5 Tips for Enjoying the Shoulder Season

By Angela Crampton

There’s a joke in Seattle that it only rains once a year from October until June. Needless to say, it’s hard to stay motivated to get outside when the trails are muddy and the weather is crummy. I’m here to share some tips on how to stay positive and get outside.

  1. Embrace the weather. I’m not a huge fan of hiking or doing activity when you have to wear waterproof layers because I end up hiking with a sweat layer inside my rain jacket. However, take it slow or find a flatter hike just to get outside. Not only are layers important but don’t forget to wear your weather-protected Gore-Tex® hiking shoes. Don’t have Gore-Tex®, then buy a weather protectant spray at your outdoor retailer and treat your shoes.

You might find unexpected snowfall on some of the trails. Pack the gaiters, rain layers, traction devices, and trekking poles just in case – you can always leave them in the car. Understand how to layer based on your activity and play around with layers to make you comfortable. 

  1. Find weather openings. I use detailed reports to the hour to see when the least amount of rainfall will be during the day I plan to go outside. Examine and watch the weather at the beginning of the week and block off your calendar for the nicest day. Watch the weather every night to see if it’s changing and update plans accordingly. 

Find microclimates, or locations with different atmospheric conditions than other neighboring surrounding areas, to avoid the rain. Where I live, if you go over the mountain crest, you can usually find dryer weather with more desert-like climates. Similar as well as if you stay to the foothills rather than the larger mountains that create their own weather systems. 

Hiking above the cloads

  1. Be flexible. I’ve got a fairly flexible job, so I can take a day off during the week if I have no other commitments. I tend to take a day off every other week but will make up the work by working longer hours or catching up on the weekend when it may be the only choice for others.

Mountain Climber

  1. Encourage a friend to join. You’re way more likely to bail on a plan when the weather forecast starts to turn from the glimpse of overcast to 50 percent chance of rain. Find a friend that will not be a fair weather friend. You both will be happy that you went and caught up on the trail. Keep in touch with friends that also have flexible schedules and ping each other if you have a free day and the sun is supposed to shine – it does happen on occasion. 
  2. Bring a change of clothes. What’s more uncomfortable than being soaked to the bone during an activity? Sitting in wet clothes on your drive home. I pack a bag with fuzzy fleece and cotton layers and have no shame in changing everything in the car, including the underwear. I also like to bring a small towel as well to dry off a little before changing clothes. You’ll be happy to not only be dry but to warm up faster than just blasting the heat on your ride home.