How autumn presents new hazards for outdoor adventurers

Fall can present new hazards to anyone spending time outdoors.

Fall is one of the most rewarding times of the year to get out and explore the great outdoors. Whether biking, hiking or just taking a casual stroll, autumn comes with wonderful foliage, brisk, comfortable breezes and intoxicating smells.

At the same time, however, the conditions that are emblematic of fall can also create new hazards for anyone headed out on a trek. Ensure you've prepared by packing the right gear. And other proactive and mindful steps go a long way as well. Here are some of the most common but perhaps overlooked risks facing outdoor adventurers in the fall.

Changing weather
As the Clymb pointed out, one of the most challenging aspects of planning a biking or hiking trip in the autumn can be managing tricky weather forecasts. Cool mornings give way to balmy afternoons, which makes it difficult to pack light and still be fully prepared for the day ahead. As opposed to carrying around extra clothes in your bag, opting for versatile gear such as the Marmot Minimalist Gore-Tex Jacket can offset this issue and ensure you are ready. In November and early December, however, packing a set of warm clothes could be a critical decision should you become lost or stuck somewhere overnight. 

Temperatures can be either sweltering or freezing in autumn.
Temperatures can be either sweltering or freezing in autumn.

Unfortunately, mother nature has more up her sleeve than unpredictable temperatures, and autumn can see thunderstorms and snow squalls alike. Again, keeping an eye on the weather forecast goes a long way, but the unpredictable conditions in the fall make planning trips far in advance a bit trickier. Your best bet is to try and be flexible about when and where you are planning an adventure. 

Less daylight
As trivial as it may seem, shorter days may actually present a serious issue to outdoor exploration. This is especially true when traveling somewhere new or if you don't have a good grasp on how long a bike trek or hiking route is. Along with monitoring the daily forecast, be sure to know when the sun sets and avoid pushing the envelope and traveling at dusk. When adventuring in the mountains, the sun may disappear even sooner, and getting caught in the woods while its dark can present real challenges.

Not only does low light make it difficult to safely navigate your way out of the wilderness, but colder, windy conditions can set in, adding a new layer of difficulty to your journey. For that reason, your best bet is to plan ahead and get out on the trail early in the day. Even if you're camping and spending the night in the outdoors, try to avoid hiking or biking in the dark, even if you have good lighting equipment with you.

Slick conditions
Even if the forecast calls for sunny skies, it's critical to be mindful of slick conditions when heading out on a trek. Water from an early morning shower may not evaporate as quickly as it would in the summer, and a muddy trail can quickly lead to a twisted ankle or bad wipe out. Similarly, dew or frost in the first half of the day can make for slippery travel, and a fresh matt of fallen leaves only exacerbates this issue. 

Keep an eye out for wet conditions when hitting the trail.
Keep an eye out for wet conditions when hitting the trail.

Some items, such as Schwalbe Marathon Supreme HS 382 SpeedGuard bike tires can go a long way toward off-setting the issues related to slick conditions. Be sure to pack gear that can account for a wetter situation. Neglecting to do so could create an unsafe scenario, resulting in a face full of mud or worse. 

Opportunistic bugs
Summer is marred by pesky, biting insects, but autumn can still bring about problems related to unwanted bugs. Fall is the time when some critters are anxiously looking for an opportunity to settle down for the winter, and can be attracted to a warm body or pack. Fleas in particular may target your dog, especially if he has been running through leaves or other brush. Ticks, meanwhile, can be much more active in the fall than some folks may expect, and though the risk may not be higher than during other times of the year, some outdoor adventurers may neglect to conduct a thorough tick check in the autumn. Aside from wearing long-sleeved clothing and bug spray, it's smart to simply be mindful of the possibility of an unwanted encounter with insects and to act accordingly.

About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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