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Hiking in the PNW Fall Season: the Ten Essentials

Oh, I adore summer with its longer days and relaxed vibes, but I absolutely love fall. Having grown up here in the Northwest, the crisp morning air feels like perfection after the dry, hot August air. And, cooler temperatures paired with sunny skies equals perfect hiking weather! As we head back on the trail during this transitionary time, it’s always a good idea to check your Fall Ten Essentials packing list.

Here is an example of what I keep in my backpack for this season.

1 - Sun Protection

Keep sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses in your backpack. When hiking up any peak you will need them regardless of the weather.

2 - Water

Bring more than you think you need. Fall mornings start off cool, but can end with much higher temps, especially during the month of September.

"Pack the “Ten Essentials” every time you head out for a hike. Whether you plan to be gone for a couple of hours or several months, make sure to pack these items." – American Hiking Society

3 - Food

Bring a hearty lunch, but always pack more than you need. Nutrient-dense foods like nuts are lightweight but don’t eat up a lot of backpack real estate and can stay in your pack until the next trip. They are just the thing you need if you need some serious calories.

4 - Navigation Tools

In addition to my mapping systems - map, compass, and GPS; I always check a reliable website like Washington Trails Association for an update on trail and access road info. It’s worth the five minutes of research to avoid a couple of hours of disappointment.

5 - Layers

Fall hiking can feel like a constant wardrobe change on the trail some days! The layers come on and off depending on the weather. Don’t forget to keep a packable rain jacket with you. Getting wet can lead to not only an uncomfortable hike but hypothermia can set in even in mild weather.

6 - Trail Safety Items

I carry a whistle, firestarter, headlamp, and space blanket. Chances are you will never need these items but will be glad to have them if you do have an emergency.

7 - First Aid Kit

It’s always worth the time to take a quick inventory every season. Some products expire and emergency candy might have melted all over your Band-Aids…yes, speaking from experience! Check your stash!

8 - Shelter

I love my mini-tarp. I use it as a picnic blanket, sun/rain shelter, and even as a tablecloth! You can find a small, packable tarp online.

9 - Multi-Tool/Knife

I use my Swiss Army Knife all the time! While I haven’t had to use it to create tinder for a fire or some other emergency, I have used it to cut up cheese, spread peanut butter on a cracker, and cut sap out of the dog’s fur! So handy!

10 - Extras

Sit pad, hiking poles, travel journal, book, glasses, and anything else to enjoy your hike. During a longer hike, I typically take a long lunch to sit and relax. Last week, I sat near a lake for over two hours reading my book, napping, and just gazing out at the water. Using my mini tarp, I spread out my camp on a flat rock and enjoyed the solitude. Divine!

Being prepared with the Ten Essentials for Fall will ensure a happy hiking experience. Wishing you a wonderful Fall season on the trail!

Happy trails!

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