There’s no doubt – a fall hike is a feast for the eyes and a comfort for the soul. As temperatures are constantly going down, day by day, and we feel that winter is near, we know that many of our hiking plans will have to wait for warmer days.

So we try to extend our hiking season and to breathe the mountain air one more time before the snow covers mountains. We decide to take a fall hike, even if there’s a great possibility that bad weather will ruin your hike. But, that’s why fall hikes are exceptional. These hikes require extra safety measures, extra supplies, good shape and, above all, the invincible desire to climb spectacular summits.

We could say that fall hikes are ‘just in case’ hikes because we don’t leave anything to chance. We’re well-prepared so we hike with the smile even on a cold, misty and rainy day.

To hike carelessly when cold days arrive, consider these things first. Just in case!

wehike glacier de moiry val harens
WeHikers at the Glacier de Moiry hike. Credit: Dipankar Pathak

Days Are Shorter

Although we always prefer starting a hike early in the morning due to many reasons, no matter the season, a fall hike should start as early as possible. Why? It’s common sense – days are shorter and, sadly, the amount of daylight hours is decreasing day by day.

A flashlight and extra batteries are essential hiking items on fall and winter hikes.  You might not need it but bring it just in case. Things don’t always go as planned, so be prepared for unexpected situations that can prolong your walk. And you probably don’t want to be caught by dark.

The Weather Is Changeable

Even if a weather forecast says SUNNY, don’t take it for granted. You have probably witnessed many times how a cloudless, blue sky out there in the hills suddenly turns gray and sends a heavy rain. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, even during the summer, and when you take a fall hike you should always count on sudden weather changes.

europaweg matterhorn wehike
Photo captured by Allison Goldstein at the Europaweg and Matterhorn WeHike

Of course, sometimes luck is on our side and we can enjoy colorful mountain landscapes under the bright sun. But, just in case, appropriate rain gear is always in our backpack. With the good waterproof jacket and a proper rain footwear, we can walk with a smile while annoying rain is following us.

Follow River Crossing Safety Tips

When comes to crossing fast-flow rivers, I can’t help myself but think of the famous scene from Into the Wild. Alexander Supertramp finally decided to go back home, but he encounters a surging water instead of a quiet river that he had crossed a few months ago. He is unable to cross the violent stream so he is forced to stay on the other side of the river.

You’re probably not going to experience such a scenario, but this is a good illustration how rivers and streams change during the year. A small torrent can become quite rage when rains start to fall or when the snow starts melting.

It’s always good to know some safety tips and useful techniques for fording rivers and streams that intersect your hiking trail.

Europaweg Matterhorn Wehike
Photographed by Jean-Christophe Garnier at the Europaweg and Matterhorn WeHike

You Will Need More Food

Planning your food supplies for hiking in cold weather is quite different than from warm, summer weather. You will need more food than usual because you will burn more calories in order to keep the internal heat of the body. Believe it or not, it’s been said that on a cold day hike you will burn at least 2000 calories more than usual.

So, bring some extra food, just in case. A little oversupply never hurt anyone. Make sure you bring food rich in carbs because carbs will give you energy and will keep your body warm. Even if it might seem that spicy food makes your body warm, spicy food and all food that makes you feel warm even if you’re not should be avoided.

Share your thoughts on how you get prepared for fall hikes!


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