mail each month.
And until next time, happy hiking.