By: Eli Shostak
Shorter days and cooler nights signal we’re transitioning from summer to autumn, your new adventure buddy. For some of us and depending on where we live, this might be a welcome change. But for many of us, the departure of warm weather comes with some sadness. And not for no reason; we wait all year for those golden days, visions of vacation, and high vibes. Then, before we know it, summertime has come and gone, my oh my.
Summer is undoubtedly sexy; all that exposed flesh, those long fun in the sun days, and lots of gentle, sultry nights. But while summer is the hot, exciting, ready-to-party season, autumn is the subtle, alluring, multidimensional sibling. Autumn brings many of the same things we love about summer but lures us in and captivates more curious explorers with its complex and lovely conditions.
To be clear, no shade is being thrown at summer. June, July, and August are absolutely the best time for many of the endeavors we love. But as we head into autumn, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the ways summer’s sibling season can be one of the best times for certain hues of outdoor adventures.
Temperatures: Summer temps are hot and getting hotter. Who doesn’t adore the simplicity of sundresses, board shorts, sandals, and shades? Really though, at some point during our warm weather flings, don’t we all wish the Death Star would give us a break? We feel cooked and ready for a little less time in the oven. Autumn arrives with abundant gorgeous days, many just as warm and clothing-free as summer, but autumn is no one trick pony; it takes the edge off with cool mornings and evenings. Barefoot by a campfire, pulling a beanie over our ears, and just simply not sweating all day are baked into autumn’s approach to wild adventures.
Bugs: Insects serve a crucial role in any ecosystem and human blood supports them in their quest. But let’s face it, no matter how much of an environmentalist any of us thinks we are, feeding the biting, stinging, buzzing summertime locals is not exactly the type of altruism for which we strive. From no-see-ums to horse flies, bugs appreciate us showing up to their summer picnics. But you know who rolls solo without an entourage of flying pests? Autumn. The deeper we head into the season; the more nature’s little nasties will bug off.
Crowds: As purveyors of excellent outdoor adventures, we’re totally in favor of people getting outside for extended periods, which is often just plain easier to accomplish in summer. It brings the festivals, holidays, and vacations so many of us gear up all year to send. Summer’s crowds are the gregarious, and energetic fun seekers we love! As great as this is, sometimes the absence of people is more impressive than sharing the view (like, it’s amazing to look around and notice you have a place to yourself). And while autumn’s people are just as passionate as summer’s frolickers, they express themselves subtly with a more tranquil and curious vibe. Just as stoked to get wild, autumn’s quieter gatherings might require you to introduce yourself.
Every season in the West brings something wonderful, it’s up to each of us to keep exploring and learn the magical flavors of each month. Summer is spectacular, no question, but if you haven’t spent any time hanging out with autumn, this is the year to introduce yourself and make some plans. As a long-time denizen of these wild and arid places, I’ll let you in on a secret many of us whisper about; autumn is the best season! Shhh….
Eli Shostak is a Senior Lecturer of Adventure Education at Fort Lewis College. A former river guide, NOLS Course Leader, and sea kayaking instructor, he is a firm believer in the power of shared experiences in wild places. Eli is dedicated to using his expertise in mindfulness, leadership, and expedition planning to facilitate journeys for finding the personal and interpersonal benefits of exploring diverse landscapes. His favorite game to play on trips is called “Knuck Tats,” something you’ll have to ask him about.