Spring in the Northeast can be a tough time to get outdoors. Ski season is wrapping up. Trails are still covered in snow and ice, or entering the depths of mud season. Conditions can range from unideal to outright dangerous. And hiking on muddy trails also causes erosion, damaging the surrounding environment.
“Although the weather is getting warmer, it’s still important to be mindful that we are truly in between seasons,” says AMC Senior Outdoor Guide Sarah Geiwitz, who leads trips in the White Mountains.
Instead of just waiting for summer, these months are the perfect time to prepare for adventures ahead. Whether you’re excited to tackle your first backpacking trip or have a paddling route you’ve been dreaming of all winter, advance planning and conditioning will help you achieve those goals later.
Here’s how you can make the most of the weeks ahead.
Get In Shape
Returning to your favorite warm-weather outdoor activity will be easier if you use the offseason to build up your fitness. That can be anything from a walk around the neighborhood to specialized workout routines that are tailored to your activity.
While some people may feel they benefit from the community and guidance of a gym or workout class, there’s no need to break the bank. Here are some of our favorite home workouts for the offseason:
- Hiking: AMC New Hampshire trip leader and personal trainer Kathy Ellis, M.S., designed a special at-home conditioning circuit for strength and flexibility in hikers.
- Paddling: Efficient paddling uses highly specific muscles groups and motions. This workout will help strengthen your core, increase upper body endurance, and build lower body stability.
- Climbing: A climbing-specific home routine should build strength and focus on balance, grip, and forearm strength. This is how climber Leah Cotton gets crag ready.
Always consult your primary care provider before starting or increasing the intensity of exercise.
Brush Up on Your Outdoor Skills
Spring is the ideal time to get familiar with the skills you’ll need for the months ahead, whether you want to try something brand new or are looking to take an activity you already love to the next level. From hanging a bear bag to practicing your J-stroke, ensuring you’re comfortable with the ins and outs of an activity will make your excursion smoother and safer. If you’re not sure where to get started, try:
- Hitting the Books: Before you can start practicing a skill, you’ll need to understand the fundamentals. AMC’s Outdoor Skills books are a great resource to get you there. Learn how to identify wildlife on the trail, or even cook your own meals in the backcountry. There’s a book to get you started!
- Working With a Guide: A little bit of help can go a long way. AMC chapters across the region offer local volunteer-led trips and workshops that will get you ready for summer, from paddling instruction at indoor pools to mountain skills courses. Or take your trip with AMC’s professional Outdoor Guides in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Guided Adventures are available year-round, and include a range of all-inclusive programs covering outdoors skills. You can also design your own custom adventure with help from our staff – contact a guide to get started.
Plan A Trip
There’s nothing like a trip on the calendar to get you through the springtime doldrums. Setting a date also gives you time to figure out logistics. As you get started, be sure to consider:
- Do I have the gear I need? You should always carry the 10 Essentials whenever you enter the backcountry. Weather can change quickly at any time of year so it’s important to come prepared for anything, including an unplanned overnight. The offseason is a great time to fill gaps in your gear list. And remember, you don’t need the most expensive gear to stay safe! The best gear is often the stuff you already have. Here’s our packing list for three-season hiking!
- Where am I going? Are you adventuring close to home or planning a major excursion? You may want to explore a new place or revisit a beloved favorite. A hiking or paddling guidebook is a great way to get familiar with your options and find a destination that offers the challenge and scenery you’re looking for. Staying at an AMC destination puts you near incredible outdoor recreation opportunities in some of our region’s most beautiful places. Our staff can even help you plan your trip and in some locations, like the AMC Highland Center, lend you gear.
If you’re looking beyond the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, AMC’s volunteer-run Adventure Travel program offers excursions across the globe.
There’s a lot to love about spring in the AMC region. Sunny days have returned, and flowers are starting to bloom. Snow is thawing on many low-elevation trails. But whether it’s mud season or frigid waters, the trip you’ve been dreaming of may still be out of reach. Use this time to build fitness, practice your outdoor skills, and iron out the details. You’ll thank yourself later, when you’re taking in the view somewhere incredible.