When the summer heat sets in, there are two popular ways to find relief in the Pacific Northwest: Get thee to water, or head to the mountains. Whether you’re a hard-core climber or a casual hiker, the mountains offer plenty of recreational opportunities that allow you to take advantage of the cooler air available at higher elevations. Here’s a look at some of the top Northwest mountaintop activities to help you beat the heat:
1. Hiking and rock climbing.
Hiking is one of the simplest ways to enjoy the mountains; just fill up your day pack and hit the road. The effort you put into reaching the top will be rewarded with amazing vistas along the way. Or if you’d rather climb your way up, some resorts offer rock climbing tours for both experienced and beginning rock climbers. Just remember than whenever you embark upon any hiking or rock climbing adventure, you should bring along all of the usual emergency gear – including a reliable source of light, such as an LED flashlight or headlamp – in case you lose your way or get stranded after dark.
2. Mountain biking.
For many cyclists, flying over rugged terrain and navigating tricky trails is the ultimate way to enjoy the mountains. Just don’t get so amped up you forget to pack the basics: lots of water, energy foods, a repair kit and essential emergency gear. Even if you don’t plan on biking after nightfall, bring along at least one extra LED flashlight or headlamp in addition to your regular bike lights, just in case. Multi-tools are a handy way to get your essential bike repair tools into one compact, easy-to-pack device.
For a more leisurely trip into the mountains, consider picnicking at an overlook or other location you can reach by vehicle, or use a ski lift to reach your destination. For example, you can have a picnic at 7,000 feet by taking the Palmer ski lift at Timberline lodge on Mt. Hood. Even on a simple picnic, you never know what might happen in the mountains, so pack an LED flashlight and some cold-weather gear just in case.
4. Skiing and snowboarding.
Thanks to an overabundance of spring rain, many mountain resorts are still open for skiing and snowboarding this summer. Keep in mind that however populated a ski resort may be, there’s always a chance you might become separated from your group or get lost or stranded. A surprising number of skiers owe their lives to the fact that they had the foresight to keep an LED headlamp or flashlight on them, which can make it much easier for rescuers to spot you on the slopes.
5. Resort-specific activities.
If skiing isn’t your thing, many Northwest mountain resorts also offer a variety of activities, from golfing to zip lining. If you plan on heading up to the resort for any of these activities, find out in advance what gear is provided, what gear must be rented, and what you’ll need to bring.
[ photo by: mariachily ]