Trails for everyone, forever
After a long, gray Northwest winter, the first hints of spring incite frenzy among hikers. We’ve spent the winter fantasizing about the amazing places we’ll go when summer comes, and now we want to hit the trails! The days are getting longer, the sun is peeking out more often and the temperatures are climbing. Summer is coming, but it’s not here yet.
By Lindsay Leffelman
Summer hiking adventures are even more fantastic when you spend the spring preparing. Naturally, the best way to ensure you’re ready for the longer summer hikes on your wish list is to hit the trails now. Spring hiking in Washington usually means hiking in the rain, though, and winter lingers in the mountains. Here are tips to help you plan your spring trips and take your hiking to the next level.
As with any hiking trip, planning is key. Choosing the right trail for this time of year is critical, as is choosing the right trail for your experience level. With so many trails, the options can be overwhelming. A good place to start is by drawing on the experiences of other hikers. The trip reports on WTA’s website are an invaluable resource. Use the advanced search options to the perfect trail.
When reading trip reports, consider:
You will find a number of trails that you’d like to tackle, either now or in the summer, when conditions improve. The My Backpack feature on the WTA website helps you keep track of trails you want to visit. After creating an account, it’s easy to save trails to My Backpack from the Hiking Guide entry by clicking the “Save Hike to My Backpack” button. Anytime you log in to My Backpack, you’ll be able to access information about the trails you’ve saved.
If you need more personal help, the knowledgeable staff at ranger stations are happy to help you prepare for a trip.
You can count on rainy spring days in the Northwest. Don’t let the rain keep you inside. If you do, you’ll be missing out on a unique outdoor experience and your days on the trail will be limited. With the appropriate gear, you can safely and comfortably hike in the rain.
Any time you go hiking, it is important to carry the 10 Essentials with you. One of the essentials, extra clothing, is particularly important when hiking during the spring months. To stay comfortable, layering is vital.
It’s hard to have a good time when you’re uncomfortable, so gearing up properly for a romp in the rain is essential. Enjoying yourself in less-than-ideal weather requires more than just the right outerwear, though. It also requires a change in your mindset.
One of the perks of hiking through the spring is that when summer arrives, your body will be in tip-top condition. Instead of huffing and puffing up the path, you’ll be cruising at a steady clip because you will have prepared your lungs and muscles.
Just like with any fitness regimen, building up your strength and endurance takes time. You may be familiar with the “10 percent rule” that is commonly referenced among runners and other fitness enthusiasts. The 10 percent rule simply states that the intensity, duration or distance of your exercise should not increase by more than 10 percent each week in order to avoid injury. If you hiked 5 miles last weekend, add on an additional 0.5 mile the next week. If your last hike had 1,000 feet of elevation gain, aim for a gain of 1,100 feet on your next outing. Increasing your hiking volume in a slow, steady and safe manner will ensure you are ready for harder hikes in a few months.
Planning and preparation are always worth the effort. Use the change in the seasons as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a summer of outdoor explorations. When the balmy days of summer arrive, you’ll be thankful you did.