By: Finding 4000' Staff
Hiking in the spring is fun and dangerous up north. Here are some things to consider before hitting the trail.
I hate the spring. The snow is gone, the trees are bare, the “lilacs breed from the dead earth”, and everything screams in the throws of awakening from snow covered slumber into and unforgiving world. Spring is the puberty of the seasons, and I just want it to be over. (by extension fall is the menopause of the seasons).
This is the kind of stuff you can’t get from Ryan at REI.
- There are more cases of hypothermia in the spring and fall than the winter. Hypothermia happens when hikers get wet. So be sure to pack a rain jacket. I don’t care what the weather says, bring a rain jacket or you will turn as purple as the kind bud I chief on the daily.
- The trail conditions will be all over the place. So check a trail report. Often there will be like no snow for the first mile, and then things get sketchy.
- In the spring sometimes monorails form on the trail. These are mounds of hard packed snow that run up the middle of the trail. You will probably need microspikes to deal with them, especially if they are hard and wet.
- Summits are still pretty dangerous in the spring. Depending on the amount of snow still hanging on, there can be considerable slippage.
- Parts of the trail that may have been easy in the summer will be downright impossible in the winter and spring. Play it safe. No summit is worth cracking your brain shell open.
- If there are river crossing, they may be difficult. Two years ago I was hiking in the spring, and I slipped in a river crossing. My tent slid out of the top of my pack and downstream (luckily I was able to recover it, and then hike down with a water logged tent weighing like 60lbs on my back)
- Don’t die. If you get halfway up a trail and realize you don’t have the gear you need to continue safely, then go get a beer or something. Always remember that you will have to be able to get down the trail that you are hiking up. Especially in snowy conditions heading down can be much more difficult and dangerous. People go missing and die, and we are often left wondering why they took some unnecessary risk.
- CHECK THE FREAKING WEATHER. If you are hiking in the Whites the Mount Washington Observatory provides a very in depth weather report.
- When you get home write a trail report so that others may be prepared and travel safely.