- John Soltys
In our non-stop, oversubscribed world it's hard to find time to do the things we really want to do. Like hiking. The days when I could spend an entire Saturday, let alone an entire weekend, on the trail are long gone. Now I'm lucky if I can get half a day outside each weekend. To make the most of limited time I hike in the early mornings.
How early? Early enough that I'm often hiking by myself because others are smarter than to get up that early. Contrary to conventional wisdom, here's why you should set your alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning.
1.) Maximize your trail time. Say you have to be home by noon. If you don't get to the trailhead until 9am you've got just three short hours and that's too little to really get going. Start hiking at 6am, though, and you've got six hours. You can do something great with six hours.
2.) Have the trail to yourself. Hiking is clearly the new big thing. More and more people are getting outside, and that's a good thing. The more people that love the outdoors the more people will protect the outdoors. That doesn't mean I want to conga up a mountain with everybody else, though. Start early and you'll see just a fraction of the people you will later in the day.
3.) Beat the heat! I'm not a huge fan of high temperatures. I'd much rather layer up with Woolx than be sweating with nothing on. Even the warmest days start cooler. And if you start cold you won't sweat through all your clothes when you warm up.
4.) Watch the light defeat the darkness. You might not be strong with the Force, but you can be present for the daily battle between night and day. Spoiler: The light side always wins.
5.) Be safer. If something happens and you can't get back to the trailhead it's far more likely you can get help before dark if you started early. Don't be fooled into thinking you'll never need help to get home. If you haven't yet had an injury in the wilderness it's just because you haven't been out there enough.
6.) Be epic (or at least appear so). When you're coming down a mountain at the time others are going up you know they're looking at you in awe. For people that don't hike in the dark or early mornings it's something they think is solely reserved for hardcore hikers. (You're not required to disabuse them of that belief.)
Now that you know why you should hike in the early mornings it just remains to set your alarm and get up. One last tip: Put your gear together the night before and make plans to go with a friend the first few times. It's a lot harder to hit the snooze button when someone is waiting for you at the trailhead.