Staying Safe When Days are Short
The air is growing warmer, the early blooms are popping up on trail — but the long days of summer are still a few months away.
It’s April. The air is growing warmer, the early blooms are popping up on trail — but the long days of summer are still a few months away. When choosing your weekend adventures, make sure to keep the amount of daylight in mind and plan accordingly.
Here are three tips to make sure you never get caught in the dark on your next outing:
Decide on a turnaround time — and stick to it. It’s easy to get lost in the moment and forget about the impending sunset when you’re nearing your destination. Without the proper night-hiking gear, you may find yourself fumbling on a dark and potentially dangerous return hike. By setting a realistic turnaround time before you start, you can help ensure that you never get stuck in adverse conditions or miss your check-in time.
Get an early start. Starting a long hike at 4 p.m. may be a realistic option for summer, but not for the shoulder seasons. Try getting out the door earlier to maximize your time outdoors, and have a shorter, close-in backup plan if you realize you’re running a little late. If worse comes to worst, it may be safer to save your hike for a different day.
Pack the Ten Essentials and a few extras. Packing the Ten Essentials is good practice all year long, but shoulder-season hiking can call for a few extra considerations. Extra flashlight batteries and plenty of layers are critical in case you accidentally get stuck out past sunset. Temperatures drop quickly when the sun dips behind the trees, so you should have enough clothing to keep warm through the night and find your way back to the trailhead.
Get more seasonal safety tips at wta.org/trailsmarts.