Spring Hiking Tips | Hiking through the seasons

Spring Hiking Tips | Hiking through the seasons

Spring is in the air here in New Zealand, well, actually it’s inching towards summer but technically it’s still spring. In my humble opinion, spring is a great time to shake off those winter blues and get back outside again. It’s not too warm and the snow isn’t as plentiful (I still have flashbacks of my last hike in the snow). So without further ado, let’s spring into hiking this season with these top Spring Hiking Tips. See what I did there? A corny joke. Boom!

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Tips for hiking in the changeable spring weather. What to do before a hike and how to safely hike in the conditions
Lovely boggy track

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Be aware of variable temperatures

This time of year Mother Nature can have more mood swings than a 12-year-old on the cusp of teenagehood (not looking at my son…), as a result, the weather can be changeable and variable. The temperature swings can be more extreme, especially when there is an elevation change.

Top Tip for getting through the varying temperatures:

Wear layers, especially layers of the less bulky variety. Try and have a base layer, mid-layer, fleece jacket or sweater and an outter wind/rain barrier. It is tempting to take a bulky winter coat however, lighter layers to adjust to the temperatures are best.

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Tips for hiking in the changeable spring weather. What to do before a hike and how to safely hike in the conditions
Cold up the tops and warm at the carpark

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Daylight Hours

Although the days are getting longer, they are still not quite at peak daylight capacity as they are in summer. The sun once it decides to disappear for the day does so rather quickly.

Top Tip for spring daylight hours:

Chuck that headtorch in your pack. Just in case. Remember to make sure it has working batteries in it or else you will end up like I did on my last multi-day hike and you will end up having to use the torch on your phone. Especially difficult while using the loo and trying to prop it up as you are making a cup of tea can prove difficult.

Plan your hike accordingly and start earlier to make the most of the daylight hours that are on offer.

 

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Do your research

As with any hike, do your research.

This includes:

  • Check the temperature, rainfall and chill factor.
  • In spring, a lot of the walks in New Zealand are closed for lambing or calving as they may cross private farmland. Be respectful of these and don’t enter any land that is closed. Farmers are more likely to put their grumpy pants on and stop allowing hikers to cross it if too many people do this.
  • Check to see if there have been any slips or closures on your hike. The Department of Conservation website has alerts in place for different trails and any closures or warnings.
  • Ask a local. Locals have insider tips, tricks and knowledge that are wee nuggets of gold.
  • If you are planning to stay in a hut, check what facilities the hut has before you go. Some backcountry huts have only the bare minimum, while others are a bit more luxurious (for example, an outside loo, bonus!).

 

DOC has alerts in place on their website and updates them accordingly
DOC has alerts in place on their website and updates them accordingly

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Sunburn

Although it is harder to sunburn in spring than it is summer, it is still possible. The rays are deceptively strong, even if they do look a little on the dull side at times.

Top Tip for combatting sunburn:

Always pack (and use) sun protection, even on an overcast day. This includes sunscreen, a hat with a brim and clothing that covers your legs and arms.

 

 

Spring Hiking Tips | The water flows faster

Creeks and rivers flow higher and faster in the spring than any other time of the year due to the melting snow and rainy weather. For this reason, early springtime the creeks and rivers can be more dangerous.

Top Tips for river crossings:

If you are hiking where you will need to cross a creek or river, check the rainfall for the previous days and if it is high, consider doing a different hike instead.

If you come to a creek and it is flowing dangerously fast, turn back or choose an alternative route. The trail will be there another day. Nothing is worth putting your life at risk.

If you can, take a class on how to cross water bodies safely. There is a knack to it (which I will touch on in a different post). We are lucky in Kiwiland that we are an outdoorsy bunch and there are lots of resources out there to take advantage of. The Mountain Safety Council has a huge list of outdoorsy type courses you can take a squizz at. This one is a particularly helpful one on river crossings. OTNZ (Outdoor Training New Zealand) also offers a range of courses held in different regions around NZ.

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Tips for hiking in the changeable spring weather. What to do before a hike and how to safely hike in the conditions
Luckily this creek was nice and calm

 

Spring Hiking Tips | What to wear

With the varying temperatures, there’s the old, ‘what should I wear?!’ cry. Well, my friend. Layers. Always wear layers. Be like an onion.

You will need *clears throat*:

  • a base layer (such as a quick dry top),
  • a mid layer (something loose and cool),
  • a top layer (fleece top or sweater)
  • and an outter shell (windproof/waterproof jacket).

When working together your layers will keep you warm and dry or cool and comfortable. How handy! The trick is to layer up and de-layer as soon as you feel your core temperature change. You don’t want to overheat or freeze.

Top Tip on what to wear:

I always like to start a little cool, not freezing cold but cool enough that I am ever so slightly bordering on goosebumps level. But not quite. The reasoning behind this is that I warm up quickly and it saves me from stopping 5 minutes into my hike to strip off.

As soon as you stop to have a rest or a snack, put on a layer. You will be surprised and how quickly you cool down again. Take the layer off before you get going again. Your core temperature should stay nice and comfortable throughout if you do this.

 

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Muddy Conditions

Winter run off. It’s a thing. All that melting snow that causes faster-flowing creeks and rivers is called winter run off. Not only does it make the creeks and rivers higher and faster flowing, it often causes trails to become boggy and slippery as well as fun tricks such as mud holes, rock slides and eroded tracks.

Top Tips for navigating muddy conditions:

Wear a decent pair of boots. Spring isn’t the time for sneakers/trainers, your feet will thank you for a good, sturdy pair of hiking boots. Ones above the ankle are best as not only will they support your feet and ankles better, but the mud has a harder time entering your boots and weighing them down. Couple your boots with a pair of gaiters and you will be as sweet as a nut.

Again, check the weather conditions. If it has been raining heavily in the days leading up to your hike and you know that the track is prone to turning into one big mud slush, maybe aim for a different trail.

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Tips for hiking in the changeable spring weather. What to do before a hike and how to safely hike in the conditions
Typical spring boots

 

The best reasons to take a hike in Spring

  • There are flowers everywhere. Like seriously.
  • Misty mornings and blue skies. What’s not to love?
  • Winter is becoming a distant memory, summer looms just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs. And maybe burn a few of the comfort food indulging calories stored up over winter.
  • Spring is a great time to take photos. The contrasts and bright abundance of colours make for some spectacular shots.
  • Keep an eye out for all those wee babies emerging. Spring is the ‘baby animal cuteness’ peak.
  • You get the best of summer and winter. Peaks can still be snowy but the days are longer and warmer.

So there you go, now get outside and go for a hike!

Jem

x

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Spring Hiking Tips | Tips for hiking in the changeable spring weather. What to do before a hike and how to safely hike in the conditions

 

Spring Hiking Tips | Tips for hiking in the changeable spring weather. What to do before a hike and how to safely hike in the conditions

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