How to Adapt to Seasonal Changes While in the Woods
Springtime can be a fantastic time of year to head outside, dust off the remnants of winter and get the body and mind re-acclimated to living with nature. However, the spring is also a period of transition that presents a number of challenges that can creep up without a lot of warning. Let’s take a look at some things to expect to encounter in the field so that you can plan accordingly.
You Will be Cold
There is a good chance that you will get cold at some point, even as the days get longer and temperatures start to climb. Nights can still produce temperatures that are far below our normal comfort levels. The ground can be cold as frost or dew form at night and evaporate in the morning. Even a little bit of wind can produce a chill in the air that feels much cooler than what the actual temperature reads. All told, expect to deal with some broad and unexpected temperature fluctuations throughout the day and pack accordingly.
You Will Get Wet
Whether you are caught in an unexpected storm, encounter the aforementioned dew or frost, or have to trudge through mushy, water-logged ground, chances are that you will get wet. Remember that wilderness areas are usually the last places where snow and ice melts due to the foliage that shields the ground from the sun. Make sure that your boots have been treated to make them water-resistant, take some extra socks to keep your feet dry and bring an extra change of clothes. Consider also bringing things like a poncho or tarp as well as some plastic bags that can be used to protect your gear.
You Will Work Harder
Expect to have to put more effort into tasks that could otherwise be accomplished with ease during the summer. Some examples include having to spend more time foraging for dry firewood, taking more time to scout a site and set up camp or having to move slowly through slippery, muddy terrain. Depending on the conditions you are encountering, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to find yourself working two or three times as hard to accomplish basic tasks. This requires more energy on your part, which will translate into needing more food and rest, particularly if you haven’t been in the field for a while.
Expect to be Surprised
The best rule of thumb for a successful outdoor encounter during the spring is to be ready for anything. Your fire-starters may not work efficiently. You may get dirtier than normal. Your risk of injury increases as you navigate terrain that may be unstable from the winter freeze and thaw. Think of these and other contingencies that may impact your time outdoors, and you’ll be able to adapt accordingly as needed.
That being said, getting outdoors as early in the season as possible will also go a long way toward helping you hone your skills and put your preparedness efforts to the test. It also introduces you to challenges that you will need to overcome if faced with a situation where you need to survive in the wilderness during the spring as well. The trick is to be prepared and be prudent so that the challenges you face don’t devolve into a life-threatening situation.