Undoubtedly the mountains tend to boast some of the United States' most gorgeous array of fall foliage. The colors range from the neon orange and yellow of the Aspen trees to the deep purple and red of the Mountain Maple. Fall camping and hiking offers an up-close view of the splendid leaves and often some of the best weather.
If you decide to go camping this Fall in the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, the Catskills, or any mountain area, take note of these five safety tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip.
1. Weather Forecasts
Even in late Summer, higher elevations may begin to see light snowfall. As the Fall progresses, snow may become heavier in some places. Don't get caught unexpectedly in the snow. Some popular hiking places, such as those in Colorado, are known for having clear skies one day and a snowstorm the next. Remain aware of changing weather forecasts before and during your mountain camping trip.
2. Layers, Layers, Layers
Fall weather is known to change quickly and dramatically hour-to-hour and day-to-day. Pack and dress in several layers for the best comfort in all conditions. Quick drying clothing that is lightweight and wind resistant is ideal for the Fall season. Additionally, a pair of wool socks will allow breath-ability in the afternoon sun, but keep toes warm in the cool nights. Finally, don't forget the sunglasses -- this small essential protects your eyes and definitely gives the Fall colors an even more dramatic appearance.
3. Cook Times
Especially if you're headed to the Rockies or the Alaska Range, you'll need to consider increased cooking times due to elevation and colder temperatures. With the longer wait, be sure to start your camp fire early enough in the day to prevent "hanger" from getting the best of you. (I.e., hungry tummies often equal snappy attitudes with camping partners.)
4. Be Bear Aware
The Fall season is the time of year that bears are gearing up for winter. They are hunting for food and your campsite might offer some yummy treats. Keep a clean campsite and properly store food to avoid any unwanted animals.
5. Stay Put in Sudden Storms
Even the most weather aware hiker may encounter an isolated storm in the backcountry. If you've prepared well with proper attire, you'll be better off staying put in a storm. Continued hiking in foul weather often yields tragic results. Just wait it out and eat a protein bar.
Of course, this list of camping safety tips is not exhaustive, but just meant as a friendly reminder to be prudent in your outdoor activities. Have fun and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, and pick up a pair of affordable sunglasses from Pugs at your local convenience store on the way there!