Written by Erika Seitz
Camping in the fall can be a delightful experience. There is nothing better than waking up to crisp frost on the leaves that have fallen. Many people prefer hike to camp rather than driving to campgrounds, because the views of all the fall foliage are breathtaking from the mountain tops. Another reason for fall camping is that campers do not have the constant nagging of our little mosquito and no see-um friends in the fall., just a few more layers and maybe a hotter fire.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when hiking and camping in the fall. Watch out for cold weather ailments such as hypothermia. One common misconception is that hypothermia becomes a hazard only in cold and freezing temperatures. Most hypothermia victims die in 40-55 degree weather. If you are concerned about hypothermia, here are some symptoms to recognize:
-Shivering, Numbness, Drowsiness, Marked muscular weakness, Mental confusion, Headaches, Failing eyesight, Slurred speech, Impaired judgment. Note: If the victim has not sought medical attention and the shivering stops, then the victim is very close to death.
Please don't let the risk of hypothermia deter you from enjoying the fall outdoors; as there are many things you can do to avoid it. When you get in from hiking, change your clothes. Whether you feel it or not, your pores produce high salt content which creates sweat. Drink liquids with concentrated sugar content, and warm liquids if available.
Another precaution and I can't stress this enough, is that if you are going to wander in the woods, whether it be bushwhacking to a trail or pitching a tent off the trail, PLEASE WEAR FLUORESCENTS. No matter what, you are a target. Many hunters do not look at what they are shooting at, if they see something moving, they shoot. It may seem odd, but it is hard to tell the difference between an animal and a human from 20 feet up in a tree. I have been in the woods and met many hunters. I would strongly recommend staying on trails and within state park boundaries, but if you must wander off, consider the consequences and protect yourself.
Always make sure you are aware of fire regulations when you camp. Some areas will not let you burn without a permit. Never leave a fire unattended, and never get too close to a fire because you are cold. Believe it or not, it is a quick way to get frostbite.
Fall and winter camping can be very peaceful as long as you pack for all weather and are prepared for cold weather. remember these simple precautions and it will be a blast! Always tell someone your plan before setting out, so that if by chance something does happen, rescue is available to you. Happy Trails!!