Adventure Mom: Newbie Guide To 'Shoulder Season' Adventuring

Adventure Mom: Newbie Guide To 'Shoulder Season' Adventuring

We are approaching the end of August, which means we are on the cusp of autumn--another season of change. Just like spring, autumn is a transition season, otherwise referred to as a 'shoulder season'. Adventuring during shoulder seasons can be dicey, especially to the newbies out there. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the beauty that autumn has to offer. It just means there are differences to be aware of!

Clothing & Weather

As always, dressing in layers is crucial. During shoulder seasons, it is absolutely essential. One minute you may feel like a pig on a spit, the next minute, you're catching snowflakes on your tongue. You may roll your eyes at this, but trust me, it happens all the time! Think about it, alpine peaks are snow covered all year long. Take that into consideration when you dress for your adventures. The elevation at your house, or even the trailhead parking lot will not be the same as the end point of your adventure if it includes moderate to significant elevation gain. For that reason, layers are a must.
If you're worried about your infant, or your pack-riding child, bring a lightweight blanket like this Little Unicorn Deluxe Muslin Swaddle. It is tough to do clothing changes on infants and small children every time the temperature changes. If they are riding in a pack, chances are they stay fairly cool (unless they are right up against your body). These lightweight muslin blankets are easy to pack, soft, and offer slight protection from a breeze, or provide a bit of shade in the sunshine.

10 Essentials

The 10 essentials are important to bring on every adventure outing, no matter what. The shoulder seasons offer different challenges (i.e. water runoff, shifting snowpacks, avalanche, mud, unpredictable weather, fallen trees, trail erosion, etc.) and it is vital to be prepared for anything. Even if you've been on a trail a thousand times, during the shoulder seasons, it could look remarkably different. You could find yourself lost or injured. This is why you always need your 10 essentials! The 10 Essentials
  • Navigation (map and compass)
  • Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  • Insulation (extra clothing)
  • Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  • First-aid supplies
  • Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  • Repair kit and tools
  • Nutrition (extra food)
  • Hydration (extra water)
  • Emergency shelter
  • For more information about the 10 essentials, read my other blog post all about it!

Plan Ahead

Check trail reports ahead of time. Like I mentioned before, weather can vary drastically between what you see and feel at home versus what is actually happening on the trail you are hoping to hike (i.e. drizzling rain at home can mean heavy snowfall on the trail). Many times, hikers and like-minded adventurers will post updates about trail conditions on online forums or trail association websites. Always let someone know where you are going and what weather conditions you anticipate. Give them a time frame of when they should expect a call from you verifying your safe return.

If weather conditions are anticipated to be out of your comfort level or above your level of expertise, wait for a better day. Many times, conditions involving snow and ice require advanced gear and training in order to use it safely and proficiently. Never go into conditions you know you cannot handle. You will be putting yourself and others at risk.

Written by Lindsay Helm
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