Planning The Perfect Autumn Hike
Story by Cheri Woodsmall
Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time for those lovely Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the crispness of Hard Apple Cider Ale, the addicting smell of S’mores roasting over a late night campfire – and of course, our favorite thing – enjoying the wonder and glorious beauty of Nature during a long fall hike.
Before you hit the trail, we have put together a list of must-haves to ensure you have the perfect day.
Do Your Research
There are hundreds of trails around Kansas City and surrounding areas. Area parks and lakes have plenty to choose from that range from paved to crushed limestone to rocky terrain. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, Kansas and Missouri have plenty to choose from that are within a 3 hour drive that will afford you a full day of exercise and the beautiful scenery of the season.
Tech Is Your Friend
We’ve all been there. You are strolling along, taking pictures of the beautiful colors of the landscape and you look up and are completely turned around. Don’t fret my little wanderer. You can find a GPS on almost anything these days – watches, phones and specialty GPS products. Note: Always tell someone you know where you will be hiking and when you expect to return. Check in with them so they know you are safe.
And speaking of pictures, yes your phone can take some pretty decent photos, but don’t forget about Mother Nature and her surprise pop up showers. If your phone or camera isn’t waterproof, be sure to carry a waterproof bag to slip it into so it stays safe and dry.
Finally, make sure to download this bad boy before you venture out. Alltrails.com not only makes it amazingly simple to see the degree of difficulty and length of the trails, but also allows you to download maps and gives you ratings of each one. So awesome!
Pack The Right Gear
You’ve reached a high cliff and you want to stop, rest a minute and take it all in. For those really wanting to relax for a bit, pack a lightweight stowable hammock – they can be assembled in seconds, and are super easy to pack. Warning: They’re incredibly comfy and you may nod off for a bit. Before you know it, dusk is approaching and you still have 6 miles to go. Not a great thing if you’re in the middle of the woods.
If you’ve been outside at all, you know the bugs are out in full force and can be even more brutal in the middle of the woods. From flies to midges and ticks to chiggers, there’s nothing more irritating than nasty little insects bothering you the entire time. Keep yourself protected with insect repellant. Look for ones that contain DEET or if you prefer natural, there are herbal blends of essential oils that work together to discourage unwanted flies, mosquitoes and other insects. Also, wearing long sleeves and long pants will help thwart these pesky guys.
When hiking long distances, it is always best to take extra care. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in the middle of a trail with the sunlight quickly disappearing. Use extra precaution and carry a water and a weather resistant light of sorts. A head lamp is perfect for when the sun goes down and you need to keep your visibility as optimum as possible.
Hydration Is No Joke
When you are active, you are quickly losing electrolytes. Before you even leave for the hike, it is important to drink at least a liter of water. You should take plenty of water with you as well. Aim at carrying enough water to enable you to arrive at the next source well hydrated, but not so much that you get there with a couple of liters still to drink.
There are so many options now; it can be a bit intimidating to buy the right clothes for hiking. Especially with the weather changing the way it does this time of year. Start with a great pair of comfortable and rugged hiking boots. Make sure your feet stay dry with the right socks – look for words like breathable, synthetic fiber or wool. Layering clothing is important too. Choose a lightweight, breathable jacket and remember, brighter is this time of year. Fear not, my trail goddess! Yes, you can dress the part and still look great in the selfies!
So get out there, Kansas City! Enjoy this gorgeous time of year and take in all the glorious color, as you know, it won’t last long! See you on the trail!