How To Be An All-Weather Hiker.
As Billy Connolly once proclaimed; “There is no such thing as bad weather. Only the wrong clothes.” Here are my tips on how to be an all-weather hiker.
And it really is true. The weather should not scare you out of heading outside and discovering the landscapes and their varying carpets. One mountain can look so different in all seasons, and I think it’s important to know how much the seasons can change the terrain, and how you can deal with it.
We have hiked in all weathers. Sun, snow, rain, hail and very high winds. It has never put us off, and in actual fact, my favourite time of the year to hike is in the colder months.
Mostly, because there are less people to contend with!
When hiking in warm weather, it is important to stay hydrated. The clearer the fluids, the better for you. We have a bottle from Water To Go which means we are never without water as long as we stay next to a water source. The bottle filters the water to make it drinkable for us. I find walking when the heat is on my back quite tough so we make sure to take plenty of breaks and not to push ourselves too hard.
Keep a layer of clothing on, as to not get sunburn, but make sure it is light and breezy.
Sunstroke/heatstroke and heat exhaustion can be very serious and it is always best to arm yourself with knowledge about the differences. A basic overview is that Sunstroke is caused by over exposure to the suns’ rays. It can lead to the body’s temperature rising to dangerous levels of hyperthermia. Signs of heatstroke include being desperately thirsty, nausea/fainting/vomiting, headaches, feeling delirious, and even having seizures.
Heatstroke is less serious, but can have similar symptoms due to feeling very hot, and your body’s water and salt levels dropping low.
To treat heatstroke you should cool slowly. Move to a cool place and drink plenty of water. Lie down and raise your feet slightly, and cool the skin at the wrists, back of the neck and the feet. Spray water lightly on the skin.
Call 999 if the patient does not feel better after 30 minutes of the above exercises, if they are confused or having seizures/fits/loss of consciousness.Information gathered from NHS resources.
Did you know our skin is waterproof?! We will not turn into a pile of mush if we step out in the rain!
Have you taken a child out when it is raining? They have the most fun. Stomping in puddles, catching rain drops on their tongue, and chasing falling drops on leaves. Pure and innocent.
Wear waterproof layers. Grab a waterproof cover for your rucksack and off you go. Keep to higher ground if there are flood risks and make sure the route avoids large marsh areas in case the ground gets boggy.
Good boots are imperative for any weather, but particularly for rain. Nobody likes soggy toes. We like Decathlon shoes as a cheap and cheerful option for the kids, as they grow far too quick for us to spend hundreds of pounds on shoes. The shoes are all marked with their waterproof properties and the website has a helpful guide on which ones to choose.
Navigational courses are a must for anybody who wants to test out extreme weather conditions. But if you can’t access one, then Ordnance Survey have some great guides on reading maps on their website. I regularly read their archives to make sure we don’t get ourselves in trouble if the weather changes on us.
Which it has done. On a few occasions!
With fog or low lying clouds, it’s always good to mark your location with physical structures and to make note of the directions you are heading in. Please don’t rely on mobile phones, as cold temperatures drain a battery in seconds.
Teach yourself how to use a map and a compass, and get the kids involved too. This is a life skill that everybody should know.
Who doesn’t love a play in the snow?! Snowball fights, toboggans, snow angels. The world looks so clean and fresh under a powder blanket. This is why I love being outside in all the different seasons. If we visit a place for the first time in the snow, when we re-visit, it’s as though we have never been before. Everything looks so different and it is a new adventure all over again.
Things get a little trickier if you decide to “tackle that ridge you’ve been wanting to try”, or “head up that mountain that we’ve done so many times before in the summer”. Please don’t be naive as to how extreme weather changes can be.
As you get higher, it gets colder. And with the cold, comes ice. What looks like a patch of snow, is actually a block of ice. Not good if you’re wearing trainers with a 100ft drop below.
Please, make sure you have the right equipment if you are venturing out in the colder months.
Good stable footwear is required, crampons if necessary. We always carry foil blankets and hand warmers. Walking poles are great to test how deep a snowdrift may be. You don’t want to find yourself falling down a large hole or embankment!
If you’re being very adventurous, ice picks come in handy to create a path, and rope is sensible to carry too.
In early 2019, we ventured out to a few destinations. Only for the wind to push and pull us in all directions. There isn’t much in the way of equipment to help with a windy situation, but as a woman, a good hair tie and a buff was very welcome.
Balaclavas help to keep the wind off little faces, but ultimately, this was the weather condition that wore us down the most.
We tried to head up Parkhouse and Chrome Hill, but couldn’t get even halfway up due to 40mph winds.
We had a #HikerKidz meet up at Mam Tor and had to abandon due to 50mph winds!
It didn’t beat us completely as we just changed our course to low ground and even found a cave to shelter in and have our lunch.
How To Be An All-Weather Hiker.
Overall, I would keep these points in mind about all kinds of weather walking.
- Research where you plan to hike, and make a plan B. If you get caught in a bog, or a hail storm; or it’s too hot to be exposed, make sure there are points along the way to shelter in.
- Have good kit. Waterproof boots. A well fitting rucksack that doesn’t rub if sweating. A first aid kit.
- Read A Map. Please please please, get some basic knowledge about maps and using a compass.
- Tell people where you will be. If an emergency arises, your location will be traceable.
- Find the pub. A warm open fire is the best part of ending a hike in cold weather, and the promise of an ice -cream in the heat helps push the kids in the final mile. This is a very important step. DON’T MISS IT OUT!
- Most importantly; Have Fun! We don’t go out in all weathers as torture, or a punishment for the end of the working week. It is to explore the surroundings around us. To maintain a healthy lifestyle and to clear our mind of those rubbish cobwebs that build up over time.
In my mind, there’s no such thing as perfect weather. We all have our preferences.
Disclaimer – if you are looking to head out and do high peaks, or long arduous hikes in rougher weather, it is always best to seek out professional help in the form of a mountain guide such as Scott Mcalister or navigational course guides.