Camping – Weather and the Seasons, A Guide for Camping
One of the great things about camping is the opportunity to get out into the outdoors and enjoy the environment. One of the potential downsides in camping is getting out into the outdoors and enduring it.
Testing your hardiness is a fun part of camping, but being wet, cold and windblown is not. Planning ahead by getting a good weather report for your intended location is a good idea, but weather in wilderness areas can change rapidly. The change tends to be more extreme than in urban areas, as well. The temperature difference between daytime and nighttime is often greater in mountainous areas, where many campsites are located.
Bring along a clock of the type that has indoor/outdoor temperatures for in the tent and outside. Or, better still, get one of the more extensive weather stations. They report rainfall, air pressure (a good weather indicator), temperature, humidity and other factors that can affect your plans on the site. They’re portable, powered by AA batteries and accurate.
Summer camping is more common, but weather is still a factor. Daytime highs in many camping areas can reach the 90s or higher in July and August, then drop down to the 50s at night.
That daytime high is a concern for hikers, a common activity during camping. It creates a need for additional water and minerals (bring along a low-sugar sports drink). Be prepared to rest at least five minutes every hour. Dress in layers so you can take clothing off during the heat, but still be comfortable as the day cools off.
Don’t go shirtless except in open areas, and sometimes not even then. Toxic plants, scrapes from bushes, trees and rocks can turn septic more readily outdoors. Excessive UV exposure is a greater problem in high altitude areas. Use sunscreen on exposed areas of skin and keep those areas to a minimum.
Winter camping is less common but a great delight for those who enjoy snow and colder temperatures. The chances for seeing wildlife can be greater since deer, moose and other creatures have to forage at lower altitudes to get adequate food. Bear sightings are less common, which is another advantage. It may sound cool to see a bear, and it can be. But they can be dangerous and grizzlies see people as food, not playmates.
Thermal socks and underwear, the type that wicks away sweat and still allows some air to pass slowly through the material, is a good item to take along. You’ll be more comfortable and temperature control is important during colder weather. Frostbite is a real possibility and sometimes the damage it does to nerves and tissue is permanent.
Avoid walking on frozen lakes, ponds and streams during winter camping trips. The ice is often only a couple of inches thick (if that), and the crystalline structure of natural ice is riddled with asymmetries. That leads to cracking at random moments. Ice that was sturdy ten minutes earlier can fail to support you without warning. There’s nothing quite so unpleasant, and potentially dangerous, as icy water against your skin.
Plan ahead for the season and the climate for your intended location and you’ll find your trip that much more enjoyable.