Hiking during mud season requires extra planning, extra caution, and extra attention to the environment.
- Stay on the trail- During mud season nature is much more vulnerable, soil is more susceptible to erosion, and vegetation can become easily damaged. To help protect fragile vegetation and prevent trail erosion, it is important to keep to the trail even if it means trudging through deep mud. Waterproof shoes, gaiters, and extra socks will be helpful in keeping your feet warm and dry.
- Remember trails and conditions can dramatically change- It might appear to be a warm and springlike day at the trailhead but it is common to encounter deep mud, rushing water, and snow or ice on the way up to higher elevations. Rocks can be slippery, loose, and unstable as water from melting snow seeps down the trails. Bring traction devices such as micro spikes or crampons for any left over snow and ice. Trekking poles may also come in handy to help keep you stable on slippery footing.
- Give yourself extra time- The varying trail conditions may slow your usual hiking pace. Give yourself some extra time when planning hikes and keep in mind that even if the days are getting warmer, mornings and nights in the mountains may have a significant drop in temperature. Pack extra layers to be prepared for any change in condition.
- Look for lower elevation alternatives- Spring and mud season are great times to explore new trails and peaks that you may have passed up due to their lower elevation. Staying off popular trails helps reduce trail erosion and can help protect fragile alpine negation during this vulnerable season.
Having the right gear not only keeps you dry and safe when you are hiking it also makes the hike that much more enjoyable knowing you are prepared! Here are some basic things that you should have ready to go before you get out there.
- Waterproof boots
- Traction – microspikes, crampons
- Trekking poles
- Waterproof jacket
- Extra layers
- Extra socks
- Emergency and first aid kit
Special thanks to out friends Amber Pitcher & Ariel for putting together this guide!
Check them out over at Instagram @ambpitch