Daylight savings time is over so outdoor enthusiasts have to end their excursions earlier.
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Daylight starts to wane around 4:30 p.m. so it’s best to return to the trail heads or lodges before headlamps or flashlights are needed. On the other hand, it’s daylight an hour earlier.
It starts getting light around 7 a.m. but it’s chilly so it’s either bundle up or wait a bit. No matter what the destination is or the start and end times, autumn is an absolutely fantastic time to hike, ride or just wander aimlessly.
Make sure there are fresh batteries in all your flashlights and headlamps. You will likely need them until next spring and dead batteries don’t light anything.
Plan for current conditions. Be realistic about the time your group needs to complete a trek whether you are cycling, walking, running or hiking.
Travel at the pace of the slowest member of the group. That’s especially important in the woods. It is a bad idea to leave anyone behind.
Check your stash of trail goodies and refresh your snacks. Stale munchies won’t hurt you but fresh ones make the day better. You certainly don’t want stale chocolate while on the trail.
Where can you go now that there’s a bit of snow in the high country? Just about anywhere but be prepared to encounter snow in the mountains. The recent snow shouldn’t be much of an obstacle but more will be on the way and being ready for the conditions is important.
There are plenty places for cyclists to ride from Pollock Pines down to the south county areas. Road bike riders should stay away from Apple Hill where there are generally more cars than apple pies Friday through Sunday. If you really want to ride and enjoy the wonders of Apple Hill, start early and ride Monday through Thursday.
The woods are still good for mountain bike riders. The areas around Sly Park Lake, including Ferrari Mill Road and the Fleming Meadows area, offer great, colorful rides now — muddy in places but not enough to deter good riders. You’ll need to hose off when you’re done but all good things come with a price.
Check with the locals to find out where trails are open and available if you plan to ride in the Tahoe Basin. Wattabike in Meyers is a good place to ask for what conditions are really like.
This is a good time to check your gear. Replace anything that is obviously worn and no longer usable. Upgrade if you need to. Gear hounds love to add to what they already own.
Stormy days offer a great excuse to break out maps and plan a hike — and a good time to replace worn out maps. When the weather clears you’ll be ready to start exploring again.
Fall is my favorite time of year for cycling and hiking. Explore new areas, enjoy the changes in the sights and smells and the diffused lighting. We’ll be on skis and snowshoes soon, which wonderfully changes everything again.