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  • Writer's pictureElderberry 1

All Season Adventure

My controversial opinion is that Spring is overrated.

But the flowers! And everything waking up! Renewal! Leaving behind the late winter doldrums!

I know, I know. I do love the flowers, and the animals coming back out, all the plants coming back to life. It's hummingbird migration season where we live and it's wonderful to watch them flitting around, or even just hearing their mechanical whir when you're outside.

But it's also the sloppy season of deception. The warmer weather makes me think we're ready to kick off backpacking season. But every time I try to start things off in Spring there are regrets.... often muddy, wet, bug-filled, deep-slushy-snow-covering-the-trail, testing whether my boots are really waterproof, regrets.

We lived in the Northeast for many years and Spring there is mud season. Our backpacking season was roughly Earth Day to Halloween, but the first trips of the season where mud-fests and last trips of the season were uncomfortably brisk with October nights routinely got down to the teens. I don't think we ever had a dry backpacking trip before June, and wet meant everything from torrential downpours to hail to snow to sleet and everything in between. Wet ground easily erodes and a lot of the places we'd normally go discouraged visitors until things began to firm up.

We're in drier climes now, but also higher elevation, and every year I am deceived by the warm weather and constant sun and find ourselves post-holing through snow above our knees at higher elevations or contending with thigh-high stream crossings lower down. After a few years of failed attempts in March and April I've committed to waiting until May or heading much further south to start things off.

I've chatted with folks who only get outside in the summer, which is all good. Maybe they've tried hitting the trail in other seasons and they just don't enjoy it. There is so much to see in every season and part of figuring out what works best for you is trying things on. Not everything will be for everybody: we've tried winter backpacking. We camp year round, but winter backpacking was not for us. Spring backpacking may not be my favorite, but even when I've been sopping wet and sliding in the mud, I've never thought I shouldn't have gone out. Every season has its joys and frustrations-- my aggravations with Spring are more about my habit of imagining that this will be the year that I'll find a magically mud- and snow-free backpacking trail in April. The key to enjoying every season is to plan appropriately, set realistic expectations, and know what you like, don't like, and are okay to contend with.

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