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Backpacker Magazine – October 2011

Fall Hiking: In Camp

Learn how to pick the perfect campground and keep your food, and yourself, toasty in dipping temps.

by: Jason Stevenson

PAGE 1 2
Illustration by Supercorn
Illustration by Supercorn

Pick the Perfect Campsite
 
(A) Pitch your tent above low-lying areas like meadows, ravines, and riverbanks where cold, damp air settles. Temps can be as much as 25°F warmer just 250 feet above a nighttime inversion layer. Expect all-around colder temps when skies are clear; cloudless nights allow the day’s ground-level heat to escape.
(B) Avoid strong winds. Signs of frequent, hard blows include trees with foliage concentrated on one side, bent or broken branches, and downed trunks facing one direction. Avoid summits and ridgelines where winds change and swirl, and narrow spots, like valley entrances and passes, where they accelerate rapidly.
(C) Take advantage of natural windbreaks by pitching your tent behind stands of trees, rock walls, and boulders, and on leeward slopes.
(D) Pick a site with an eastern exposure to catch the early-morning sunlight, and/or a southern exposure so that the sun hits your tent for more of the day.


PAGE 1 2

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READERS COMMENTS

meanolddog
Oct 02, 2012

Some really good advice here for a change! But I thought we were talking about "Fall" Hiking because the second page is obviously for winter hiking though in the Fall in some places the temperatures can dip pretty low but mostly Fall temperature range only down to the mean 50's until Thanksgiving and not to freezing. One of the most important issues I find with fall camping is overheating during the warmth of the day and then getting cold at night which can bring on hypothermia, even at a range between 60 - 50 degrees and that is from experience. One of the most important items I found aside from the Campsite selection is the Hat..A baseball hat or Floppy brim hat works great during the day but as soon as you select your campsite prepare right then for the oncoming cool evening. #1. Immediately set up your Tent and make up your bed. #2 while that is being done heat up something warm to drink. #3.Switch to a Knit Hat or artifical Fiber Hat! #4. I next take a quick sponge bath for I find I am colder if I have the days yuck layer still on my body. #5. lay out your clothing layers for the oncoming evening chill. Thankfully I live in an area where I can have a Campfire so my next step is to drink that warm brew or broth or soup that had been heating on my Snowpeak stove, then gather the firewood for the fire. I always make a "Hat full of fire". Meaning no larger than the inside of my Baseball camp. And old timers trick, a big fire you have to sit farther away from and constantly feed the flames whereas a small fire needs less fuel, you can get closer to it and you can cook on it at the same time. I like to bring pre-sliced pre-marinated and frozen at home Steak which I roast over the fire one strip at a time along. Another little trick if I am with my group of friends is to set up Sportsmens Blankets which we all carry in the cool and cold months, Not the flimys aluminized ones but the ones with the grommets in the corners which cost about $15.00, by jamming our hiking poles into the ground and attaching the Blankets by the grommets around us and the fire area to keep the heat in and the wind out. You can do it with just two by placing them in the shape of a "V" to block the wind as well and when solo I also set it up behind me against the wind..Occasionally if there are enough of us to justify carrying it, or I know it is going to be really cold, I might also carry my Small Coleman tent heater which uses the small Coleman fuel canister, the same canister that is used for their lightweight stove. That little heater has been a life saver on a number of hiking, fishing and hunting trips over the years..Funny, I do not recall ever seeing a Coleman review in Backpacker, Colemen is probably too big to need Backpacker to push their stuff anyway. I know some of my gal pals have appreciated that little heater on occasion. Well happy hiking and keep that hat on.

Honora
Dec 02, 2011

We camped on a flat area on a ridge-line where a few meters higher than us was a 6 inch cornice. This indicates the lee wind was in an area where the air was gently recirculating above a still zone. In the morning, we were fine in our little Montbell tent but everywhere else on the ridge was blowing a gale and we eventually abandoned our climb and bailed down a scree to the valley as conditions were too unpleasant.

Linda Kenyon
Oct 24, 2011

Always keep a hat on!

sylvia mccullough
Oct 22, 2011

i used one of the tips already about the insulated items to keep foods warm that is a great idea as well as keeping the area neat after you leave.thanks!

Anonymous
Oct 21, 2011

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