If you’re headed up to the mountains for some hiking during the spring or summer, you still have to think of it as a winter vacation. That’s because while the days can be warm, it can still drop below freezing at higher elevations, which means you could even get some snow. At the very least, that single sweatshirt you brought “just in case” isn’t going to do the trick.
Don’t just fill your suitcase with shorts and t-shirts; plan accordingly. Those mountaintops are still white in June for a reason. Here are a few things to remember when planning for your mountain summer vacation.
1. Layer Up
You’ll be much warmer if you wear three or four thin layers, instead of one big bulky one. There were many Indiana winter days I would go without a heavy coat just by wearing three layers under a warm sweater or fleece pullover.
Skipping the winter parka is a great way to save space in your suitcase. It’s easier and lighter to pack thin layers — t-shirts, long-sleeve t-shirts, mock turtlenecks — and you can just take one or two sweaters for warmth. Plus, you only need to change your innermost layer(s) every day. The outer layers can be worn a few times before you toss them in the laundry.
Growing up in Indiana, a mountain was anything taller than your house, and you had to drive hundreds of miles for a mountain vacation. In fact, I’d wager that’s true for anyone living in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains states. We just don’t have mountains. You have to head south and west, past where the glaciers stopped during the Ice Age to get into the real mountains and a real mountain vacation.
Luckily, I’ve had a chance to travel to a few mountains in my life, including the Rockies and the Appalachians. While those are indeed majestic mountains, I never like doing things everyone else does. So here are a few suggestions for mountain vacation getaways that won’t get as crowded — or expensive! — as the “big mountains” everyone thinks of when they want a mountain retreat.
Mount Hood, Cascades, Oregon:
Located about 50 miles east-southeast of Portland, this is the state’s highest point at 11,249 feet. And on a clear day, you can just barely see Mt. Hood from Portland. The people of Portland have sort of claimed it as “their mountain,” at least unofficially, and it’s a great place to spend the day hiking or skiing, depending on the time of year.