Camping is a popular pastime that’s good for both body and soul. Spending time immersed in Mother Nature’s beauty can decrease stress and create a sense of connection and well-being, while hiking, fishing, and related activities strengthen our bodies.
Though summer is the most popular season for camping, the fun doesn’t have to end just because autumn has arrived. Fall can be one of the best times of the year for spending time outdoors. Mosquitoes and other summer pests have mostly disappeared, as have the droves of other people clogging up your favorite destination and taking the best campsites. The changing leaves are a special treat, and the chill in the air makes nature hikes a little easier.
With a little extra planning, an autumn outing can be as good as, or better than, a summer camping trip. Here are some important things to consider:
– Wear layers. Autumn temperatures can be extremely unpredictable, with summer-like highs one day and downright wintry conditions the next. Even the warmest days can turn bitterly cold as the sun goes down. Be prepared for a variety of conditions and adjust your wardrobe accordingly.
– Wear a hat. Most of your body heat escapes from your head. This is especially critical at night, when temperatures can plummet close to freezing, but is also important to remember during the daytime. You can layer on all the clothes you want, but if your head is bare, it’s easy to become too cold.
– Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for cold weather. Being warm enough, especially while sleeping, can mean the difference between a happy memory and a trip to the hospital. A mummy bag is the best bet, because it keeps in the most warmth, especially form your head, where, to repeat, most of your body heat escapes. It’s also a good idea to use a sleeping pad to insulate yourself from the cold ground.
– Consider cooking times. Food takes longer to cook when it’s cold to begin with, and the days are shorter. Allow yourself enough time before it gets dark to cook.
– Be aware of wildlife. Bears and other animals are always a concern, but they can become even more of a danger in the autumn. As their food supply begins to die off, they become more determined in their foraging. Be sure to seal up any food you have in airtight containers — or in your car if it’s nearby — to prevent attracting them. Be on the lookout for bees and wasps, too. They become more active, and more aggressive, at this time of year.
By taking these simple precautions, you can continue enjoy crisp nights around a warm campfire for several more weeks to come!