The nights are getting cooler. The days are getting shorter. The leaves are changing colour. This can only mean one thing – WINTER IS ON ITS WAY! But first we get to enjoy the wonder of Ontario’s autumn. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be outside as much as possible during the fall.
If you are planning to go camping or on a hiking or canoe trip, you will have to consider the following four things: the animals, the weather, your clothing and the length of days.
We are not the only ones that come out to play during the autumn – animals are getting ready to hibernate, bears are getting ready to go into torpor and, because of this, they are more actively searching for food. This means that they are more likely to try to get at your food. So make sure that you don’t have anything with an odour in your tent that will attract animals and that you know how to properly store your food. Nothing can ruin a trip more than losing all of your food to Yogi.
In the fall, the weather forecast is so unpredictable that it can even have the weatherman scratching his head. For example, the daytime high can be summerlike, but at night the temperature may drop down to around the freezing mark. So be sure to check the forecast just before you leave for your trip to have the latest weather information. However, when you are packing, make sure to pack both warmer and cooler clothing because you just never know what the weather will bring.
This is the most crucial aspect of a fall trip. Since you will be packing clothing for warmer and cooler temperatures, the best idea is to layer your clothing. I would recommend wearing 3 or 4 layers of thinner materials. This way if get warm during the day, you can remove layers.
The material of your clothes is also important. It is a good idea to stay away from cotton materials because it will just soak up the sweat and moisture, which in turn will make you cold. This includes socks and underwear. You do not want to portage wearing cotton socks or underwear because you will sweat and as soon as you get into the canoe and start crossing a lake, you will freeze when the bitter cold wind hits you. Polyesters and synthetic materials work better because they wick the moisture away from your skin and this will help keep you warmer. Wool is kind of a tricky material because it will soak up some of the moisture and get very heavy but it can still keep you warm. That said, Merino wool (brands such as Icebreaker and SmartWool) is a great base layer material. It is thin, light and not scratchy on your skin.
Length of days
One of my favourite parts of fall canoe trips is huddling around a campfire with my trip mates chatting, enjoying the brisk fall night and drinking… hot chocolate. However, to get to this point, we have to reach our destination, set up camp, search for firewood and cook supper, and I really dislike doing these things when it’s dark and cold. So, if you’re like me, then you need to remember that the days are considerably shorter than they were in July or August. So make sure that you take this into consideration when you’re planning your trip. You need to make your daily treks shorter and stay on schedule. There is nothing worse than trying to find a campsite in the dark.
Fall trips can be the extremely fun and memorable, especially if you time your trip right. Seeing the colours of Ontario’s autumn can be truly spectacular. You just have to remember to take the appropriate measures and precautions. Have a great trip.