Sunday, September 2, 2018

How to Beat the Heat AND Get Your Nature Fix Over Summer

There is nothing I love more than being outdoors. I love trails and trees and fields and open skies and well, you get the point. It's our family thing. We hike.


Summer hiking is just not our thing. For many reasons. First, many (not all) trails become really overgrown in the summer. Also, because the trees have their full foliage, many of the beautiful views we love are blocked. Not that that's a reason to not hike. But you know what is a reason? Summer bugs. And also the heat. What I don't like is walking in the heat of the sun, through knee high weeds, surrounded by bugs. 


I couldn't possibly go all summer without a nature fix. I crave the outdoors, so fortunately we have figured out some outdoor things to do in the heat of the summer.

1.) Go where the water is.

Hello there creeks, ponds, rivers, and backyard sprinkler. We love going to the creek and have spent a few afternoons there swimming, skipping rocks, and looking for wildlife. The best tip I can offer about going to the creek is to bring water shoes or shoes that you can wear in the creek. It just makes it easier to get around. We usually don't stay in one spot - we will walk up and down the creek bed looking for places to explore.

2.) Sunsrise, Sunset

Obviously it's going to be cooler if you're up early or out later when the sun isn't right overhead. One of our family's favorite things to do in the summer is to go to the river and watch the sunset. It's just the perfect way to end a summer evening. After we hang out and watch the sun set, we head home with the windows down, playing our favorite music, and enjoying a nice, cool, country drive home in the moonlight.


3.) Night Sky

I'm a sucker for all celestial things. Two of my favorite apps on my phone are Daff Moon, which is simply a moon phase tracker, and Sky Map, which acts as a hand held planetarium. One of our favorite things to do in the summer (or anytime, really) is to wait until the boys are in their pajamas all ready for bed, and then surprise them with a night excursion to the country to look at the stars, the moon, the sky. We have a couple of favorite spots, away from any light pollution, where we can just park the car and sky gaze. Recently, there was a meteor shower on a night when the skies were supposed to be really clear. We waited until dark, surprised the boys with a nighttime adventure, and headed to the country. We laid a mattress and blankets on top of the van, laid back, and saw one shooting star after another. It was one of the best nights of the whole summer.

4.) Find Nature Indoors!

We are fortunate to be so close to an amazing nature center.  We visit there often. We've gone early in the morning to walk the trails before the sun is blazing, and we've gone in the heat of the day to do some indoor bird watching and learn about conservation in Missouri all in the comfort of air conditioning.

On one of our visits, it must have been just before feeding time, because the snakes were all incredibly active. I've never seen them so restless! Eeeek.

5.) Watch for perfect hiking weather and be ready to roll. 

Even the hottest summer months usually offer at least a little reprieve from the heat. We are constantly watching the weather for that break from hot weather so we can hit the trails at just the right time. When we do hike in the summer, we look for wide trails that we know are well maintained through summer months. Either that, or we look for trails that go straight to the creek.

We have a hiking backpack ready to go at all times. If the weather dips unexpectedly, we are ready to grab our gear and go. Must haves for summer hikes include bug spray and sunscreen. And of course, lots and lots of water.

The point is, there is no excuse to go all summer without appreciating what nature has to offer, even when it's hot, humid, and miserable. Go in the morning, go at night, go indoors, go outdoors - just go.

Here's to looking forward to cooler weather and more comfortable hikes!