As I am heading out to the Hoh, I realize I forgot my boots and a pen. I was in a hurry to leave, and it is just now 4:30 in the morning. No matter. Things can be done without, and adjustments can be made. The important thing is that I am on my way.
Growing up in western Pennsylvania I would often hear the joke that on any given day in spring or fall you can experience all four seasons in 24 hours. I’m sure the same joke is told in other parts of the country, but I didn’t grow up there. That experience, however pleasurable or un-, is the reason many of us suit up and head out on the trail to wherever it takes us and to wherever we are going.
Some of us are masochists and run ultras through the desert or head to high camp when the storms roll in because that shit is epic and you become part of a small percentage of people who have experienced it. Some of us love low elevation rolling trails that provide endless magic spaces and dappled forest floors for reflection over a picnic of organic snacks because that experience is too perfect to miss. Some of us are tourists and stop only when trail head is a parking lot with a restroom and a smiling ranger who has a wonderful .6-mile hike for you in a trifold he keeps in his pocket because that experience is critical for you to commune with who you were ten thousand years ago.
But we all go.
The shoulder season provides a unique opportunity to experience the trail and the land as unabridged as it was made. I have been caught in a snow squall at 5,500 ft. and forced to descend through the snow, sleet, and rain to camp when the forecast has called for only 10% chance of precipitation. I have hiked tired and chilly valleys only to be baked by the radiant heat of granite walls after the sun has burned off the atmosphere.
The weather dictates everything from our sleep cycle to when animals mate. Where we live. How we live. Everything.
if you want to really immerse yourself in it—go in spring when you can see the mountains form as the melt water and rain moves swaths of earth downhill exposing huge granite faces that our great, great grandchildren will come to know
And if you want to really immerse yourself in it—go in spring when you can see the mountains form as the melt water and rain moves swaths of earth downhill exposing huge granite faces that our great, great grandchildren will come to know; when the plants realize themselves in their fullest color and call out to the bees with breath still sweet of pollen; go in spring when everything is new and changing be a part of it because it will never be the same as it is now.
There is no bad time to go outside, but I think the best time is spring.